Professor Amanda Vickery presents dramatised extracts from gripping court cases and discusses with fellow historians what they reveal about 18th century society and culture.
She discusses conmen, and asks what they reveal about appearance, identity and social mobility in the growing city of London, Europe's first metropolis.
The Old Bailey was a theatre in which high and low both played starring roles. This episode's cases mix the greatest writers and artists of the time - Dr Johnson, Joshua Reynolds - with ballad singers, beggars, prostitutes and fraudulent vicars. There is comedy as well as pathos in these cases.
With historians Hannah Grieg, Peter King and Judith Hawley. Recorded on location in Joshua Reynolds' house in Soho.
Producer: Elizabeth Burke
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.