On this day in 1938 the first science fiction TV program in history was broadcast. It was an adaptation of Karl Čapek’s science fiction drama R.U.R.
These initials stand for “Rossum’s Universal Robots”, and it was precisely Čapek who coined the term “robot”. Čapek was Czech, and the word “robot” is derived from the Czech term for “work(er)”.
The adaptation of Čapek’s drama was broadcast by the British BBC, precisely on this day. This means that science fiction came to TV before the beginning of World War II. Namely, it was precisely the same year that Hitler was preparing for war.
Around one month after the drama was screened, the Germans annexed Austria to the Third Reich (the so-called Anschluss of Austria). They also prepared a plan for invading Czechoslovakia, which was indeed dismembered following the Munich Agreement concluded in autumn the same year.
The TV adaptation starred Derek Bond, Harvey Braban, William Lyon Brown and around 10 other actors. The broadcast lasted for around 35 minutes, and was done in black-and-white.