It’ll Never Work (CBBC, 1993-1999)
This is a CBBC show from the 90s that was all about science and technology, indeed it could be said that it was the children’s equivalent of Tomorrow’s World. It featured a look at some of the more unusual and ludicrous inventions from around the world, and it often concentrated on gadgets from Japan, where technology advanced very quickly, and everything seemed to get smaller. Whatever will they think of next?
It’ll Never Work was hosted from what appeared to be a rather large and disused warehouse, and the theme music was “People Are People”, a Depeche Mode hit single from 1984. The original presenting line-up was Sally Gray (formerly of Tricks And Tracks), Angela Lamont, and Jez Nelson. There was also a lot of location work, as the presenters travelled around the world to discover the quirkier side of science.
From cars to computers, how things worked and their design evolved was explained, usually with a little help from someone clever who probably had a degree and everything, plus a few bizarre experiments. It’s a little odd to look back at this show now we’re on the other side of the year 2000. Would robots really have taken over the world? Would we all be living on Mars by then anyway? There was also a regular feature called Chindogu, that looked at some inventions that were impractical and presented in the style of a spoof advert. Not available in the shops.
It’ll Never Work did well with viewers, and it went on to win a Bafta. After this, there was a spin-off series featuring the Design Awards where viewers were encouraged to send in their creative inventions. There were thousands of entries, some of them were put to the test, and failed miserably, which was just what they were looking for. The ideas would be judged by a distinguished panel, and the winners announced at a special ceremony.
There were seven series of It’ll Never Work, although Nelson had left by the later series, after being promoted to being a host of Tomorrow’s World. In 1998 he was replaced by Rick Adams. Now you might remember that I really enjoyed him hosting other shows in the mid-90s including Reactive, Crazy Cottage, and even (gulp) The Big Breakfast, so there’d be no doubt that his presence would make me continue to be a keen viewer.
And yet, I have no memory of watching him host the show at all, which is rather odd. Sorry, Rick. There were also several repeat runs of It’ll Never Work, including some on CBBC’s strand on BBC2, and it was repeated until as late as 2000. By which point we had finally discovered, that despite all their predictions that were usually accurate, no, we hadn’t all been taken over by robots from Mars. Maybe that’s still to come.