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Historian gives the Georgian home the kiss of life in acclaimed BBC series

Posted on 01/12/2010

Professor Vickery is the writer and presenter of the BBC Two series

Professor Amanda Vickery, from the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London, has unlocked the deepest secrets in the Georgian home for her new three-part BBC Two series, starting tomorrow (2 December) at 9pm.

In ‘At Home with the Georgians’, Professor Vickery traces the story of the unique relationship Britons enjoy with their homes, revealing that the Georgian’s preoccupation with decors helped to redefine the part played by men and women in British society. The programme also, in turn, exposes 18th-century attitudes towards love, sex and health.

The series is based on Professor Vickery’s book Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England that took six years to research and write. She says: “I was delighted when Janice Hadlow, Head of BBC Two, got in touch having read a review copy. She asked me to turn the book into a television series, with the help of an independent production company called Matchlight. It’s in three parts, kicking off with making a home, followed by filling and decorating the home, and finally defending it.”

The series has already had rave reviews from the critics. The Sunday Telegraph said: "Amanda Vickery is a naughty, clever, humorous eavesdropper on the past…She has the Georgians in her sights like no one since Jane Austen". Meanwhile, the Radio Times enjoyed the research behind the series: “The vibrant Professor Amanda Vickery…delves into all manner of unpromising archives to produce, magician-like, revealing nuggets about day-to-day home life in the 18th century. Using a kaleidoscopic range of sources including diaries, inventories, letters and household accounts, she interprets and conceptualises what she reads. Vickery's connection with the people she's researching is infectious.”

Using dramatic reconstruction to breathe life into the personal stories of these characters, viewers will gain access to the dreams, hopes and fears of the Georgians. The Daily Mail said that "these people come vividly alive, often in surprising ways. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Georgian house-hunting was such an emotionally charged process, and driven less by women than by men".

Professor Vickery explains, “I wanted to establish quite how significant homes are in British social, economic, cultural and political life, the civic importance of having your own front door. There is a tendency to reject the subject as somehow womanish, but establishing a home was a focus of hope and an expression of maturity for everyone.”

Dr Sarah Ansari, Head of the Department of History, comments: “’At Home with the Georgians’ highlights the exciting research-led teaching taking place in the Department, with students able to profit from the range of research that is fed by colleagues into the courses on offer here.”

She adds: “This series and the BBC Radio 4 programmes on a 'History of Private Life' broadcast last year are both products of a successful AHRC grant made to Professor Vickery and the Department of History to enable knowledge transfer between academia and the general public. The Department also supports this broader ambition through its unique MA in Public History which aims to train historians to be able to communicate their learning to the wider world.”

‘At Home with the Georgians’ will be broadcast at 9pm on BBC Two every Thursday for the next three weeks.



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