The Blackguard Boys

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Episode 1 of 5

Duration: 15 minutes

Factual drama series which draws on the archives of the Old Bailey online project to bring to life the most extraordinary trials from history. Tales of crime and punishment are laid bare as the courtroom fills, and as witnesses, lawyers, judge and jury hear of crimes across three centuries. Each film follows one trial from beginning to end, flashing back to the crime scene as the story develops. The court reporter provides a vital link between past and present, guiding the audience through the intricacies of each case.

The Blackguard Boys - 1731

Two 11- and 12-year-old boys are caught stealing laundry that has been put out to dry on bushes on common land. In an attempt to save his own skin, Thomas Coleman reveals his part in a gang of orphaned boys known as 'blackguards'. Coleman reveals crime after crime, and paints a picture of the life he and the boys lead - the real life Oliver Twist. He stands trial but is acquitted, but his testimony sees other boys from his gang convicted and transported.

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