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Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Where was Turn Back Time filmed?
A: Turn Back Time was filmed in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.


Q: Can I visit the set?
A: The series was filmed over the summer of 2010 and while the market square itself still remains, the area has been restored to its original appearance. The residents of Shepton Mallet and the Council fully embraced the Turn Back Time experience and they welcome visitors.

For viewers who want to continue the Turn Back Time experience in their own area, log onto the BBC's Hands on History site.


Q: How were the families chosen?
A: The producers chose a variety of shop-keeping families who were the modern-day counterparts of the historic traders. They had some of the skills necessary to take on the challenge of the series, but what they all shared was a willingness to throw themselves into the experiment and to share with viewers what it's like to live and trade in different eras of history.


Q: How did the Chamber of Commerce work?
A: The families were overseen by a Chamber of Commerce which headed up the experiment and enforced historically accurate rules and regulations as the decades ticked by.

The members of the Chamber of Commerce all brought different expertise: Gregg Wallace might be best known by viewers for being one of the judges on BBC One's MasterChef, but he is a greengrocer by trade and was interested to see how the business models fared. He asked the customers what they thought of each era and fed back customer opinion, progress and results to the shopkeepers.

Juliet Gardiner is one of Britain's leading social historians. She was there to put the shopkeepers' experience in context and to pull them up when they weren't living or trading by the rules of the day.

Tom Herbert successfully runs traditional high street businesses. He's a fifth generation baker with a keen interest in the history of food, and he was there to keep an eye on the shopkeepers' produce and their business acumen.


Q: How did you source the props and clothes for each period?
A: Turn Back Time was a huge living history experiment and clothes and props were the responsibility of the Art Department and the Costume Department respectively. Props came from a variety of sources, from auction houses to collectors - it was a challenge to find things that worked because, as the shopkeepers discovered, period technology can be unreliable!

Costumes were either made to measure or hired; some of the Victorian costumes are being used for the new series of Sherlock Holmes. The Costume Department did a lot of research - anything from looking for the right type of stripes for butchers' aprons to copying Victorian work wear that they found in museums.


Q: How did you make sure it was all historically accurate?
A: Everyone on the production worked hard to make the experience as historically accurate as possible, but the joy of Turn Back Time is that it took place in a real town with 21st century customers so the modern world crept in from time to time.


Q: How much contact with modern life did the families have?
A: Modern life surrounded the families at all times, but they tried hard to stick to the food, the technology and the clothing of the day.


Q: How much did the families know about the programme when they got involved?
A: The shopkeepers knew that they'd be expected to run shops in six key eras of history, but they didn't know exactly what the Chamber of Commerce had in store for them. They had to deal with whatever history threw at them - they lived and worked through the reigns of six monarchs, two world wars and a total revolution in shopping.

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