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Sam Willis explores the golden age of piracy during the early 18th century and charts the devastating impact pirates had during an age of colonial expansion.

Few figures in British history have captured the popular imagination as much as the outlaw. From gentleman highwaymen, via swashbuckling pirates to elusive urban thieves and rogues, the brazen escapades and the flamboyance of the outlaw made them the antihero of their time - feared by the rich, admired by the poor and celebrated by writers and artists.

In this three-part series, historian Dr Sam Willis travels the open roads, the high seas and urban alleyways to explore Britain's 17th- and 18th-century underworld of highwaymen, pirates and rogues, bringing the great age of the British outlaw vividly to life.

Sam shows that, far from being 'outsiders', outlaws were very much a product of their time, shaped by powerful national events. In each episode, he focuses not just on a particular type of outlaw, but a particular era - the series as a whole offers a chronological portrait of the changing face of crime in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Sam takes to the high seas in search of the swashbuckling pirates of the golden age of piracy during the early 18th century. Following in the wake of the infamous Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, Calico Jack and others, Sam charts the devastating impact these pirates had during an era of colonial expansion and how, by plundering the vast network of seaborne trade, they became the most-wanted outlaws in the world.

1 hour

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:35

    Amon Tobin

    Surge

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Sam Willis
Producer Matthew Thomas
Director Matthew Thomas
Series Producer William Naylor
Executive Producer Michael Poole

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