Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 1989 – tape 881

Something slightly more edifying and, ironically, a bit more grown-up than last time, with the fourth in 1989’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, this year on the subject of music, given by Professor Charles Taylor.

He’s a bit of a dry lecturer, but there’s lots of opportunity for young members of the audience to take part in demonstrations by playing instruments.

Playing the Oboe

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 2nd January 1990 – 16:30

Before the next episode, there’s a bit of Catchword with Paul Coia. The sort of cozy afternoon quiz they don’t do any more (Countdown notwithstanding) complete with theme music from Jean Michel Jarre.

There’s a trailer for First Time Planting.

Then the next episode, the last in the series, looking at scales, keyboards, synthesizers, etc. Young Camilla is asked to play a scale, then imposed upon to play the entirety of the first piece from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, after which, while the audience applauds, she can’t wait to get back to her seat. But she did play it flawlessly.


There’s a brief excursion from the lecture theatre with a look at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and Mark Wilson, but even here there’s not much of interest. Where’s Doctor Who?

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd January 1990 – 16:30

Afterwards, recording continues, with a trailer for Wideworld and a slightly odd BBC Two ident.

Weird BBC2 Ident Horse

There’s an episode of Holiday 90, presented by Anne Gregg and Eamonn Holmes.

Holiday 90

BBC Genome:  BBC Two – 3rd January 1990 – 17:30

Then, there’s the start of DEF II with the beginning of an episode of The Invisible Man, the David McCallum SF show from the late 70s that I used to love,

The aunt of the head of the Invisible Man Project is being blackmailed by the man installing a new computer sytem in the bank where she’s the bookkeeper. She’s a secret gambler, but being swindled in a backroom poker game, which McCallum helps her win.

Invisible Man

The recording stops before the end of this episode.


One comment

  1. Interesting how music can be defined as a science as well as an art – I can’t imagine a music lesson at school being part of the science faculty! Taylor also presented the lectures back in 1971 under a similar music theme. I hope that they will come back to a more mainstream channel rather than BBC Four – it’s nice to have these series on between Christmas and New Year that is educational but is not like your ordinary schools or Open University programme. .

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