Excellent one hour documentary narrated by Professor Simon Schaffer which explores the fascinating and rarely told story of automata, those intricate clockwork devices built hundreds of years ago with the intent to mimic and recreate life. Of particular interest are Jaquet-Droz’s ‘The Writer’ (1774) and Merlin’s ‘The Silver Swan’ (1773) which beautifully illustrate the degree of technical mechanical sophistication achieved by artisans over 240 years ago. There is also a funny aside: the record Prof. Schaffer places on the turntable at the end (columbia LX466, 1935 impression) is the Beethoven String Sonata Opus 132 and not the Symphony 7 so BBC used any old record and overlaid the sound track.
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