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How real was the 1890s experience?

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Ceri Rowlands Ceri Rowlands | 12:43 UK time, Friday, 5 November 2010

A question often asked by viewers about Snowdonia 1890 is 'just how real was the families' experience?'. A few people firmly believe that once the cameras stopped rolling the Braddocks and Joneses left the smallholding for the modern comforts of a hotel or B&B. Some doubt that the families actually tended to their livestock. Others are convinced that the Braddocks running out of food or the animals escaping were staged events. The truth is, the production team’s overriding objective was to give the families as authentic an experience as possible (health and safety concerns allowing).

Mark and Alisa Braddock

Mark and Alisa Braddock

So, for one month, they lived as closely and as realistically as possible to the experience of 1890s smallholders. There was no escape back to the 21st century. Food supplies and money were rationed so as to realistically reflect what their Victorian counterparts would have had to contend with. When Alisa Braddock broke down because she was running out of food her distress was real, as was the families’ concern that they wouldn’t be able to meet their rent.

But it’s not just viewers that have questioned just how real the 1890s experience actually was. Before they embarked on their time-travelling journey, we warned both families not to expect ‘pretend living’. We even used the phrase in the series application form! Both the Joneses and the Braddocks had to agree to live as closely as they could to experience of 1890s smallholders. But some individuals, Mark Braddock in particular, were genuinely shocked that we were true to our word. He was fully expecting ‘fluffy robes, location catering and a Winnebago’. The actual conditions on the smallholding came as a bit of a shock to him!


  • Comment number 1.

    A great series! Any chance of us having copies of the manuals given to the families made available? We live on and work a smallholding in Wales and I love to think of our predecessors and how they lived. It's still a tough life and that's without a daily trip to the slate quarry for my husband.


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