Jeremy Paxman takes his love of Victorian paintings as the starting point for a journey into Victorian Britain. Such pictures may not be fashionable today, but they are a goldmine of information about the most dynamic age in British history.
Part 1: Painting The Town
He investigates the most dramatic event of Victorian Britain: the explosion of great cities. At first the Victorians feared these new monsters in their midst, but then grew to love and transform them.
Jeremy explores the canals and sewers, suburbs and back streets, workhouses and magnificent buildings of the great Victorian city, while also experiencing the fun-filled chaos of Derby Day.
Part 2: Home Sweet Home
Jeremy Paxman continues his exploration of the Victorian world by entering the typical Victorian home, a haven of order, respectability and morality.
But not everything was always as it should be, with sexual double standards and the perils of drink, disease and poverty all threatening to destroy the cherished dream of Home Sweet Home.
Part 3: Having It All
Jeremy Paxman continues his exploration of the Victorian world. Inspired by the paintings of the day, he tells the story of Victorian power.
Railways, factories and military might made Britain the richest country in the world. Paxman finds British generals dressed in togas in the Foreign Office, meets the horse that led the Charge of the Light Brigade, drives a steam train and visits a fort, a steelworks and a millionaire’s mansion to tell the story of the time when Britain seemed to be having it all.
Part 4: Dreams and Nightmares
Jeremy Paxman discovers how, in the dying years of Victoria’s reign, artists led a revolt against Victorian values of money and morality, preferring to create a world filled with medieval knights and damsels, dreams and fairies, sex and death.
He meets a pair of spiritualist mediums, visits a collection of Victorian nudes and is allowed into Broadmoor hospital in search of mad Victorian artist Richard Dadd.