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Historical Reality Shows

Updated on April 1, 2014

Living in the Past

The people in historical reality shows experience what it's truly like to live in the past. At least as real as we're able to make it in the 21st century. They immerse themselves in the day to day lives of people from a certain time era and discover what it was really like to work, cook, clean and live in that time era, often discovering surprising and not-so-surprising differences from current day to day life.

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Historical Reality Shows Set in North America

The shows set in North America have a pretty large timeframe, starting from early Colonization in the 1600 through the settling of the west in the late 1800's. Many of them were filmed over a period of several months.

Set in the 1600s

Colonial House Set in 1628, this show was meant to recreate life in Plymouth Colony. The show featured colonists and members of the Passamaquoddy tribe. Several historians worked to keep the show as accurate as possible.

8- 48 minute episodes

Set in the 1800s

Quest for the Bay Set in the 1840s, a group of 8 people retrace the route taken by the fur traders of the Hudson's Bay Company from Winnipeg to Hudson's Bay, a journey of 1200 km. They travel in York boats, rowing up to 14 hours a day and surviving on period rations and carrying 4000 pounds of cargo and furs.

5- 50 minute episodes.

Texas Ranch House 15 people are plunged into the life of a working 1867 Ranch. For 2 1/2 months, they attempt to run the ranch using only tools available at the time.

8- 60 minute episodes.

Frontier House 3 different families live as homesteaders in Montana in 1883. Each family was expected to establish their homestead and prepare for the Montana winter. The families were judged on their likelihood for survival.

6- 60 minute episodes

Pioneer Quest 2 couples must live as people settling the Canadian Prairie in the late 1800's using only technology and food available at the time.

9- 50 minute episodes

Klondike: The Quest for Gold 5 people experience the gold rush in the Klondike in 1897. They are outfitted with 1400 pounds of equipment in Dyea Alaska and must hike and travel over rivers and lakes to Dawson City. Then they head into the wilderness to look for gold.

4- 47 minute episodes.

Set in the 1900s

Quest For the Sea 5 adults and 5 children discover what it is like to live in a 1937 fishing village in Newfoundland. With only food, clothes and equipment available at the time, the families live in two small houses under a mercantile system and must fish for cod for both food and survival.

9- 50 minute episodes

The 70's House 12 unsuspecting contestants are sent back to the 1970s, leaving behind all modern devices and forced to adopt the lingo and clothing of the time. The competition was to see who can "be the most 70s."

10 episodes

North American Living History on Amazon

These shows are set during the European colonization of North America and the exploration of the frontier.

Historical Reality Shows in Britain

There are quite a number of historical reality shows from Great Britain and surrounding areas running through a large time span.

Early History

Warrior Challenge Contestants live in the manner of warriors from different time periods and compete in challenges relevant to that time period. The different types of warriors are: Romans, Knights, Vikings, Gladiators.

4 episodes

Living in the Past 1978. A group of 15 volunteers, including 3 children live for a year in the way that a village in the 2nd century BCE would have. They have only the livestock, tools and crops that were available in that time frame and must use the cooking methods from that time frame.

12- 50 minute Episodes

Surviving the Iron Age 2002 17 people live as they would have 2500 years ago, including traditional roundhouses, surviving on goats milk and chickens. The record rainfall for the year made much of the time a true misery to the people participating.

7 episodes.

1600's

Tales from the Green Valley 2005. The show recreates a working farm from Wales in the 1620's with authentic clothing, equipment and recipes.

12 episodes

A Tudor Feast at Christmas 2006 A group of historians recreates an authentic Tudor feast at Christmas time. They sourced the food from the land and used historically accurate clothing and manner of preparation.

Tudor Monastery Farm 2013 A Continuation of the farm series going back further than they have before.

1800's

Regency House Party 2004 Set in the Regency time period (1811-1820). 5 men and 5 women (chaperoned by 4 older women) become singles in the Regency time era. They receive instruction in the courtship rituals of the time. They have identities ranging from aristocracy, to other members of the upper class, members climbing the middle classes as well as one ladies assistant.

8- 50 minute episodes (4 in the US version)

Victorian Farm 2009. Using historians, this show recreated the life on a small farm in Shropshire in the mid 1800's. The show used only authentic replicated equipment and authentic building and cooking techniques.

6- 60 minute episodes

A Victorian Farm Christmas 2012 The team from Victorian Farm returned to make a traditional Christmas meal from a Victorian farm.

Victorian Kitchen Garden In this show a derelict garden was restored to what it would have been in the Victorian period. Much time was taken to find actual plants that would have been used in the mid 1800's. Equipment from that time period was demonstrated as well.

13 episodes

Victorian Pharmacy Historians run a pharmacy and produce cures and medications as they would have been produced in the Victorian perios.

4 episodes

Set in the 1900s

Turn Back Time- The High Street 2010. 4 Families experience life on the high, or main street of a town during 6 different times. The four time periods are Victorian, Edwardian, 1930s, WWII, and 1970s.

6- 60 minute episodes

Turn Back Time- The Family Three families live in adjoining houses for a week at a time in the 1900s, the 1920s, 1939-45, the fourth episode has a black family living through the 1960s

1900 House 1999. Set in 1900. A family lives as if they were a family in 1900 in a house that has been renovated back to it's 1900 roots. They must use recipes, clothing and entertainment from that time era at all times.

4- 60 minute episodes

The Edwardian Country House (Manor House) 2002. Set 1905-1914. A family is given an identity as aristocrats in turn of the century Scotland. There were also 14 other people cast as servants in the house. They were all given a set of rules that followed the Edwardian conventions that they were to follow.

5- 50 minute Episodes (6 in the US version)

Edwardian Farm 2011. Set in the Edwardian time (1901- 1914 or so). A group of historians recreates the life on an Edwardian era farm.

12- 60 minute Episodes.

Coal House 2007 Set in 1927. Three families live in a 1927 Welsh village and work in the coal mines. They must live as they would have in 1927 in all aspects of life.

1940 House 2001. Set in the 1940s. A family must live as a family in the 1940s would have in a house outfitted like a house in that time era would have. They had to endure many aspects of live at that time such as nightly air raid alarms, sewing blackout curtains and rationing.

5-45 minute episodes.

Coal House at War 2008. Set in 1944. Again a family lives in a Welsh village and works in a coal mine. Now not only do the men have to endure 12-14 hour days, they must work in the Home guard. The women must keep the house as it would have been kept in 1944.

Wartime Farm 2012. Set during WWII. A team of historians run a farm as it would have been run during the second world war. They use equipment that would have been used in that time, and must preform tasks that farmers would have done, aside from farming, during the Second World War.

8 episodes plus a Christmas special.

That'll Teach Em Students are sent back to a 1950s school and are tested before and after to see how much they learned in the time period.

Electric Dreams 2009. Set in the 1970s. 80's and 90's. A family of 2 adults and 4 children must live with only things available in each of the 1970s, 1980's and 1990s for a period of 10 days each.

British Historical Reality Shows

Love Historical Fiction?

I used to think that I would like to be part of a historical fiction show. Then when I watched more of them, I saw the sheer amount of work it took to keep a household going and I began to rethink that desire. What about you?

Would you participate in a historical fiction show?

See results

Historical Reality Show Set in Australia and Area

1700's

The Ship: Retracing Cook's Endeavour Voyage 2002. Set in the 18th century. A modern crew must live and work on a ship during a 6 week voyage as they would have in the 18th century. They are allowed modern clothing, but the other aspects of the trip are as they would have been in the 1700's

6 episodes.

The Colony 2005. Set 1795-1815 Two modern families from Britain and Ireland try to survive the conditions they would have experienced in New South Wales when it was a Penal Colony.

1800's

Outback House 2005. Set in 1861. A family must live in the conditions that would have existed on an 1861 sheep station called Oxley Downs in New South Wales. The family starts as squatters, having taken over an abandoned property. They must manage the staff and daily life as it would have been done in 1861

8- 60 minute episodes through 2 seasons.

Current and Future History

There are a few shows that are much like the living history shows that I've mentioned above, and I thought that people would be interested in them as well.

Castaway 2000 36 men women and children attempt to create a self sustaining community from scratch. Unlike Survivor, the object was for the group to pull together and no one was ever voted off. The people also filmed themselves, so there were no cameramen with them.

Survivor This doesn't exactly fit in this category, but I figured that I would mention it. Two groups of people must both work together and against each other to be the last survivor and win the money. Some of the Survivor seasons had elements of history in them.

The Colony 2009. Set in the near future. 10 cast members must survive the simulated collapse of society due to a global epidemic.

2 seasons.

Kid Nation 2007. 40 children aged 8-15 try to set up a society without interference from adults.

Current and Future Historical Reality Shows

Historical Recreations set in Other Countries

These shows are set in other countries and are not in English

Schwarzwaldhaus 1902 A modern family was invited to live in the manner that they would have over 100 years ago in 1902 in a village in the Southern Black Forest. Set in Germany.

Le Moyen 1903 Made in Switzerland

Windstärke 8 - Das Auswandererschiff 1855 (Windstrength 8 - Immigration Ship of 1855) Set in Germany

Die Harte Schule der 50er Jahre (The Hard School of the 1950s) 24 teenagers are taken back to 1950s Germany.

What do you think of historical reality shows? Are they worth watching and interesting, or are they dull? Do you know of any more that I could add? Please let me know here.

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      JoshK47 4 years ago

      I can't say I've ever seen any of these - cool!