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The Victorian Slum season 1

   
The Victorian Slum season 1 poster
5 episodes (346 views)

Air weekdate:Monday Cast:No information about actors Genre:Documentary Channel:BBC Two Status:Continuing

8 (1 votes)

The Victorian Slum season 1 episodes list:

Episode #1: The 1860s (air date: 2016-10-10)

In this episode, the slum dwellers move into the 1860s, when London was the capital of the world's first industrial superpower and the richest city on earth. Their new home is totally authentic - a foreboding Victorian tenement building made up of sparse rooms, a shared water pump and outdoor privies. There are businesses too - a small shop and a common lodging house known as the doss house. For some of the new residents, it is a chance to live as their East End ancestors once did, while others want to experience the history of their trades. As it would have been, their priority is to earn money to put food on the table and pay the weekly rent. During the economic boom years of the 1860s, life was tough for the poor, but at least London provided ways to make a living as the slum dwellers find out. Whether it is piecework farmed out by factories like matchbox making and wood turning or repurposing old clothes for the rag trade, they all replicate the work once done by poor Victorians. Graham Potter finds out first hand the back-breaking labour his forebears would have experienced and the effect on a Victorian family when the main breadwinner was out of action. But it is Shazeda Haque who finds life toughest as she experiences the vicious cycle of poverty and debt that lone Victorian parents endured.

Episode #2: The 1870s (air date: 2016-10-17)

The slum dwellers have left behind the 1860s, when London was the richest city on earth and it was hard but possible to make ends meet. Now they must live through a dire economic depression that blighted the 1870s. Tailoring family the Howarths have become 'sweated workers', so called because of the rate at which they had to work. They must toil nonstop to make up Victorian factory orders for clothing. It is food for thought when they are forced to employ their neighbours' children to complete the work. The Potter family can no longer rely on breadwinner Graham as he struggles to find work so they join forces with single parent Shazeda to try and get by making artificial flowers. For Heather Potter, the experience has added poignancy when she finds out the fate that befell her own poverty-stricken East End ancestors. There are new arrivals in the slum when siblings John and Maria Barker arrive from Ireland. They are horrified by the conditions that would have greeted Irish migrants to Victorian London. But they are young, strong and have no dependents and they do have the ability to work. As the week progresses, rent collector Andy and the shopkeepers the Birds begin to worry that some in the slum won't be able to settle their debts. A moonlit flit has a knock-on effect for all and the harsh realities of life for the Victorian poor hit home.

Episode #3: The 1880s (air date: 2016-10-24)

The slum dwellers have moved into the 1880s - a turbulent decade for London's East End. Unemployment was sky high, living conditions intolerable - but still people came, desperate for work. The pressures are immediately felt by the Howarth family, who find themselves employing new workers in their Victorian sweat shop. Their workforce would have been made up of newly arrived immigrants, and the Howarths' workers all have their own story to tell. But Mandy Howarth is moved to tears when she finds out that the sweated trades are part of her own family history. The Potter family become street sellers, selling sheep's trotters and jellied eels in London's East End. But their newfound living is quickly curtailed, as it was in 1880s Bethnal Green. Fellow slum residents Andy Gardiner and John Barker come face to face with the harsh realities of working life in London's docks during the era when only one of them could have hoped to earn.

Episode #4: The 1890s (air date: 2016-10-31)

The slum dwellers have moved into the 1890s, when Britain was slowly recovering from an economic depression. Cheap foodstuffs and mass-manufactured goods have found their way into the slum's shop, but only some of the residents can afford them. The Howarths are the lucky ones - they now have a bespoke tailor's shop, and tailor Russell can make good money catering to middle-class Londoners who couldn't afford Savile Row suits. Their relative prosperity means Mandy can turn her attention to being a respectable Victorian housewife. The Potter family's experience reflects the lives of countless Victorian poor who struggled with low wages and irregular work, but they are offered a lifeline by their neighbour Maria who needs help with her laundry business. But a water shortage during the 1890s makes life even harder, and it forces Maria and her brother John to leave the slum.

Episode #5: The 1900s (air date: 2016-11-07)

The slum dwellers move into the 20th century and social change is in the air. Community spirit is embodied by the arrival of the cooperative movement and shopkeepers the Birds have members to look after, rather than customers to profit from. While some continue to prosper, others come face to face with the poverty still endemic in British cities during the era. The effects of this on children hits home when the slum's kids see photographs of their Edwardian counterparts. But they all get a taste of the great wealth enjoyed by the privileged few when Edward VII's cancelled coronation banquet turns up at their door. The wider world continues to impact on life in the slum and some enjoy a day trip out to the countryside. The men exercise their right to vote and the women of the slum learn what East End women did in the quest for suffrage. At long last there are state-wide measures designed to alleviate the plight of the poor, and it's time for the slum dwellers to return to life in the 21st century. As they prepare to leave, thoughts turn to the effects of slum clearance on British communities and to lessons that can be learned for the future.

   

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