The Thames Britain’s Great River: With Tony Robinson
Tony Robinson explores the history, influence and population of the world-famous Thames. It runs right through London – the place where he was born and where his family have lived for 300 years.
Tony Robinson explores the history, influence and population of the world-famous Thames. Beginning at the river’s source in Gloucestershire, he meets a professional crayfish catcher, investigates the water’s cleanliness, and learns the uses the Home Guard put the river to in WWII.
The actor and presenter follows the river as it winds its way through the Thames valley, stopping off at Henley-on-Thames, and then on towards the palace at Hampton Court. In the village of Clifton Hampden, he tries his hand at sailing a skiff, and later visits Thames Water’s most advanced sewage plant. In Henley-on-Thames, Tony attempts to cox a crew from the elite Leander Rowing Club, Britain’s most successful sporting team who boast 124 Olympic medals, and at Hampton Court Palace, he boards the gold-encrusted Glorianna, the Queen’s Royal Barge
Reaching central London, the actor and presenter boards an industrial working ship on the Thames, learning it is a route not without risks as ships must squeeze under bridges at high tide and avoid running aground at low tide. At the Chelsea embankment, Tony explores the Physic Gardens where early botanical remedies were created from exotic plants brought in by river from all over the world. On the south bank, he goes mudlarking, scouring the shore at low tide for objects discarded by revellers past, before getting a bird’s-eye-view of the river from the Shard. Tony’s final stop is Tower Bridge.
The actor visits the East End of London, going on patrol with the Metropolitan Police Marine Unit and attending an emergency call-out to an unexploded bomb. At Billingsgate fish market, Tony reflects on his teenage years working on the docks, before ending his journey in the Thames Estuary. He discovers that the river is now cleaner than it has been for 500 years, which is encouraging seals to once again claim the waters as their home.