Alan Ayckbourn was ahead of the curve in predictions of AI-created TV soaps

So, the TV director James Hawes has told parliament’s culture, media, and sport committee that within three to five years, soaps will be created by artificial intelligence (TV soaps could be made by AI within three years, director warns, 22 February). He is, of course, not the first to make this prediction. Alan Ayckbourn’s Comic Potential, first performed at the Stephen Joseph theatre in Scarborough in 1998, is a case in point. He foresaw a time when soaps would be routinely performed by robots, some so old and fault-ridden that performances rarely went smoothly, or even coherently. Ayckbourn revisited the robot theme in his 2023 play Constant Companions, fully AI this time. The outlook for humans in this is not bright. Indeed, Ayckbourn’s crystal ball has a habit of seeing possible future trends and issues with alarming prescience. Rarely comforting.
Yvonne Whalley
Sherburn in Elmet, North Yorkshire

Re Olivier’s Othello (Letters, 19 February), who can forget Donald Sinden’s performance in 1979. I can still hear the laughter.
Mike Peacock
East Meon, Hampshire

Leave a Comment