• Show TV Channels

    Hide TV Channels

  • Show Radio Channels

    Hide Radio Channels

  • Show Years

    Hide Years

  • Issues

Close group

Close group

Afternoon Play: The Machine Stops


We have produced a Style Guide to help editors follow a standard format when editing a listing. If you are unsure how best to edit this programme please take a moment to read it.
EM Forster's story, written at the beginning of the last century, takes place in a future where people can only communicate through a machine - much like the internet today - and technology has become an all-powerful god.

A mother and son's attempts at real communication are the basis for EM Forster's harrowing vision of a subterranean future.

The Machine Stops
2.15pm R4 It is hard to believe that this short story was written by EM Forster before the First World War when it includes a mechanical system that can only be described as an early version of e-mail. The human race is living beneath the earth's surface, communicating via the multifaceted technologies of the great Machine. All physical and mental needs are catered for but not everyone is sated by this safe and unquestioning lifestyle. A man called Kuno has been "finding ideas" away from the remit of the Machine and wants to tell his mother what it is like on the surface of the earth. "Cannot you see... it is we that are dying and that down here the only thing that really lives is the Machine?" She loathes his act of rebellion but fears, equally, for his life. When the Machine begins to break down and humanity, finally, learns its lesson, mother and son discover they are not so very different after all.


Author: E M Forster
Dramatised By: Gregory Norminton
Director: Jane Morgan
Producer: Marilyn Imrie
Sound designer: Wilfredo Acosta
Vashti: Gemma Jones
Kuno: John McAndrew
Computer: Jillie Meers
The four voices: Anne Carroll
The four voices: Christian Rodksa
The four voices: Connie Walker
The four voices: Fergus Webster

Tell us more or contact us

Do you know something about this programme that we have not included above?
Or would you like to ask the Genome team a question?

Tell us more or contact us

Afternoon Play: The Machine Stops

BBC Radio 4 FM, 24 April 2001 14.15

About this project

This site contains the BBC listings information which the BBC printed in Radio Times between 1923 and 2009. You can search the site for BBC programmes, people, dates and Radio Times editions.

We hope it helps you find information about that long forgotten BBC programme, research a particular person or browse your own involvement with the BBC.

Through the listings, you will also be able to use the Genome search function to find thousands of radio and TV programmes that are already available to view or listen to on the BBC website.

There are more than 5 million programme listings in Genome. This is a historical record of the planned output and the BBC services of any given time. It should be viewed in this context and with the understanding that it reflects the attitudes and standards of its time - not those of today.

Feedback about Afternoon Play: The Machine Stops, BBC Radio 4 FM, 14.15, 24 April 2001
Please leave this link here so we can find the programme you're referring to: http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/bc4b6238a2e14c2084665f2a5ea85d4e

Welcome to BBC Genome

Genome is a digitised version of the Radio Times from 1923 to 2009 and is made available for internal research purposes only. You will need to obtain the relevant third party permissions for any use, including use in programmes, online etc.

This internal version of Genome, which includes all the magazine covers, images and articles as well as the programme listings from the Radio Times, is different to the version of BBC Genome that is available externally/to the public. It is only available inside the BBC network.

Your use of this version of Genome is covered by the BBC Acceptable Use of Information Systems Policy and these terms.

BBC Guidance

This historical record contains material which some might find offensive
Continue Cancel