Gutenberg documentary on BBC tv tonight

Richard Hards's picture

Tonight on BBC Four at 9o'clock, repeated at 01:15 and 02:45am

Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press

Another (better) link

Showing as part of the Medieval season. Stephen Fry goes in search of the story behind the inventor of the printing press, Johann Gutenberg, travelling across Europe to find out how Gutenberg kept his development work secret, and how his approach started a cultural revolution.

In order to fully understand the man and his machine, Stephen assembles a team to help him build a copy of Gutenberg's printing press as well as learning how to make the paper and type so that they can print as Gutenberg once did.

Ehague's picture

Is BBC 4 the equivalent of PBS in the states? Or is British prime-time programming just that much less mind-rotting than ours?

belleisle's picture

No we still watch the same US shows you watch... : )

BBC 4 is a freeview digital channel. Its just finished an extensive season of documentaries about advertising to accompany 'Mad Men' which it also airs. So you get the idea...

AGL's picture

I will look at BBC America tonight. The interesting thing is that the movie your link points at, is that it shows a technique that appears to be the way Gutemberg printed his bibles, in a way that each spread with 2 or 4 pages was actually printed (pressed) one page at a time. I will certainly look for this documentary. Thanks for the link.

¡ awesome !

steve.balderson's picture

God bless sky+, thats all i can say here

oprion's picture

/Ivan collapses to the floor, sobbing relentlessly.
-I don't have BBC!

/Starts banging his head against the parquetry.
Personal Art and Design Portal of Ivan Gulkov

Si_Daniels's picture

A review...

"Besides, a nation that can boast Stephen Fry as one of its own can never be entirely dismissed as beyond the pale, gentility-wise. In Stephen Fry and the Machine That Made Us, he was at his most engaging, presenting with intelligent wit the story of the man who invented the printing press almost 600 years ago – Johannes Gutenberg from Mainz on the banks of the Rhine , "the silicon valley of medieval Europe"."

Conor's picture

I really enjoyed it. Their decision to make the machine, type and paper was what had me glued to the TV. Great to see Fry gush at the sight of the ‘e’ he produced in print.

Nick Cooke's picture

Well Ivan, (and anybody else), you can watch it here:

The programme

Nick Cooke

Florian Hardwig's picture

Nick: you can watch it here

Nope. ‘Sorry, this programme is only available to play in the UK.’

aluminum's picture

Still waiting for the BBC to decide that we American's don't want 'BBC America'...we want 'The BBC'. ;o)

Nick Cooke's picture

That's a shame... sorry.

Nick Cooke

Ehague's picture

Right now, somewhere, there's a messageboard where some British people are upset that they can't watch When Sexy Animals Attack Celebrities on Fox.

AGL's picture

Now I will have to browse BBC America every day, hoping they will air this ;)

Katharina's picture

Hopefully they will sell it eventually in the BBC Shop for all those who are neither US nor UK citizens and can't receive the programmes.

Richard Hards's picture

Fabulous programme, made even better by Stephen Fry's obvious enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, my recording ended a little early, but I see it's repeated tomorrow, so I'll have another go.

Good to see our own Chris Lozos appearing in the role of Martin Andrews from Reading!

olho's picture

Very interesting, and quite a voyage. It is not unreasonable to suggest the printing press is man's most civilising invention. Makes me want to get inky.

I have an mpeg copy recorded yesterday, but it's a bit big at 1.6Gb. Of course, if I could squish it I'd never suggest any of you non-Brits might want to contact me, as that would be plainly contrary to my every moral sinew.

dtw's picture

for those who can receive it, I believe this programme is repeated on BBC2 (so no digital or broadband required) NEXT Friday....

Ever since I chose to block pop-ups, my toaster's stopped working.

Linda Cunningham's picture

This sort of thing often shows up (well, eventually!) on BBC World also, which was recently made a Tier 1 (basic) cable channel here in Canada, as well as BBC Canada, which is a premium digital service.

ebensorkin's picture

Monsterously cool.

Andy Keck's picture

A torrent of this program is available in the usual places. Or watch it streaming here:

as shared by some kind person on the LETPRESS mailing list.

vinceconnare's picture

Martin Andrews is a great friendly and knowledgeable man. He was one of my favourite Reading people. Good to see him there in my typeface.

Katharina's picture

"Or watch it streaming here:"

Thank you, Andy!

aa101's picture

If anyone wants to archive this for reference, you can still use the link:

Then download TubeTV for the Mac, and extract it. Watching it on my iPhone now :)

Thanks for the link, I love it.

AGL's picture

I followed Nick Cooke's link but the bbc-iplay doesn't play if you are outside of the UK...

vinceconnare's picture

In the UK to watch television or when you buy a television device you need a license which is used to fund the BBC.

Don McCahill's picture


Use the link Andy Keck supplied. It works well (it is an hour long, I think, so make sure you have time).

Ashleyco's picture


: For anyone wishing to view this program .....

It is currently available to watch online at :

just type {Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press} and it should come up.

I watched it yesterday , real interesting stuff....

ebensorkin's picture

RE: iplayer

Again, this is for folks in the *UK only*.

Ken Brooks's picture

There is a very good article by Alan May in the current Journal of the Printing Historical Society, Journal number 11 on his reconstruction of the one-pull press

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