Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 1991 – tape 1264

This tape opens with some orchestral music, with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra playing Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

Then there’s a news bulletin with Jennie Bond, and weather from Bernard Davey.

Then, the fourth in 1991’s Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution. It’s a particularly good year, because it’s Richard Dawkins. No, stop, where are you going? It’s not the rather embarrassing, Islamophobic, sexist Dawkins of Twitter, but the rather nice Richard Dawkins of the early 90s when he hadn’t quite run out of interesting things to say about genetics.

This episode is called The Ultraviolet Garden, and starts with a special guest appearance by Douglas Adams, a great friend of Dawkins. (Have I mentioned I used to work for Douglas Adams? I probably have.)

Douglas Adams at the Royal Institution

Douglas reads the ‘Dish of the Day’ from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, since the theme of today’s lecture is what animals are for.

Young Bryson Gore, the handler of many of the experiments at the RI, gets to play with a little bat.

Bryson Gore and a Bat

Here’s the whole programme.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 2nd January 1992 – 14:50

After the episode, recording continues briefly, into another news bulletin, but then switches to another bit of classical music, this time Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony.

There’s another news bulletin, and weather from Michael Fish.

There’s a trailer for a new series of Horizon.

Then, the final lecture in this year’s Christmas lectures, by Richard Dawkins, called The Genesis of Purpose.

There’s a demonstration of the modern wonder of virtual reality using ‘an extremely powerful computer’

Virtual Reality in 1991

It all looks horribly juddery.

When he starts talking about ‘mind viruses’ he starts with something harmless – the ‘reverse baseball cap’ (which he predicts will die out in a few years).

The Reverse Baseball Cap

Interestingly, this must predate the coining of the word ‘meme’. And it’s one of the very few places in this series where his anti-religious viewpoints appear.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd January 1992 – 14:30

After the programme, recording continues, with a trailer for Old Garden, New Gardener.

There’s another news bulletin and weather, then recording stops, and underneath there’s more of the previous recording, with the end of a film, This’ll Make You Whistle.

There’s a short programme, Growing PlacesBBC Two – 2nd January 1992 – 17:10

Oddly, the Radio Times lists this as Going Places.

Then, a trailer for Resistance is Useless, a documentary about Doctor Who.

Then, there’s an episode of Rally Report, presented by a frighteningly bequiffed Jeremy Clarkson.

Jeremy Clarkson on Rally report

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 2nd January 1992 – 17:20

After this, there’s a trailer for Booze, barbours, Bores and Brilliance about the Rugby World Cup.

Then, a few minutes of Bugsy Malone before the tape ends.

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