A Weekend on Mars – tape 2524

Sport is overrunning on this tape as it starts – but at least they tell me immediately. Must have been slightly nerve-wracking, since both programmes have a live component.

There’s a a trailer for Wildlife Showcase.

Then, Clive Anderson presents A Weekend on Mars, programmes to look at the landing of the Mars Pathfinder probe, and its rover, Sojourner.

He’s joined by expert Dr Monica Grady,

Patrick Moore,

and SF author John Clute.

There’s not much time in this first part, presumably because of the tennis overrunning, so John Clute gets abruptly cut off by Clive so he can introduce a special Horizon looking at the history of probes to Mars.

This includes Ray Bradbury reading some of his work.

Carl Sagan points at some pictures.

After this, Ian McCaskill gives a weather forecast for Mars, then it’s back to the studio. There’s ostensibly some tension, as the scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory wait to get a signal back from the lander to tell them it didn’t break up during the landing. This is a little underwhelming, since there’s nobody there to narrate what’s happening, so all we see is a lot of men (and a couple of women) start clapping.

After this segment, which also includes a famous clip of Patrick Moore trying to do some stargazing live, only to have it be completely overcast, there’s a short compilation of some alien-themed comedy, including one of my favourite sketches, Rowan Atkinson as ‘Zak’, broadcast to us from a planet very different to ours. Including my favourite line “We have no death, no gravity, and a different shaped gearstick on the Mini Metro.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th July 1997 – 20:30

After this, there’s a trailer for Capricorn One, then a short programme, United Kingdom.

Then, an episode of Newsnight, leading with Labour’s plan to ‘encourage’ single mothers back into work, conflict over the marching season in Northern Ireland, the Mars Pathfinder landing, and art fraud. Presented by Huw Edwards.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th July 1997 – 22:30

After this there’s a trailer for One Foot in the Past. Then a Budget Response from the Lib Dems.

There’s a trailer for This Life.

Then the tape runs out during an episode of The A Force.


  1. I watched the Mars show, and the thought in my head afterwards was “Was that it?” Rarely have I been so unmoved by a momentous occasion.

  2. Clive Anderson once presented my work colleagues with an award for Outstanding Achievement. Small world, eh?

    My favourite sci-fi movie set on Mars is Total Recall.

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