Historian features in new BBC film

A historian funded by the Wellcome Trust from our University has been involved with a new film to be shown on the BBC on Friday 23 June.

Dr Elizabeth Hurren, Reader in History, in our School of History, Politics and International Relations (HYPIR) recently did a film on the history of disability and the evolution of the latest technological developments in prosthetics. It will be shown on BBC 1 (West) this Friday 23rd June at 7.30pm.

The film features a swimmer in the paralympics and her journey to rediscover past and future technologies that are facilitating people with disabilities in working with their well-being.

Dr Hurren said: “My contribution was to be the expert commentator as an historian of the body on two amazing Victorians who were raised in the West Country and went on to really help people with disabilities through their inventive enterprises.”

The film, by Grace Productions, focuses on biotech inventors, past and present, whose pioneering work (in this case, prosthetics and X-Rays) has transformed the lives of millions.

The film, “Invented in …Pioneering Prosthetics in the West Country”, forms part of a season of science-related programmes for BBC TV, Radio and Online.  The filmmakers chose biotech inventors after they uncovered the remarkable story of James Gillingham and his “leather limb” prosthetics that helped thousands of WWI injured veterans, and James Gifford, who took one of the very first X-Rays in this country, and showcased his work at the Royal Photographic Society (1896).

The filmmakers are connecting inventors PAST, with an inventor from the PRESENT, Open Bionics who are doing extraordinary work in the field of 3D-printed prosthetic hands, from their start up base at UWE, in north Bristol. Presenter Kate Grey and her story of living with a prosthetic hand for almost her entire life, illustrates the strong link there is in a history of the body between past and present day biotech inventors.

The BBC programme will also feature in a new module for students in HYPIR this coming academic year, entitled “Sex, Beauty and Science: Whose Body is it Anyway?” - linking the latest historical research to public engagement and media presence for our students.

Preview clip for Invented in the West Country: