Britain’s Greatest Machines With Chris Barrie

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 28 April, 7.30pm

The 1820s was one of the most revolutionary decades in history. In just ten years, transportation evolved from foot and horse to the first passenger railway, forever changing British society. Chris Barrie follows this breakthrough, heading down a mine to witness rail’s earliest roots and taking a spin on the Trevithick Puffing Devil – the world’s first high-pressure steam engine. Finally, the intrepid presenter climbs on to the footplate of some of the earliest and most famous trains in the world. All aboard!

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 21 April, 7.30pm

Chris Barrie fights fires in the Blitz with the vehicles of the Auxiliary Fire Service, commands High Speed Launch 102, Britain’s first high-speed rescue boat – and charges through the English countryside at 60mph in the groundbreaking Daimler Dingo… in both forward and reverse. The 1940s began with Britain ill-prepared for war and in this episode Chris tells the story of how Britain’s engineers fought back with a combination of improvisation and clever invention. From Radar to the Jet Engine and from some great unsung heroes to the iconic machines that changed the world in post-war Britain.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 14 April, 7.30pm

Chris Barrie takes on the famous high speed banking at the world’s first purpose-built racing circuit in a 1920s Bentley. He races a plane on a 1925 Brough Superior motorcycle. And he takes to the air in a De Havilland Moth, the tiny aircraft beloved of aerial explorers that helped pioneer the commercial air routes we still use today. The 1920s was the decade that forged the modern petrol-centred world we now live in. When it started, petrol was only sold in tins from the chemist. Yet, by the time it ended, there were 60,000 garage forecourts up and down the country supplying petrol for the millions of new vehicles on Britain’s roads. With a powerful empire, Britain controlled half the world’s oil reserves but needed a way of transporting all that oil. Chris drives a Scammell Pioneer the giant off-road pipe carrier that was essential to building long distance pipelines. This was an era in which engineers began to see no limits to what could be achieved with new technology. But one great machine was a dream

too far: inside one of the largest buildings ever constructed, Chris relives the extraordinary and tragic story of what was then the largest flying machine on the planet – the R101 airship.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 7 April, 7.30pm

Chris Barrie tells the story of the 1910s, a decade of triumphs and tragedies. This was an era of great leaps in technology and mind-blowing new wonders. The start of mass motoring with Charabanc coach trips and the amazing Edwardian cyclecar. New electric machines and the birth of long distance radio communications. Chris demonstrates the equipment that saved 700 lives on the Titanic. He investigates the ingenious, deadly machines that first created and then broke the deadly stalemate of trench warfare. And he pays tribute to the Vickers Vimy, an extraordinary war plane that at the end of this decade achieved one of the greatest landmarks in aviation history, flying non-stop across the Atlantic.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 19 August, 7.30pm

Chris Barrie relives the Monte Carlo rally at the wheel of a Mini Cooper and recreates Sir Ranulph Fiennes exploration of the Nile by hovercraft as he enjoys the greatest British Machines of the 1960’s. This was a decade of revolutions and Britain’s best designers and engineers weren’t going to be left out. Chris gets his hands on some revolutionary trucks, charts the birth of the white van man and investigates the secrets of the iconic Post Office Tower. And in honour of the launch and raging success of Miss World, Chris organises his own Miss World competition – for beautiful Sixties sports cars.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 12 August, 7.30pm

In the 1950s, Britain was determined to remain the world leader in engineering and a military power in a new world order dominated by the Cold War superpowers. Chris the controls of a Deltic Diesel locomotive as he finds out how wartime technology and materials were used to build groundbreaking new machines; he also visits the Lovell Telescope to find out how a peaceful post-war radio telescope became embroiled in the Cold War. Chris re-visits the superb but ultimately doomed design of the world’s first jet airliner before taking to the original “Jungle” Test Track with one of Britain’s greatest international successes, the Land Rover.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 5 August, 7.30pm

In this new series, Chris Barrie seeks out the great British machines that have changed people’s lives and help shaped Britain as we know it today. He tells the stories of these mechanical icons with passion, wit and a great deal of expertise. With his own eclectic collection of restored vintage and classic vehicles this is a subject close to his heart. Tackling the subject one decade at a time, Chris puts the engineering achievements of each era into the context of the bigger picture of British history. In this first series the four episodes tackle the Nineteen Thirties, Fifties, Sixties and Eighties. Chris takes a hands-on approach to history and he’ll driving or operating many of the vehicles in the series. And while he’ll celebrate the successes, Chris will also reveal some glorious failures.