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Tony Robinson enjoys high tea in a reconstruction of the Titanic’s first class restaurant…

Broadcasting

Tony Robinson enjoys high tea in a reconstruction of the Titanic’s first class restaurant…

Step back in time…

This time, Tony is travelling back to explore a time of elegance, innovation and class warfare: the Edwardian period.

Tony begins with two people who travelled on the Titanic. One is ship’s fireman Arthur Priest, who tends the ship’s furnaces. The other is lady’s maid Nellie Barber, who follows her American boss, the rather spoilt Mrs Cavendish, everywhere, prepping and mending her many dresses. While the Cavendishes live in luxurious first class, poor old Arthur sweats away in 50-degree heat and has to make do with eating Mrs Cavendish’s leftovers. But when the iceberg hits, everything changes.

In the Black Country, Tony tells the story of a remarkable woman, 79-year-old Patience Round. Since the age of 10, Patience has been a chain-maker, bashing out over 3,000 miles of chains for agriculture and industry for a miserable wage. But things are changing, and the new Liberal government brings in a new minimum wage. When the industry refuses to pay it, Patience and the other women strike back! Finally, the moving story of two orphaned brothers, one who becomes a dentist, the other a footballer.

Their father, a carpenter from Barbados, married an Englishwoman. When their parents both tragically die, Edward and Walter Tull are sent to an orphanage in Bethnal Green. During a tour with the orphanage choir, Edward is offered a home by a childless Scottish couple, leaving Walter alone.

Edward learns his father’s trade and becomes a dentist, qualifying with flying colours. Meanwhile, Walter becomes a successful footballer. Tony visits the football ground where Walter once played and where he was spotted by Tottenham Hotspur to become England’s first black professional outfield player. Both brothers struggle to overcome racism, but worse is to come, with the First World War and Walter’s heroic death.

Tony Robinson’s History of Britain, Channel 5, 7.30 pm

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