Following The Martian Invasion

Episodes

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'a Remarkable Story From Woking'20170307

Francis Spufford walks in the footsteps of Wells all conquering tripods from Woking to Primrose Hill in the company of writers, scientists and historians, exploring the startling array of ideas that fuelled his classic and gives it its lasting impact. One of the lasting appeals of Wells' 1887 classic is the very real topography of invasion and terror inflicted on South East England. Wells reduces suburban and central London to smoking rubbble, strewn with aero-forming red weed. You can map out exactly where the invasion begins at the sandpits on Horsell Common to its mucus ridden end at London's Primrose Hill.

2. 'A REMARKABLE STORY FROM WOKING'... So scream the headlines of the papers in a novel that revels in the rapidly changing social and media landscape of Victorian London. Francis Spufford wheels his bicycle along Maybury Road, where Wells lived at the time, to consider the delight which Wells took in destroying a place he had only just recently arrived at- Woking. The land of the dead, where the Necropolis railway deposited its cargo at Europe's largest cemetery. Wells would mount his new technological wonder, a tandem with his 'wife' in the front, and weave his way through the town and its Surrey environs noting down places and people before destroying them all in print! But who was Wells at this point in his life and who were we? What kind of world was Woking and beyond and what was it he was so intent on destroying? Joining Francis is science fiction chronicler Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck University) and historian Astrid Svenson (Brunel University).

Producer: Laura Thomas.

'the Chances Against Anything Manlike On Mars Are A Million To One'20170306

Francis Spufford walks in the footsteps of Wells all conquering tripods from Woking to Primrose Hill in the company of writers, scientists and historians. Exploring along the way the startling array of ideas that fuelled his classic and continue to give it its lasting impact. At the height of Victorian 'awesomeness', Wells landed his Martians on Horsell Common and wiped the imperial grins off our ape like faces. Heat rays and black smoke reduced a mighty empire to panic and chaos in a matter of days. No less than we had done to the conquered of empire. His story was a brilliant fusion of the already established genre of invasion fiction and two decades of scientific speculation about Mars and Martians around the notion that the Red planet was inhabited. You can map out exactly where the invasion begins at the sandpits on Horsell Common to the doomed attempts to repulse the invaders on the banks of the Thames at Shepperton and finally to the Martians eerie end at their final staging post atop Primrose Hill.

Spufford begins his journey following H.G. Wells' Martian invaders at the Basingstoke Canal that runs through Woking. Here Wells canoed with his lover amidst the wild vegetation and dreamed about Mars, at the time widely believed to be criss crossed by vast canals created by an ancient and dying race. Wells wrote his book at the height of Martian Fever when the work of astronomers Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell had created intense speculation about life on Mars. But Wells' Martians are evolution's nightmare. We end on Horsell Common, sight of the first crashed Martian cylinder. First contact-Victorians style. Joining Francis Spufford are the science writer Oliver Morton (Mapping Mars) and the Historical Geographer Maria Lane (Geographies of Mars).

Producer: Mark Burman.

'the Chances Against Anything Manlike On Mars Are A Million To One'20170306

Francis Spufford walks in the footsteps of Wells all conquering tripods from Woking to Primrose Hill in the company of writers, scientists and historians. Exploring along the way the startling array of ideas that fuelled his classic and continue to give it its lasting impact. At the height of Victorian 'awesomeness', Wells landed his Martians on Horsell Common and wiped the imperial grins off our ape like faces. Heat rays and black smoke reduced a mighty empire to panic and chaos in a matter of days. No less than we had done to the conquered of empire. His story was a brilliant fusion of the already established genre of invasion fiction and two decades of scientific speculation about Mars and Martians around the notion that the Red planet was inhabited. You can map out exactly where the invasion begins at the sandpits on Horsell Common to the doomed attempts to repulse the invaders on the banks of the Thames at Shepperton and finally to the Martians eerie end at their final staging post atop Primrose Hill.

Spufford begins his journey following H.G. Wells' Martian invaders at the Basingstoke Canal that runs through Woking. Here Wells canoed with his lover amidst the wild vegetation and dreamed about Mars, at the time widely believed to be criss crossed by vast canals created by an ancient and dying race. Wells wrote his book at the height of Martian Fever when the work of astronomers Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell had created intense speculation about life on Mars. But Wells' Martians are evolution's nightmare. We end on Horsell Common, sight of the first crashed Martian cylinder. First contact-Victorians style. Joining Francis Spufford are the science writer Oliver Morton (Mapping Mars) and the Historical Geographer Maria Lane (Geographies of Mars).

Producer: Mark Burman.

The Destruction Of Shepperton And The Exodus From London20170308

Francis Spufford walks in the footsteps of Wells all conquering tripods from Woking to Primrose Hill in the company of writers, scientists and historians, exploring the startling array of ideas that fuelled his classic and gives it its lasting impact.

The inexorable progress of the Martian War machines meets an attempt at organized military response at Shepperton. It is desperate and doomed yet not without limited success. Joining Francis along the banks of the Thames to consider a desperate, workable strategy against alien invasion is General Sir Rupert Smith, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander. Meanwhile in London and along the refugee routes northwards to Chipping Barnet Professor Darryl Jones (Trinity College), editor of the forthcoming O.U.P. edition of War of the Worlds, considers how things fall apart and what kind of world Wells wanted to sweep away?

Producer: Mark Burman.

The Martian Overthrow20170310

Francis Spufford walks in the footsteps of Wells all conquering tripods from Woking to Primrose Hill in the company of writers, scientists and historians, exploring the startling array of ideas that fuelled his classic and gives it its lasting impact.

"The farther I penetrated into London, the profounder grew the stillness. It was a city condemned and derelict....In South Kensington I first heard the howling.... a sobbing alternation of two notes, "Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," Francis Spufford moves through an eerily silent London from Exhibition Road, where Wells had eagerly attended the lectures of biologist Thomas Huxley, onto the outskirts of Primrose Hill. The last staging post of the Martians who meet their microbial end overlooking the ruined city as Victorian's count their biological blessings. Joining him are the science fiction writers Ian McDonald and Stephen Baxter, author of the new sequel to War of the Worlds. In the 120 years since its publication why does Wells tale still resonate?

Series Producer: Mark Burman.

'what We Saw From The Ruined House.'20170309

Francis Spufford walks in the footsteps of Wells all conquering tripods from Woking to Primrose Hill in the company of writers, scientists and historians, exploring the startling array of ideas that fuelled his classic and gives it its lasting impact.

'They were, I now saw, the most unearthly creatures it is possible to conceive ' Red weed floats down the Thames by Kew Bridge, the Martians are busy aero-forming Earth to make it more like their dying Martian home. The South East lies in ruins and London is abandoned. Meanwhile in a house in Mortlake Francis Spufford is joined by Professor Sally Shuttleworth (St Annes, Oxford) and space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock to consider Martian evolution and appearance in a terrifying close encounter.

Producer: Laura Thomas.