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A House Through Time heads to Bristol

21st May 2020

Categories: Latest News

BBC Two’s A House Through Time – the story of those who lived in one house, from the time it was built until now – has captivated viewers with its first two series. Covering Newcastle and Liverpool, it has told the story of a house as well as a place and a city. The new series, beginning on Tuesday 26 May, sees presenter David Olusoga set out to uncover the story of a Bristol house, discovering remarkable stories along the way.  The production was heavily supported by Bristol Film Office and Bristol Archives.

House Through Time

Image: David Olusoga, presenter of A House Through Time, outside No. 10 Guinea Street with owners Karen Drake and David Drake CREDIT: BBC/TWENTY TWENTY LTD./MARK BOURDILLON

Producers have promised that the show, which will feature No.10 Guinea Street in Redcliffe, will be ‘very Bristol’, covering everything from the tobacco industry to piracy, and from slavery to the Bristol Blitz.

“One of the challenges about bringing A House Through Time to Bristol is that Bristol is very different to the two cities we’ve done previously - Newcastle and Liverpool - both of which had their heyday in the 19th century,” says historian David Olusoga, who has been a resident of the city for more than 20 years. “They both largely rose to prominence in the Victorian age. Now that’s not true for Bristol whose heyday as a trading city was in the Georgian era. So we felt it was really important that if we were going to bring A House Through Time to Bristol, we find an 18th century house. Once we made that decision to go back beyond the middle of the 19th century we knew that it also meant going back beyond the census and lots of the other sources that we rely on to make A House Through Time. So it was a real challenge. But the house we found is extraordinary and the story of Bristol we are able to tell through it is incredibly rich and varied.” 

The four-part series was supported by Bristol Archives and features a host of historic material, from maps and land tax records to court documents and asylum casebooks, as well as photos and film. Bristol Film Office liaised with the production team closely to arrange recces, filming permits and access to locations including the Registry Office, Central Library, A Bond Warehouse and the Lord Mayor’s Chapel.

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol, said:
“I’m delighted that A House Through Time will highlight the wealth of important historic collections at Bristol Archives. So many sources can reveal the remarkable history of a house and its residents and the archives team are looking forward to helping people who are inspired to start their own research. Bristol Film Office played a key role in helping the producers prepare for the shoot and ensuring filming ran smoothly. They also helped to protect the identity of the chosen house when many were keen to discover which property would feature! This promises to be a fascinating series that will track Bristol’s changing history throughout the centuries. It will surely captivate and enlighten viewers in Bristol and beyond.”

Production Manager Zarina Dick said: “We worked extensively with Janine and colleagues at the Bristol Film Office on the forthcoming production of A House Through Time. They were hugely helpful in facilitating both locations and permits, sometimes at very short notice.”

There are lots of ways that people can engage with the TV series:

  • The first episode of the series will be screened on the BBC at 9pm on Tuesday 26 May. David will be tweeting during the episode, sharing further insights and archival material. Follow him at @DavidOlusoga

  • Festival of Ideas is hosting an online conversation with producer and presenter David Olusoga the day after the first episode is released. How is the house chosen? What do the findings say about the cities and how they have changed over time? And what do they tell us about the houses and places of the future? It also covers David’s new book, written with Melanie Backe-Hansen, A House Through Time (Picador, May 2020). The conversation will be broadcast on Wednesday 27 May at 13:00 and then available online. Visit www.ideasfestival.co.uk/events and @festivalofideas for more details.

  • Bristol Archives are creating a number of resources to help people research their home’s history and will be hosting a free online talk to help people get started on Wednesday 10 June at 17:00. Visit www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-archives. They are also taking part in #HouseHistoryHour on Twitter every Thursday at 7pm, for tips, insights and case studies from the UK’s archives and researchers.

A House Through Time begins Tuesday 26 May on BBC Two at 9pm.

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