Back to the future? British people would rather go back to the past
October 21st, 2015, Will Dahlgreen

Back to the future? British people would rather go back to the past

Most British people would rather time travel to the past than the future – and Back to the Future viewers prefer the real 2015 to the fictional 2015

On 21 October 2015 Doc Brown and Marty McFly burst into the present in a DeLorean time machine from 1985, in the cult classic Back to the Future Part II. Also on this day, as people roll around on ‘hoverboards’, have computers in their pockets and use drones to film things, YouGov conducted research into British people’s attitudes towards time travel.


There’s a sliver of hope in the British public’s mind that one day we might escape the present – one in four (24%) say that time travel is possible, while 55% say it is not and 21% honestly don’t know.

If it were possible, 61% would probably or definitely do it – or 55% of women and 68% of men.

But complimenting previous YouGov research which has found the future to be a far less hospitable place to the public than the past – only 12% of British people say that the world is, all things considered, getting better – the majority (53%) would rather go back than forward (25%).

However 18-24 year olds are more likely to want to travel to the future than over 60s (32% to 21% respectively).


The 2015 in Back to the Future Part II featured flying cars, real hoverboards, talking jackets, self-lacing shoes (Nike have filed a patent for these), roll-up TVs, smartglasses and… fax machines. In some ways it got things right, in others not so much.

Among those who have seen it, there is a strong tendency to prefer living in the actual 2015 (48%) rather than the fictional 2015 (29%).

See the full poll results