A strange mania seemed to sweep across social media and many parts of the general world yesterday, as ‘Back to the Future’ nostalgia took hold in celebration of the Film’s 30th anniversary. In ‘Back to the Future II’ Marty McFly and his wacky mentor Doc Brown travelled forward in time to 21st October 2015, opening up a Pandora’s box worth of alternative potential timelines. As the calendar ticked around to that very date in reality, people questioned how close to the film’s depiction the world had actually become and celebrated the popular film franchise in their own way.

Sci-fi films love time travel

Time travel is nothing unusual as a film theme. Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd may have bounced back and forth between the past, present and future during the trilogy of ‘Back to the Future’ films. But they in no way have exclusivity to the notion of dabbling with the space-time continuum. From ‘Superman’ to ‘Star Trek’, not forgetting ‘Bill and Ted’, it has been utilised in many storylines to some degree or another.

The science fiction genre has often explored the possibilities of altering the past to improve the current day situation, building on HG Wells 1895 novella “The Time Machine”. The book itself has been adapted into two feature films to stimulate the imagination of countless others no doubt with the question of ‘what if I could change the past?’

Change events or leave as is?

That theme was prevalent on the day itself, as radio shows tasked their listeners to suggest what event they would like to travel back to in the past. The option to change the course of events, bask once again in something they enjoyed or merely to witness something they may have missed the first time around, prompted many to respond.

Those with an entrepreneurial flair in the UK pondered no doubt on which event they could have bet on or invested in from history to improve their current day wealth.

The public shared their thoughts on what they would re-live or change if they could time travel back to 1985 or any time in the past. As the conversations got deeper, some people said that the past was the past and we should learn from mistakes but move on.

Others wished that they could make changes to events in the past, maybe forgetting how it was similar changes that almost resulted in Marty McFly and his siblings not being born. Be careful what you wish for could be the lesson to learn there!

Music from 1985

Theme days dominated some music channels. The ‘Absolute 80s’ radio station decided to dedicate a day of broadcasting to music from the year 1985, featuring tracks from the likes of Paul Young, The Smiths and Marillion to name but a few. Eighties’ kids could once more sing along to the music from their favourite era.

Not to forget the DeLorean

DeLorean cars were spotted all over the place to mimic the vehicle used for time travel in the original film, which gained a cult following in the aftermath.

To mark the event, a hi-tech electrical DeLorean car was on show at Queen’s University in Belfast.

ITV2 tribute show

Not to be left out, some television channels showed the ‘Back to the Feature’ films in their entirety. ITV2 interspersed their airing of the three films with a special celebrity tribute show presented by film fan Keith Lemmon.

Whether time travel is indeed possible or not, theoretically or practically, it is certainly a debate to fill out an evening or two. Yesterday’s experience demonstrated that the conversations will continue to capture people’s imaginations for many years to come.