Reading the Riot Act

Today it is a phrase more associated with teachers or parents scolding badly behaved children - but back in the 18th Century being 'read the Riot Act' had far more serious consequences, including the possibility of being taken to the gallows to be hanged.

A new series for BBC Radio 4, Voices from the Old Bailey, looks at the origin of the term and hears court testimonies from ordinary people caught up in civil unrest more than 200 years ago.

Here - listen to excerpts from the programme and take a look at how artists helped tell the stories of 18th and 19th Century riots.

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Voices from the Old Bailey can be heard on BBC Radio 4 at 0902 BST on 27 July and 3, 10 and 19 August 2011 - and the BBC iPlayer.

Audio by Loftus Audio, with contributions from historians Peter King, Tim Hitchcock and presenter Amanda Vickery.

Images courtesy Getty Images. Music arranged by David Owen Norris and sung by Gwyneth Herbert.

Slideshow production by Paul Kerley. Publication date 27 July 2011.


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