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Episode 5

The Ellis family experience the chintz of the 80s and the swagger of the 90s. From burgers to BMX bikes, this era is one filled with change, chance and character.

The Ellis family from Bradford are embarking on an extraordinary time-travelling adventure to discover how a transformation in the food eaten in the north of England can reveal how life has changed for northern working-class families over the past 100 years.

The family's own home is their time machine, transporting them through a different era each week - from the sparse furnishings and meagre provisions of 1918 to the modern home comforts and bulging freezer of 1999.

Guided through their time travel by Bolton-born presenter Sara Cox and social historian Polly Russell, everything the family of five experience - from the jobs they do to the food they eat - is based on historical data and spending surveys of the era. The Ellises live through a time of dramatic change in the industrial north - experiencing everything from the mill to the mine, The Beatles to Thatcher and bland potato pie to the spicy delights of the curry capital of the UK.

The Ellises' 80s home is a homage to chintz and magnolia with the exciting addition of some new technology: their first telephone, a chest freezer and that 80s kitchen essential - a toastie maker! Whilst traditional food still takes precedence at home, 1983 sees a revolution in eating out for the family, who enjoy a feast with top chef Marcus Wareing at a chain which launched that year - Harvester. The continuing influence of food from across the Atlantic means the girls get a job flipping burgers at Wimpy, while the boys pick up tea at a drive-thru fish and chip shop.

With Margaret Thatcher in power, the north experiences turbulent times. The family support dad Jon as he goes on strike from his job down the mine, and their bare kitchen cupboards are supplemented with a surprising Soviet food parcel. High unemployment across the region sees a widening of the north-south divide, although new government policies give enterprising northerners the chance to start their own business. Jon and Lesley get a jacket potato van and soon realise that owning your own business means working come rain or shine. But it's not all work, work, work. With an outing to the dog races, BMX riding and Bullseye on the telly, there's still plenty of time for fun.

By the 90s, the north is back on the map as the Manchester music scene captures the nation and everyone wants a slice of northern cool. The girls dance the night away with Manchester's very own Sean Ryder and experience the boom of late-night kebab shops whilst indulging in a chip naan.

To celebrate the end of their time-travel journey, the family gather their nearest and dearest for a millennium party. With a beer in hand, black peas in their bellies and a fireworks display, the Ellises are ready to party like it's 1999!

59 minutes

Last on

Tue 24 Jul 2018 19:00

Music Played

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

  • 00:02

    New Order

    Blue Monday

  • 00:05



  • 00:06



  • 00:10

    Keith Mansfield


    Orchestra: Sound Stage Orchestra.
  • 00:14

    The Human League

    Love Action (I Believe In Love)

  • 00:15

    Bucks Fizz

    Making Your Mind Up

  • 00:16


    I Don't Like That (Interlude) (feat. Bristal & Mark Curry)

  • 00:21

    New Order

    Blue Monday

  • 00:22

    Kim Wilde

    Kids In America

  • 00:24

    Culture Club

    Karma Chameleon

  • 00:25

    Frankie Goes to Hollywood

    Two Tribes

  • 00:33

    Simply Red

    Money's Too Tight (To Mention)

  • 00:35

    Joe Jackson

    Steppin' Out

  • 00:40

    The Housemartins

    Caravan Of Love

  • 00:45

    The Christians

    Hooverville (And They Promised Us The World)

  • 00:45

    Beats International

    Dub Be Good To Me

  • 00:46

    Happy Mondays

    Do It Better

  • 00:47



  • 00:49

    Happy Mondays

    Step On

  • 00:52

    Richard Ashcroft

    Lucky Man

  • 00:52

    The Verve

    Lucky Man


Role Contributor
Presenter Sara Cox
Presenter Polly Russell
Executive Producer Emily Shields
Series Producer Christina Nutter
Production Company Wall to Wall Media


  • Tue 6 Mar 2018 20:00
  • Sun 11 Mar 2018 14:45
  • Sun 11 Mar 2018 16:10
  • Fri 30 Mar 2018 01:45
  • Tue 24 Jul 2018 19:00

Nine ways life was different Up North

Nine ways life was different Up North

Here are some of the favourite things we learned from the series.