You need to have JavaScript enabled to view this video clip.


Charles Dickens presents a topical chat show about workhouses in Victorian times. In 1861, 35,000 children under 12 lived and worked in workhouses in Britain. A workhouse boy, very like Charles Dickens's famous character Oliver Twist, reports on the living conditions there, including work picking out old ropes, harsh discipline and punishment by whipping. We move on to meet a workhouse cook and find out about the typical diet of a workhouse child. Finally, we meet the activist Thomas Barnado. He tells us about his work to improve life for poor children, including opening the first children's homes.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
29 March 2012

Classroom Ideas

This could begin a theme on the life of the poor in Victorian England. Having investigated areas such as life in the workhouse, jobs for children, living conditions and food they could make their own version of 'The Charles Dickens Show'. Pupils could also investigate the individuals who were important to the lives of Victorian children such as Barnardo. Pupils could write stories from the point of view of a Victorian child. They could compare the life of a Victorian child with a modern child. School could have a 'workhouse meal' to try out the foods eaten. Finally, pupils could find out about Dickens and his child characters.

This clip also features in: