The Weekend's Viewing: Home of the Future, Sun, Channel 4
Toughest Place to Be...a Train Driver, Sun, BBC2

 

In Home of the Future, Channel 4 has gutted a standard family house and filled it with the kind of technology that is "predicted to turn our lives into the stuff of sci-fi dreams".

Which sounds nightmarish, frankly, given how often sci-fi dreams run out of control. Take a look at that robotic lavatory, with its frankly impertinent wash-and-blow nozzle. Is that the kind of thing you could trust not to turn against you when you were at your most vulnerable? Personally, I think you'd never quite be able to fully unclench. Doubt isn't on offer here, though. The narration promised that the expensively made-over home of the Perera family offered a "blueprint for what our homes will one day be like", brushing aside the fact that blueprints are a notorious form of fiction. And it isn't that it's a problem predicting roughly what technology will do – the problem arises when you put it in the hands of human beings. We're the bug in the machine.

Humans are emotional for one thing. On moving back, most of the younger Pereras thought their futuristic new home was "cool". The boys liked the fully networked flat-screen telly and smart-phone-operable lighting system. Their daughter thought that the minimalist white interior was a change for the better. But Michelle, the mum, just sat on the sofa and burst into tears: "I thought there'd be a little bit of me left in here," she said miserably. No, Michelle, there's no place for carpeting and velvet upholstery in the future. And we're irrational too. Her husband, Anthony, turned out to be even flakier – literally and metaphorically. While Michelle and the rest of the family had no problem with the biometric door lock, Anthony couldn't get it to work at all, thanks to a strangely scurfy thumb that barely had a fingerprint. And his obsession with electricity conservation wasn't helping pave the way to a brave new world: he switched off the timed lights on the hydroponic Aerogarden and left his son, Joel, with barely enough charge to get to work in his electric car, because he didn't trust the system to switch it off when it was done. "He's an electric dictator, basically," grumbled Joel. "I'm ready to do some Middle Eastern shit, man".

The human factor, you see. Recalcitrant or confused or simply lazy. So you can spend as much time and money as you want developing a computerised family calendar to go on the fridge, but if you think teenagers are going to waste any of their precious time filling it in you're a cock-eyed dreamer. Teenagers can't enter dirty socks into an open laundry basket three inches away, so anything involving a keyboard is bound to be a total loss. Home of the Future might still have had some point to it, even so – despite the absurd naivety of the central premise – if it had been at all interested in real science. But apart from a brief element on home power-generation and a cursory section on research into autonomous vehicles, it seemed far more interested in dubious gizmos. Imagine one of those Innovations catalogues crossed with a reality soap and you may have some measure of the pointlessness of the exercise.

Toughest Place to Be...a Train Driver is a format that understands human nature and works with the grain of it, smuggling quite a lot of information about developing-world conditions into what looks like a hobbyist's travelogue. Last night, Simon swapped the controls of a Virgin Pendolino train for a Peruvian mine train. His instructors got all Swiss Tony on him. "The locomotive is like your wife, so you have to dominate her," said one instructor. "The locomotive, you have to treat her tenderly, like a woman you are trying to woo," said another. I'm not sure which he listened to, but between them Simon brought her home safely.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine