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Back in Time for Tea

From burger pies to Vimto trifle, the Ellis’ indulge in the heritage of the North through

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, will be based on historical data and spending surveys of the era. The Ellis’ will 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.

In the final episode of the series, the family reflects on their time travel adventure, and explores how the legacy of a hundred years of tumultuous history lives on in the northern diet today. Lesley and Sara visit a Liverpool bakery using the humble loaf to re-build a shattered community, and sisters Caitlin and Freya explore how recent changes on Manchester’s Curry Mile tell us about our evolving relationship with flavour.

After seeing kids increasingly targeted by food manufacturers over the eras, Harvey and Sara find out just how far novelty foods have come these days with a modern game that requires a very strong stomach…

Jon heads back to the mill to show Harvey how Yokshire’s textile heritage has used its specialisms to survive the decline of the industry. They’ll explore how the stereotype of the Yorkshire man in flat cap has been given a modern and hugely successful twist by local hat designer Rhian Kempadoo Millar.

The girls travel to Blackburn to meet Zainab Bilal, a one-woman pie business who is combining our modern love of easy fast food with this age-old favourite. Caitlin and Freya help her make a batch of ‘burger pies’, to explore just what it is that has made the humble pie such a winner for working families throughout history.

Finally, Sara and northern chef Rob Owen Brown prepare a celebration meal for the family. Using cuts of meat and nostalgic flavours the family might have turned their noses up at in the past, Sara then joins Polly and the family to raise a glass to the modern legacy of the north’s culinary history.

59 minutes

Last on

Thu 23 Jul 2020 19:00

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Music Played

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

  • 00:05

    Paloma Faith

    Ready For The Good Life

  • 00:06

    Eliza and the Bear

    Let Us Be Young

  • 00:08

    Shirley & Lee

    Let The Good Times Roll

  • 00:08

    Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield

    What Have I Done To Deserve This?

  • 00:11

    Electric Light Orchestra

    Mr. Blue Sky

  • 00:16

    Paul Anka

    My Home Town

  • 00:17

    The Hollies

    Don't Ever Think About Changing

  • 00:19


    Free (feat. Emeli Sandé)

  • 00:20


    Free (feat. Emeli Sandé)

  • 00:22

    Wanda Jackson

    Let's Have A Party

  • 00:23

    Simple Minds

    Don't You (Forget About Me)

  • 00:26

    Gabrielle Aplin


  • 00:27

    The Archies

    Sugar, Sugar

  • 00:28

    The Archies

    Sugar, Sugar

  • 00:30

    Django Django


  • 00:32

    David Bowie

    Suffragette City

  • 00:33

    Kim Wilde

    Kids In America

  • 00:33

    Kim Wilde

    Kids In America

  • 00:36


    True Love

  • 00:38

    Depeche Mode

    People Are People

  • 00:40

    Florence + the Machine

    How Big, How Blue

  • 00:43



  • 00:50



  • 00:55

    Jessie Ware


  • 00:56

    Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

    AKA... What A Life!

  • 00:56

    Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Noel Gallagher

    Aka... What A Life!


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


  • Tue 13 Mar 2018 20:00
  • Sun 18 Mar 2018 16:45
  • Sun 18 Mar 2018 17:00
  • Fri 6 Apr 2018 01:50
  • Wed 25 Jul 2018 19:00
  • Thu 23 Jul 2020 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.