I just adore BBC 2’s historical “reality TV” shows. Actually a better term for the show would be “Historical Re-enactments”. They are entertaining and educational, but don’t go in for all the personal conflict. As a matter of fact in all the ones I’ve watched (and I’ve watched a lot) if there was ever any personal conflict between the participants it never shows.
So there are quite a few of these series, each ran for about a year and covered a different time period.
Tales from the Green Valley (17th Century Farm)
Tudor Monastery Farm
Secrets of the Castle
Let me explain the premise of Wartime Farm. Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn move in to a cottage farm in Hampshire, England. They then work the farm for a year with only the clothing, food, resources etc that would have been available in 1940’s during WWII.
Of course they interact with a lot of “locals” who are all in period costumes (but who do NOT have to spend a year dressing and living that way). Various situations that would have been important to understanding life at the time are re-enacted–like air raid drills, using blackout curtains, rationing, and even having a dance with soldiers.
I find these glimpses into the past fascinating. There are many little details of everyday life included, as well as the big challenges of a nation trying to double it’s food production in a few short years. I learned a ton watching these, and truly enjoyed them.
Episode One starts just before war is declared, and shows the team moving into the cottage and making various improvements to the farm and farm house. I enjoyed seeing what period appropriate “labor saving” devices were added to free up time inside the home (I always find the homemaking side most interesting). The fields are made (not easy) and prepped for planting, and the team is recruited into the government’s secret Auxiliary Units.
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