Fifteen volunteers have been selected to go back in time to Victorian London. Their ages range from 10-59 and they will spend three weeks working and living in a recreation of the Old Nichol slum in Bethnal Green in London’s East End. Their lives in the slum will begin in 1860 and go through 1900 when the era changed from Victorian to Edwardian. Each person in the slum is assigned a role and an occupation when they arrive. One family includes modern-day tailor with his wife, daughter and son. He will make or re-purpose garments from used clothing or from rags. There is a retired gentleman with a wife, a daughter and two grandchildren, both girls. He works a full day without a meal at a bell-making factory. He’s unable to go back because of too much strain on his back. This family will need to find other ways to earn money. There is a single mom with a son and daughter. A single man is handicapped and he will exchange his high-tech artificial limb for a peg leg and crutches. A married couple will manage a grocery store. A brother and sister of Jewish faith emigrate from Russia.
This is an eye-opening series!! The courtyard in front of the multiple story building is always muddy. There is a central shared hand pump for water in the courtyard. There are outdoor privies, the rooms for the tenants are small and very drab. The biggest problem for the people is earning enough money to pay the rent and buy food. The grocery will offer credit for the purchase of food if the grocers believe the person can repay. The grocers also have their own rent and food bill to pay. If they extend the credit and the person can’t pay the money back, they could be evicted like the other tenants. The families never seem to have any extra money or get ahead of their bills. They constantly need to worry about food and the rent. The work and the finances change for the tenants every ten years until 1900. 3 ½* (I liked this series)
59 min each episode, eight episodes, Doc, TV series shown on PBS with presenter Michael Mosley, Mandy, Russell, Rebecca and James Howarth, Graham Potter, Allison, Heather, Olivia Oldfield, Andy Gardiner, Adrian and Wiebke Bird.
Note: Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 82% critic 100% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic 73 out of 100 with 6 critics, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 27 reviews.
Special Note: The actual Old Nichol was London’s most notorious slum established in the 19 century. It was a home to 5,719 people living in a dense network of about 30 streets and courts. There were rented rooms, workshops and stables. The clearance of the slum began in 1891.