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The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD]

31 customer reviews

Price: £8.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: 11 Oct. 2010
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003U6PIHQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,854 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

From the makers of Victorian Farm. In a unique experiment historian Ruth Goodman, Professor of Pharmacy Nick Barber and PhD student Tom Quick open the doors to an authentic Victorian Pharmacy. They recreate the birth and evolution of a high street institution we take for granted, but which was once a novel idea. They source ingredients, mix potions and dispense cures. But in an age when skin creams contained arsenic and cold medicines were based on opium, the team need to be highly selective. An age of social change is revealed. The Victorians brought healthcare within the reach of ordinary people for the very first time, and heralded a consumer revolution that reached far beyond medicine to create the model for the modern high street chemist as we know it today

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By S. Lindgren VINE VOICE on 12 Aug. 2010
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For some reason, I found this not just an interesting and informative, but a curiously touching little series. I'm writing this well before the DVD is released (though with a pre-order firmly placed), so my remarks are concerned with the series itself rather than the content of the forthcoming DVD.

Charting the development of the Pharmacy over the 6 decades of Victoria's regin, I found this series to give a fascinating insight into how such businesses developed from hebalists through to a high-technology and businesslike enterprise that would in principle be familiar to us today. Overall, the presentation of this series is immaculate. Ruth Goodman will be familiar to anyone who watched the preceeding Victorian Farm series, while Professor Nick Barber & (I assume his) PhD student, Tom Quick both share her relaxed presentation and sympathy with the camera / viewer. The other presenters, with their own areas of expertise, were all worthy support too, and should be commended for their considerable contributions.

With each episode an hour long, the pacing is well controlled, and the production team were clearly experienced, and with a flare for detail and artistic touches. The shop was beautiful, as might be expected from Blists Hill Victorian Town, and all of the contents authenic enough to create a genuine atmosphere and flavour of the time. Many of the products concocted were extremely interesting if you enjoy some simple chemestry. The production of tonic waters, matches, a brief review of 19th century dental techniques and a delightful firework display were particular highlights for me, but really, everything was immensely enjoyable and interesting viewing.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Aug. 2010
This series which has been appearing on BBC2 is of interest to anyone who is into medical and social history. We all go into our local pharmacy for prescriptions and a whole range of medicaments, etc. With such large chains such as Boots there are even more products on sale. But how did the chemist shop that we know today first come into existence?

Taking us back in time Ruth Goodman, Professor Nick Barber, and Tom Quick, with the assistance of others show us how the pharmacist as we know today came about. From selling poisons, herbal remedies and making their own concotions, the pharmacist was always trying to stay ahead of the competition. Without today's understanding of disease, as things became better known so they were incorporated. From being a place that was dangerous, things improved as exams and regulations were brought in. Not only were these places that sold homemade and mass produced products, but where dentistry, firework making and photography came into wider use.

There is a book to accompany this series, Victorian Pharmacy Remedies and Recipes, which some may find ideal for further information. I, like others have found this series to be of immense interest, and if you are studying the period this may be of use.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 27 Aug. 2010
This is a charming short BBC series from the same stable as the Victorian Farm series. Inevitably it will be compared to the Farm, and it's not quite in the same league. A pharmacy is a rather less accessible subject -- it's not so involving -- and without the natural calendar of a farming year, this series feels a little forced and artificial.
The first programme in particular was difficult to get in to, because it starts at the very earliest years of Victoria's reign when pharmacy was a mix between quackery, witchcraft and guesswork. The lotions and potions mainly did more harm than good, so it was hard for 'the team' of historian Ruth, postgrad student Tom and proper Prof Nick to make much headway. They kept having to substitute non-lethal ingredients for potential cures before handing them to optimistic volunteers (the point of the little experiments escaped me, unless it was to demonstrate that placebos can have a huge effect!).
However, after the first episode is over then the programmes become increasingly interesting. The show how natural cures and chemical science combined to develop many of our modern medicines. I particularly enjoyed the sequences in the lab, where a genuine chemist spent many hours isolating an active ingredient from raw materials in order for the phamacist to then blend it into a pill, tablet or (yikes) pessary. Seeing how such items were made by hand was interesting too, and watching Ruth make condoms from intestines was priceless!
Indeed, Ruth Goodman on her own is a compelling reason to watch this DVD, because the enthusiasm she brings to any historical subject is involving, and makes for great TV.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. A. Camy on 23 Nov. 2010
Like Dani who wrote a highly critical I felt there were places where the programmes lacked depth but not being the expert he/she is I was not sure where I was being "cheated". The programme that particularly interested me was where the examinations were introduced as my great grandfather was in the first group to pass them. This I had known for years what I had not realised was the rigour and breadth of the exams and the range of experts that are now required to pass an exam which one person took.

Where I disagree with Dani (I am really not picking on him/her it is that the review was so lively and strongly argued) is that I thought that the main thrust of the series was to put forward the idea (and this has been true of a number of recent series that include a Victorian element ) that in a age when there were few or no chain stores to support each other, it was all down to the individual and the profit motive was everything. People fought tooth and nail get an edge over the rivals witness Bird's custard who stopped being a pharmacist. It seemed to me that the Professor was especially good at portraying this element and would have been rather successful had he lived then.

To conclude I thought the series main aims were to strip away the idea that the Victorian Age was some idyllic dreamworld of silk gowns, handsome, dashing young men and decadent aristocrats and show it as a tough, ruthless, precarious and dangerous world. They succeeded with the first two, a partial success with the third and failed with the fourth. A last thought I loved the mad chemistry professor locked away in his laboratory.There is a series of some description just begging to be made using him as the front man
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