The butcher, the baker…BBC turns back time on British high street


BBC One is launching a new television series in November 2010, which transports today’s shop keepers back in time to the British high street in the 1870s and then propels them through a century of retail change up to the 1970s.

Turn Back Time – The High Street will feature a grocer, baker, butcher, ironmonger, dressmaker, record shop and convenience store.
 It aims to bring the story of the British high street back to life by placing a group of shop keeping families into empty stores.

Set in a market square in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, the programme will show how families’ lives are turned upside down as they get to grips with how shopkeepers lived and worked in six key eras of British history.

Alongside all the usual pressures of running a business, they will have to learn traditional skills and make their own produce by hand – each episode throwing new challenges their way as the High Street marches on into the modern era, said the BBC.

The shop keepers will be overseen by Turn Back Time’s ‘chamber of commerce’ comprising Gregg Wallace, Tom Herbert and Juliet Gardiner, which sets the challenges for each era and enforces accurate rules and regulations – revealing who has delivered on best customer service and weekly sales as the decades tick by.

According to the BBC, the families will also live the life of each period, dressing, eating and playing as they once would have done – from 18-hour working days and wartime rationing, to evenings of entertainment sitting around the wireless.

In a twist, however, the shops will be serving modern-day customers who are used to the pace and convenience of 21st-century shopping.

Turn Back Time – The High Street is a six-part series for BBC One, to be screened in November 2010.

BBC Learning is also offering viewers the chance to continue the Turn Back Time experience in their own area. Working with local history societies museums, libraries and archives, Hands On History will offer a range of events and activities around the country, including a number of historical pop-up shops.

For more information visit Hands on History from Friday 15 October. 
Launched earlier this year, Hands On History is a two-year BBC Learning campaign offering audiences inspiring opportunities to take the next step from watching programmes to discovering history around them.