Lynne Truss celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Speaking Clock, which was launched amid great anticipation on 24th July, 1936. TIM, ""the wonder instrument of the Post Office"", used state of the art technology, with the voice reproduced from rotating glass discs. In the first year the service was only available in London, but still received around 12 million calls. Since then, the clock's four successive ""Golden Voices"" have told the time through a world war, huge cultural and technological changes, and radical developments in our understanding of time itself.
Two celebrated cosmologists comment on aspects of time and timekeeping: Professor Stephen Hawking, and Professor Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal - it was an earlier holder of this title, Harold Spencer Jones, who made the first call to TIM, at the inaugural ceremony in 1936.
Lynne visits the grand original speaking clock, now housed at the British Horological Institute; and she meets the current Golden Voice, Sara Mendes da Costa, who describes what it is like to be part of this very British institution. Through music and archive, the programme travels back in time to the competitions to appoint Sara and her predecessors - Jane Cain, Pat Simmons, and Brian Cobby - and to discover how much times have changed.
Sound design by Dave Dodd
Produced by Susan Kenyon
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.