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24 Hours in the Past

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Genre  Living history
No. of series  1
Executive producer(s)  Rachel Morgan
Final episode date  19 May 2015
Number of episodes  4
Presented by  Fi Glover, Ruth Goodman
8.1/10 IMDb

Directed by  Chris Parkin
No. of episodes  4
First episode date  28 April 2015
Network  BBC One
Cast  Ruth Goodman, Fi Glover
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Starring  Alistair McGowan Ann Widdecombe Colin Jackson Miquita Oliver Tyger Drew-Honey Zöe Lucker
Similar  Victorian Pharmacy, Edwardian Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Victorian Farm, Britain and the Sea

24 Hours in the Past was a BBC One living history TV series first broadcast in 2015. Six celebrities were immersed in a recreation of impoverished life in Victorian Britain. Each of the four episodes represented 24 hours living and working in four different occupations.


A key part of the series was its immersive nature. The four episodes were ostensibly filmed in direct sequence, and the participants lived, ate and slept in the often filthy conditions portrayed.

Living history has become a popular theme in recent UK TV series, usually involving Ruth Goodman and regular collaborators in a long-term series, filmed in intermittent episodes with a cast of historians. This series took a different pitch, using a continuous filming technique without the respite of hotels between episodes and cast with "the randomest collection of participants" to create an air of surprise at their conditions.

24 hours in the past trailer bbc one


  • Fi Glover
  • Ruth Goodman, well-known consultant historian and TV presenter for many living history series.
  • Participants

  • Alistair McGowan, impressionist
  • Ann Widdecombe, former Conservative MP and cabinet minister
  • Colin Jackson, world champion hurdler
  • Miquita Oliver, TV presenter
  • Tyger Drew-Honey, actor in Outnumbered
  • Zöe Lucker, actress
  • Reception

    Critical reception was muted. Perhaps surprisingly, the most scathing description as "frustrating and pointless watching" came from a more liberal newspaper, The Guardian that might have been expected to make some political capital from the condition of the working class in England.

    Casting of the participants worked well as five of the six were a balanced ensemble. They cooperated as a team and supported each other through adversity. Nor were any of them well-known enough to the audience to engender preconceptions of their personalities or attitudes. The obvious exception was Ann Widdecombe, the best-known of them and notable as a cabinet minister in the Back to Basics government of John Major. With obvious schadenfreude, the audience revelled in her becoming a labour organiser protesting against their oppressive employers. Although such casting could not have been made in ignorance, Widdecombe herself denied that any part was scripted and confirmed that all of the grim accommodation was genuine.

    Viewing figures were unimpressive. Although it did well against other programming in that slot, its series average of 3.3m (16%) was below the BBC1’s slot average of 4.9m for the previous year. Viewing figures for the series dropped from 3.8m for the first episode to 3.2m.


    24 Hours in the Past Wikipedia