Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Sam Vega left a comment about Doomwatch on the previous post which gave my old memory cells a real good tweak.

If you are old enough to remember, Doomwatch was a BBC drama series running from 1970 to 1972. It was themed on a range of highly improbable environmental or ecological disasters, or at least those I remember were.

I still recall my young-person's annoyance that the BBC could be so cavalier with technical and scientific issues merely for the sake of second-rate, if popular drama.

The clip above is a trailer for The Plastic Eaters, the first in the series and the one I remember best because I thought it so ludicrous. In fact I still remember being horrified that they could come up with something so silly. Naive wasn't I?

The story concerns a genetically modified virus that liquefies all types of plastics. It escapes from some government laboratory, spreads all over the place and among other things causes aeroplanes to fall out of the sky. 

Well viruses have no metabolism, so it should at least have been an improbable bacterium or fungus, but of course this is BBC so nobody really cares about scientific credibility. They didn't then and they don't now. My disenchantment with factual TV dates from this truly awful drama.


James Higham said...

In sailing, it can be true in a way. UV does break down some of the synthetic materials, which have a shelf life. I'd not like to have synthetic rigging and it just dissolves.

A K Haart said...

James - yes plastics can degrade, particularly nylon, but it's a slow process and viruses can't do it.