The 1900 House — A Year to Remember
28 December, 8.00 pm

Back to the Future
11 November, 9.00 pm

The Good Old Days
4 November, 9.00 pm

Women's Liberation
28 October, 9.00 pm

Upstairs Downstairs
21 October, 9.00 pm

How to be a Victorian
14 October, 9.00 pm

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
7 October, 9.00 pm

A Rude Awakening
29 September, 9.00 pm

The Time Travelers
23 September, 9.00pm

The Time Machine
22 September, 8.30pm


The 1900 House — A Year to Remember
Tuesday, 28 December, 8.00 pm

From the comfort of a modern home the Bowler family reflect on their three extraordinary months spent as time travelers. Although they left the 1900 House in June, the memories are still strong as they recall the highs and lows of the experience. "No rose coloured glasses here," says Joyce Bowler, "There were fantastic times but there were also days when I hated every minute of it." Among their reflections the Bowlers describe the emotional roller coaster they rode during their 90 days as Victorians and how, 6 months on, they feel stronger for the experience.

The recent broadcast of the series has stirred other memories too. Colin Gidden of Sutton Coldfield describes how he was "totally gob-smacked" to discover that, out of the millions of homes considered for the experiment, his grandmother's house had been selected. In an emotional trip Colin revisits 50 Elliscombe Road for the first time in over 50 years. "I take my hat off to the Bowlers, they deserved medals for living here. It's very close to how I remember it from my very first visit as a school boy," recalls Colin.

This Christmas special also reveals a bizarre crime of passion that unfolded in Elliscombe Road at the turnoff the century. Directly opposite the 1900 House stands Number 53, where a wife shot her husband dead in June of 1900. The case caused scandal in its day as the court hearing revealed the accused was in a bigamous marriage.

Almost a century later, over 20 families were auditioned for the role of living in the 1900 House and the runners up, the Griffiths family of Gloucestershire, give their verdict on how the Bowlers fared and how they themselves might have coped with the experience. As 50 Elliscombe Road awaits new occupants for the next millennium, The 1900 House — A Year to Remember closes the final chapter in this unique and fascinating story.


Back to the Future
Thursday, 11 November, 9.00 pm
(repeats on Sunday, 14 November)

After three months of living in the past, the Bowlers' Victorian odyssey is coming to an end. Despite the challenges they've faced in the past three months, they feel ambivalent about leaving the 1900 House. "This experience for me has been enormous, much more than I thought it would be", says Joyce, close to tears. "I thought it would be me indulging in my own little time-travel fantasy, but it's not that at all. It's me discovering raw history."

Project curator Daru Rooke turns up to find out more about how the Bowlers' experience has affected them — and what they've missed most about modern life. The list is long, but detergents, shampoo and the telephone figure high on the list. For 11-year old twins Hilary and Ruth, it's pop music. "It's been so quiet here."

Before they leave, the Bowlers decide to throw a party for their friends and neighbours. From their household budget of £4 a week, they've managed to save enough to have the food prepared by local costermongers and the ice arrives in large blocks, as it would have done in 1900. The scene is set for an afternoon of fun and games, with live entertainment.

But first, Joyce has an urgent appointment with the dentist. She's lost a filling and on this occasion, she's opted to have it replaced the modern way. Who can blame her? In Victorian England there were no regulations governing dentistry — anyone could set up as a dentist. And although fillings were possible, they were not for the fainthearted: molten metal would be poured into cavities and allowed to set.

The day after the party and the Bowlers have just 24 hours to go before re-entering the modern world. When poultry historian Fred Hams arrives to take away the hens that have been providing the family's eggs for the last three months, a distraught Ruth breaks down in tears. Her twin, Hilary, is taking it equally hard. "I'm going to miss it here", she confides to the video in the bedroom, "it was something that was just amazing, it was so brilliant. It's just one of those things you want to keep forever."

The day of departure dawns bright and sunny and it's time to start reverting to their 1990 personas. Paul's moustache is the first to go — swiftly followed by the Victorian dress they've all grown accustomed to. "I can't believe how small my underwear is," Joyce cries, liberated at last from corset and bloomers. But as they shut the door of the 1900 house behind them for the last time, the mood is reflective. "It sounds ridiculous, but I honestly feel like I'll leave part of myself behind," says Joyce.

Their first taste of the modern world is a motorway service station. Joyce searches in her purse to pay for three burgers. "That's four months' wages!" she remarks.


The Good Old Days
Thursday, 4 November, 9.00 pm
(repeats on Sunday, 7 November)

After ten weeks in the 1900 House, the Bowler family concludes that in the absence of TV, radio and computer games, middle class Victorian life could be stiflingly boring. Long evenings spent devising their own entertainment have lost their charm. Joyce is at her wit's end: "I know exactly why, when the Victorians did things, they threw themselves into it... They were looking for some mental stimulation".

To break out of the dull routine, they embark on a new nightly ritual of reading a newspaper. Almost half of it consists of advertisements — which offer the Bowlers the prospect of fresh amusements. Mail order was well-established by 1900 and they take delivery of two of the newest devices available to Victorian middle-class families: a typewriter — a must for any girl aiming for the brave new world of secretarial work; and a Kodak Box Brownie — the world's first widely-affordable camera. Both were luxury items paid for on HP, which in 1900 first brought home shopping to the masses.

Twins, Ruth and Hilary, are inspired to use the camera on a new project: producing their own magazine. It can't come too soon for 16-year-old Kathryn, who's been trying to wade through a copy of the Girls Own Annual. She concludes it's a waste of time: "It tells you pointless, boring stories," she says.

The Bowlers finally find escape during a visit to the Players' Old Time Music Hall — one of the last surviving Music Halls in Britain. It seems impossibly glamorous and alluring. Joyce and Kathryn decide they want a chance to tread the boards and begin preparing their own routine for the theatre's monthly 'New Faces' audition.

Paul meanwhile, has been investigating the dangers lurking on the street outside the middle class Victorian home. He discovers that mugging was twice as common as it is today; prostitutes regularly propositioned men on street corners and ten per cent of British men were believed to be infected with syphilis. Worse still, with his wife and daughter busy preparing for their stage debut, he learns that in Victorian times, actresses were considered akin to prostitutes. Joyce and Kathryn are risking social suicide.

But they go ahead regardless. Backstage, on the day of the audition, mother and daughter put on make-up for the first time in their 1900 existence. To do so in the London suburbs would have been scandalous. Their performance goes without a hitch, all signs of stage fright disguised under a highly polished performance. But Joyce's routine is deemed too modern, and they don't make the footlights.

Still the experience has been exhilarating. "Being able to reinvent myself as 1900 woman in a way has allowed me to be myself, which is really scary, " says Joyce.


Women's Liberation
Thursday, 28 October, 9.00 pm
(repeats on Sunday, 31 October)

Living in a time warp can be hard when the view from the window of the 1900 House is of the modern world beyond. Joyce, who has been living as a Victorian housewife for two months now, just seen a man in T-shirt and shorts going for a run. This reminds her that in her modern day life, she goes jogging almost every day. In her 1900 incarnation, the only exercise she's had is scrubbing floors. She concludes that the position of women in the past century has changed beyond recognition.

But now the Bowlers have discovered that in 1900 swimming was a popular pastime and deck themselves out in Victorian swimming costumes. They may be made of wool serge and reach their knees, but after all the clothes they have been wearing, the swimsuits are liberating.

The Bowlers prepare to set off to the local baths. By 1900, swimming baths had been around for 50 years and offered added facilities for washing and delousing. But Joyce and Kathryn are excluded from the family outing, because they have their periods. Although sanitary towels were manufactured from the 1890s, they were eventually withdrawn because they offended public decency. Joyce, like her Victorian counterparts, makes her own sanitary towels out of cotton rags.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth, the maid has been instructed in the art of spring-cleaning, Victorian-style. In 1900, many servants worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week. Because of the ever-present danger of disease, the Victorians were obsessed with bugs and germs and soon Elizabeth is taking the cast-iron beds to pieces so she can scrub every nook and cranny. An outbreak of bubonic plague in Glasgow in 1900 served as a sharp reminder to Victorians that death still lurked around every corner.

Meanwhile Joyce, relieved of the domestic chores, has time on her hands. In 1900, having a maid gave middle-class women the freedom to campaign for women's rights. And using the latest invention - a safety bicycle for women as advertised in the London Illustrated News - Joyce sets off to investigate the history of the suffragette movement. Despite her fears at coming a cropper in her long skirts, she loves it." Hey, I'm free," she shouts happily, whizzing through the local park.

But the more Joyce learns about the battle for women's rights, the worse she feels about employing a maid to do her own dirty work. "I feel in a quandary really. Thinking back, middle class women then had this support system of servants, maids - which gave them the freedom to campaign for the vote. I don't feel very comfortable about it."

As her unease grows, Joyce decides to 'liberate' Elizabeth. But instead of confronting her face-to-face, she writes to tell her.

In 1900, without a good reference, women like Elizabeth would have had little hope of getting another position. Luckily, in the modern world, that doesn't apply. But all the same, Elizabeth is incredulous. "That's unbelievable that is," she says. "I'd like to see what that house looks like in a couple of weeks when I'm not there."


Upstairs Downstairs
Thursday, 21 October, 9.00 pm
(repeats on Sunday, 24 October)

Half-way through the Bowler's time-travel experiment, their newly-appointed maid-of-all-work arrives to relieve Joyce of some of the burdens of running a Victorian household. Domestic servants were commonplace at the turn of the century and families like the Bowlers would have had at least one. But as Elizabeth sets to work, scrubbing, dusting and blackleading the range, Joyce's conscience begins to trouble her: "Part of me is thinking 'oh good, I don't have to do all the horrible housework'...and part of me is saying 'that's awful, you've got somebody else - a woman at that - cleaning up after you'."

But Elizabeth seems happy enough - even though her wage will amount to just 4d for a full day's work - roughly equivalent to 30p per hour today. While she hones her 1900 cleaning skills, the Bowler family practise entertaining Victorian-style, in anticipation of a visit by project curator, Daru Rookes. They plan to stage a faggot-party, an American import of the day, which requires everyone to provide some form of amusement.

Daru's visit provides the excuse for PAUL to demonstrate his skills as a photographer, using a hand-crafted camera and glass plates. The resulting family photo is developed in the sink - mercifully without the use of cyanide, which was commonly used in Victorian developing. Photo enthusiasts ran the risk of being poisoned over time or gradually going mad.

The evening's entertainment proves a great success and the Bowlers sit down to a dinner starting with a dish of Mrs Beeton's potted beans. It is served by Elizabeth, whose early enthusiasm for her work is fading fast. She has burned her hand on the range, her feet and back are killing her and she's stuck in the scullery, missing all the fun. But next door, at the dinner table, the master of the house is less than sympathetic: "Where is she?" Paul demands impatiently, "She hasn't taken the cheese away for goodness' sake. She's a maid of all work, she's paid to do jobs."

Paul has a serious attitude problem, according to Elizabeth, and she's not about to put up with it for much longer. "I was treated like a real skivvy," she says, "Women's liberation and the women's movement, I've never really been into them before, but after this, they've got my fullest respect." Part six of nine.


How to be a Victorian
Thursday, 14 October, 9.00 pm
(repeats on Sunday, 17 October)

A month into The 1900 House experiment and the Bowlers are coming to terms with their new identities. To live as a Victorian, Joyce has had to give up work and is getting frustrated with an endless routine of cleaning and cooking. It's uphill all the way.

Clad in a striped apron and wielding an array of buckets and bristle brushes, she wages a daily battle against the dust thrown up by coal fires, gaslights and the kitchen range. "This house is like cleaning the Forth Bridge", she says, "you start at one end and work you way down and as soon as you've finished, it's all come back."

After four weeks of drudgery, the endless chores are taking a toll on Joyce's nerves. "All I'm doing is just keeping this house clean, it's just so boring. It think I'll go stark staring mad, or just leave. Because to think that my only aim in life is just to remove dust and fluff - no thanks!"

But instead, Joyce comes up with a 1900 solution: finding a servant to do the dirty work, as most women in her position would have done a hundred years ago. And at just £20 a year for a maid of all work, it's a snip - well within her household budget. She places an advert in the local paper and waits, while the dust continues to gather.

Paul too, is grappling with his expected role as Victorian master of the house. He's shocked to learn from Cassell's - the Victorian household bible - that whatever he says, goes. But the Bowler who's having most difficulty coming to terms with her 1900 identity is 16-year-old Kathryn. She's discovering the hard way that the challenge of living as a Victorian teenager is no compensation for the absence of pizzas, videos and nights out clubbing.

Victorian girls of her age had no social life. The highlight used to be the monthly church dance. Girls like Kathryn lived at home until they married and dating was out of the question. Even thinking about men was considered taboo. Kathryn's mood worsens with each new revelation.

Joyce's attempts to distract her daughter by arranging piano lessons - a popular Victorian pastime - fail to pay off. Kathryn is seriously thinking of walking out on the time travel experience altogether.

Just in time, Charlie the local greengrocer offers Kathryn a Saturday job. Meanwhile, Joyce's own worries about the housework are receding. Her advertisement for a maid of all work has brought some replies and she's eagerly anticipating a new life as a lady of leisure.


Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Thursday, 7 October, 9.00 pm
(repeats on Sunday, 10 October)

The Bowlers are a week into their time travel experience and have established a routine of sorts. The children have settled into their new schools. The 1900 House rules allow them to wear modern school uniforms but they must change at a neighbour's house. No modern appliances or products must be brought into the house. Paul, a Royal Marine, has been transferred to a local regiment, but wears an authentic 1900 uniform. He gets used to being looked at on his journey to work. Joyce, however, has temporarily given up her job as a Nursery School Inspector and instead grapples with the apparently endless domestic chores.

But all is not well. It's six days since any of the family have had a decent wash and there's a growing mood of desperation: "I'm fed up with being dirty, smelly, greasy and skanky," 16-year-old Kathryn confides to a video camera." I want to go home".

The range cooker in the kitchen may be state-of-the-art by 1900 standards, but it's not providing hot water to the upstairs bathroom. Paul's attempts at Victorian technology have come to nothing. The Bowlers are forced to call in Mike Bishop — the 20th century expert who installed the range — he cleans it out, but advises them to scale down their expectations.

Joyce, meanwhile, is having a bad hair day — and it's about to get worse. With the invention of shampoo nearly 50 years away, she washes her hair in soapy water — and almost weeps at the results. Just a week into the experiment, she gives in to temptation. The Bowlers have an account at the local Co-op and although they've agreed to buy only products available in 1900, in a moment of desperation, a bottle of shampoo finds it way into their shopping basket. But they can't deal with the knowledge that they've broken the rules they agreed to live by. They resolve to throw away the shampoo and start again.

On Monday, the first Victorian washday looms — with every stage to be done by hand. It's such a big job that 11-year-old twins Ruth and Hilary are kept off school to help out, as water's brought to boil in a copper — a large metal tub over a coal fire. It's slow, arduous work, requiring plenty of elbow grease at every stage. They discover it takes 12 hours to achieve what a modern washing machine can do in a 40-minute cycle. As the twins struggle with a wringer in the back garden, the women of the house become increasingly resentful of Paul who's out at work all day and free of all the household chores. He even finds the time to drop in on a barber for advice on how to wield the four-inch steel blade he uses as a razor.

Eight days into the experiment and the Victorian domestic routine has stripped Joyce's hands have become dry and sore. Middle-class Victorian women made their own cosmetics and on the advice of expert Daru Rooke, Joyce and daughter Kathryn brew up a mixture based on white wax and glycerine to act as a moisturiser. Rubbing it into her skin, Joyce notes that "It smells like something you might rub into an old horse."

Meanwhile, the hot-water problem still has not been solved. Mike Bishop returns to tackle the kitchen range again — and this time, it works. As Joyce heads upstairs to run a bath, her gloom at the prospect of not having a proper wash for three months begins to lift. "I just wanted to come upstairs and sing Glory Hallelujah" she says," because we've got hot water in the pipes and it's only half-11, so it's bloody marvellous."


A Rude Awakening
Thursday, 29 September, 9.00 pm
(repeats on Sunday, 3 October)

The Bowlers wake up to their first day in the 1900 house with trepidation. Paul's first triumph has been to keep the kitchen range burning throughout the night. From now on, it will be central to their existence as an ordinary family at the turn of the century - their cooker, toaster and only source of heating and hot water.

There is no hot water and more unpleasant discoveries lie in store. The milk's gone off overnight, the potties need emptying in the outdoor toilet and there's no toothpaste. Instead, there is a choice between salt and neat bicarbonate of soda. As Paul tries out his 1900-syle cut-throat razor and Joyce squeezes into her whalebone corset, the family realise the three-month experiment may not be plain sailing.

One consolation is the steady stream of local tradesmen selling food door-to door, as they would have done in the Victorian era. They will be a regular feature of the Bowlers' lives in the coming months. But they can only supply produce available in 1900. The same is true of the Co-op round the corner and the local greengrocer, Charlie, who can only offer the Bowlers English springtime produce and fruit which would have been imported from the Empire in refrigerated steamships.

Meanwhile, Joyce's 44th birthday is looming and everyone's keen to make it special. Paul's planning to surprise her by ordering some hens to keep in the back garden as a steady source of fresh eggs. The Bowler children are making their own presents. But baking a birthday cake in an oven with no temperature controls proves more challenging.

Joyce has her own problems getting to grips with Victorian technology. She's appalled by how long the simplest domestic task can take. On day three, with breakfast barely over, she has to start cooking lunch, and the tension begins to mount. The macaroni won't cook, but her rhubarb compote burns to a crisp. She cracks, stomping out into the back garden. "Three rotten days", she shouts, tearfully.

While she goes out for a walk to cool off, twins Ruth and Hilary try to rescue the birthday cake with Mrs Beeton's chocolate icing. Their initial enthusiasm for the time-travel experiment is clearly waning. "I didn't think Mum would break down," says Hilary. "It's just not brilliant any more. " Meanwhile, the hens and a cockerel arrive and Paul builds a hen house. By a miracle it's ready when Joyce returns and she is thrilled. There's hope yet that the birthday will be a success.

Even the sad-looking cake looks better now it's iced and the candles are lit. The family is beginning to discover that living in the past does have its advantages. "I think we're more of a family together now," says Ruth, "In 1999 you can go off and do things, whereas we now have to work as team."


The Time Travelers

Thursday, 23 September, 9.00pm
(repeated on Sunday, 26 September)

The Bowler family is still euphoric about the prospect of living as Victorians. In their Somerset home, they celebrate their last evening for three months as a modern family with a decadent junk food supper.

Joseph, aged 9, and twins Ruth and Hilary, aged 11, will relocate to schools in London and Kathryn, aged 16 to a local college. The children can wear uniforms to school but must change in a neighbour's house. Paul, a Royal Marine, has been transferred to a local regiment but will wear the authentic 1900 uniform. Joyce must stay at home, as a woman of her class would have done and has temporarily given up her job as a Nursery School Inspector.

At 50 Elliscombe Road in London,the Bowlers' new 1900 home, the historical advisor Daru Rooke's work is coming to an end: "What the Bowlers will be doing over the next three months," he says "is putting the flesh on a small chapter of human history."

Before they embark on this special journey, the family spends three days at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, where staff at the Museum of Domestic Culture, introduce them to the forgotten and potentially dangerous skills of washing, cooking and cleaning the Victorian way.

The Bowlers must now abide by a strict set of rules in an effort to live exactly as Victorians would have done. Like their Victorian counterparts, they will only possess three outfits and three sets of underwear each. Video cameras have been installed in two of the bedrooms to encourage the family to use them as a regular method of communication, rather like a video diary.

As they prepare to visit their new home for the first time, the excitement mounts. "When I got dressed this morning, I just felt so special prancing around, twirling my skirt. It was lovely," said Kathryn. "I haven't been this excited since my wedding day," says Joyce.

A horse and cart takes the Bowlers to The 1900 House and they are cheered by their new neighbours. Daru Rooke is there to greet them but as he leaves he muses: "I must say, I am nervous for the family. Will they be frightened of the dark, will they get sick? It's one thing to do this as an adult but with four lively children, 90 days can be a very long time."

As Daru leaves the Bowlers for their first night alone as Victorians, a problem arises. Kathryn is feeling poorly, she has a sore throat. But what is the best way to deal with this 1900-style?


The Time Machine
Wednesday, 22 September, 8.30pm
(a one hour special)

The past comes to life in a major new series, The 1900 House, an experiment in living history that illustrates how radically our lives have been changed by technology in the past hundred years. The Bowlers, a thoroughly modern family of six, were selected from over 400 families around the UK to embark on a unique time travel journey to 1900. For three months they swap the luxury of 1999 for a life of urban Victorian domesticity.

The series starts with a one-hour special which goes behind-the-scenes to find out how The 1900 House was set up. After much research, 50 Elliscombe Road in London — an ordinary terraced house in the shadow of the Millennium Dome — is to be transformed into a time machine. It is typical of the urban housing inhabited by the aspiring lower-middle classes at the turn of the century. In 1900, it would have cost 300; and was bought for the series for 131,000.

Victorian specialist and museum curator, Daru Rooke became the guide on this massive renovation project. "It's a period that's within living memory, " he said. "But it will seem as strange to a modern family as a Roman encampment might do." Daru led a team of experts, which included architects, builders, gardeners and prop buyers. They had only four months to transform the thoroughly modern Elliscombe Road into its 1900 incarnation.