Mechanical Marvels Clockwork Dreams

Cambridge Professor Simon Schaffer brings to life the untold story of the first robots – called androids or automata – extraordinary clockwork machines designed hundreds of years ago to mimic and recreate life.

The film, made for BBC 4, brings the past to life in vivid detail as we see how and why these masterpieces were built. Travelling around Europe, Simon uncovers the history of these machines and shows us some of the most spectacular examples, from an entire working automaton city to a small boy who can be programmed to write and even a device that can play chess. All the machines Simon visits show a level of technical sophistication and ambition that still amazes today.