Best Living History Documentary TV Shows from USA and UK
What are Living History Shows?
Living History TV shows, or history re-enactment shows are a combination of documentary, drama and reality tv show. It usually involves the recreation of a particular period, place or event in history, and putting modern people and families in the show. One of the big factors in determining whether a living history show is successful is the people participating. Sometimes the people in the shows are expert in their particular field of history, sometimes they are keen history enthusiasts and sometimes just ordinary people. The important thing is that are enthusiastic and ready to throw themselves in to the programme, and the past.
Top 10 Living History Shows
- Tales from the Green Valley - this was a living history show set in the early 1600s during the reign of King James I, in a small farm in rural Wales. It ran for 12 half hour episodes, each episode half an hour and covering life on the farm in one month of the year. It starred historians Stuart Peachey and Ruth Goodman, as well as archeologists Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Chloe Spencer. It covered topics as diverse as planting & harvesting, salting and smoking hams, playing games and doing the washing.
- 1900 House - A modern day family from 1999 move back into a restored 1900 Victorian London town house, kitted out exactly as it would have been at the turn of the century. Interestingly the first episode covers the retro-fitting the house, removing electricity and plumbing and all mod cons etc. before moving on to the actual series.
- Victorian Farm - This starred Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn who starred together in Tales from the Green Valley. Victorian Farm was set in the late 1800s in a farm in Shropshire, England. In included 12 episodes, one for each month of the year and covered topics such as animal husbandry, bee keeping and building a pigsty.There was also a separate 3 episodes about Christmas - Victorian Farm Christmas
- Edwardian Farm - Starring the same cast as Victorian Farm, this turns the clock forward to the Edwardian era, shortly before World War One.
- Colonial House - Set in 1626 in Maine, this series recreates life for early American settlers in New England. An excellent series somewhat let down by an unenthusiastic family who didn't play by the rules!
- Frontier House - Similar to Colonial House, but set on the frontier in the American West in the mid-1800s. The families in this got a lot more involved and weren't so annoying.
- Turn Back Time - A recent BBC tv series recreating the British High Street in different era's from the Victorian Era, through the war years to the 1970s. A fascinating series with a good, enthusiastic cast, who were actual real life modern day shopkeepers and their families.
- 1940s House - By the makers of the 1900 House, this one covers the period 1939-1945, compressed into 9 weeks for the making of the series. Considered one of the best of the 'House' historical re-enactment series.
- Coal House - Not in the same series as the other 'House' series, it is nevertheless very good, following the fortunes of several families in a 1920's coal mining village in Wales. There is also a follow up series, Coal House at War.
- Mastercrafts with Monty Don - Not quite a living history series, in this show, each episode features a different craft, with several keen enthusiasts attempting to learn the historical craft, to a standard that they could do it as a living. Crafts covered in the first series include blacksmithing, thatching, weaving and making stained glass.