The Victorian Slum

Watch The Victorian Slum

  • 2016
  • 1 Season
  • 7.9  (206)

The Victorian Slum is a fascinating historical documentary from BBC Two that explores the realities of urban poverty in Victorian Britain. The show follows a group of modern-day families and individuals as they immerse themselves in a recreated slum in the heart of East London's Docklands, where they experience first-hand the harsh realities faced by their Victorian ancestors.

Presented by Michael Mosley, The Victorian Slum is a six-part series that takes the viewer on a journey through time, back to a world where living conditions were brutal and life expectancy shockingly low. Each episode focuses on a specific aspect of daily life in the slum, from the challenges of finding enough food to feed a family to the dangers faced by children working in factories.

The series begins by introducing the viewer to the cast of modern-day slum-dwellers, who are each assigned a fictional identity based on real-life accounts of Victorian residents. These identities range from a struggling widow and her children to a young couple dreaming of escaping poverty through hard work and determination.

As the show progresses, we see how these characters adapt to life in the slum, struggling to cope with overcrowded living conditions, rising rents, and the constant threat of homelessness. They are forced to take on menial jobs, such as sewing or scavenging for scrap metal, in order to make ends meet.

Through expert interviews and historical reconstructions, The Victorian Slum brings to life the daily struggles of Victorian-era working-class families. We learn how conditions in the slums led to widespread disease, malnutrition, and social unrest, with even the most basic necessities such as clean water and adequate sanitation often in short supply.

One of the most striking aspects of The Victorian Slum is its attention to detail in recreating the period setting. From the clothes worn by the cast to the cramped and unsanitary living conditions, every aspect of daily life is brought vividly to life. The production team painstakingly recreated the slum using authentic period building materials, and even went so far as to use traditional methods of laundry and cooking.

Yet despite the grim conditions, The Victorian Slum also highlights the resilience and resourcefulness of the Victorian working class. We see how families came together to support each other in times of need, and how communities formed around shared struggles and interests.

Overall, The Victorian Slum is a powerful and thought-provoking documentary that sheds light on a little-discussed aspect of British history. By immersing viewers in a world that is both unfamiliar and all too real, the show allows us to experience the realities of poverty and hardship as if we were living through them ourselves. It is a fascinating and deeply moving journey through a challenging and formative period in our shared past.

The Victorian Slum is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (5 episodes). The series first aired on October 10, 2016.

The Victorian Slum
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The 1900s
5. The 1900s
November 7, 2016
Observe the social changes the slum dwellers face as they move into the 20th century. A few families prosper, but others continue to face the poverty endemic in Britain. See what steps are finally taken to alleviate the plight of the poor.
The 1890s
4. The 1890s
October 31, 2016
The slum dwellers have moved into the 1890s, when Britain was slowly recovering from an economic depression.
The 1880s
3. The 1880s
October 24, 2016
Despite high unemployment and intolerable conditions, people flock to London, desperate for work. When curious upper-class visitors are permitted to visit the slum as tourists, the participants realize how precarious their situation truly is.
The 1870s
2. The 1870s
October 17, 2016
Witness a dire economic depression heightened by the arrival of Irish migrants seeking work. Daily, the slum dwellers toil to fulfill clothing orders and make artificial flowers for factories. Some won’t be able to settle their debts.
The 1860s
1. The 1860s
October 10, 2016
Follow participants as they move into an 1860s tenement made up of sparse rooms, a shared water pump and outhouses. They seek to make a living by matchbox making, wood turning and the rag trade, work once done by their impoverished forebears.
Where to Watch The Victorian Slum
The Victorian Slum is available for streaming on the BBC Two website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Victorian Slum on demand at Vudu, Google Play and PBS.
  • Premiere Date
    October 10, 2016
  • IMDB Rating
    7.9  (206)