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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely
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...
Published on 12 Aug 2010 by S. Lindgren

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Pharmacy a partial view
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...
Published on 23 Nov 2010 by L. A. Camy


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, 12 Aug 2010
By 
S. Lindgren - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD] (DVD)
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. I should probably note there is some compromise in the production of authentic Victorian remedies, and the series has suffered some criticism because of this. However, while it would certainly have been amusing to watch Nick, Ruth or Tom whip up a genuine concoction containing opium, canabis, cocaine and arsenic, it would be ludicrous to suggest this should be done in a television series, let alone tried. The originals are acknowledged, which is perfectly sufficient, and (safe) contemporary equivalents substituted on that understanding. I certainly didn't find this materially detracted from the series, and I doubt the majority of viewers will either. My only slight criticism is that the series was so short; just four episodes. They could have got some more out of it, as, like the Victorian Farm, it was a quasi-experiment in living, if only to an extent, the life of a genuine Victorian Pharmasist and his team. Either way, it still gets a big vote of appreciation from me. I loved every minute and didn't hesitate for a moment in buying the DVD when I saw it come up for pre-order.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting and Absorbing, 12 Aug 2010
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD] (DVD)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts slowly, but improves. Enjoyable social history / infotainment, 27 Aug 2010
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD] (DVD)
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. Plus several of the experiments which the team undertake / endure are priceless; like getting the electrical stimulation contraption to work; sticking leeches onto a willing volunteer; making gunpowder for fireworks; creating a steam cabinet for the treatment of coughs, and so on. Although most of the remedies aren't suitable for replication at home, they're good fun to watch and sneakily educational. I especially enjoyed the segment about the earliest form of photography, and was amazed to see the 'photo' effectively being painted into existence. Fascinating.

Overall, then, this is a light-hearted and informative DVD which will guide you through nearly a century of social and scientific development, keying it into people's actual lives through the clever device of the high street chemist.
I'd be happy to watch the whole series a second time, and may well be giving it to a few friends for Christmas...
8/10
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Pharmacy a partial view, 23 Nov 2010
By 
L. A. Camy "Eastender" (London UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD] (DVD)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 26 Oct 2011
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This review is from: The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD] (DVD)
I nearly didn't watch this series as I've become a little overdosed with the Victorian age. Watching English history (let alone the rest of Britain) on TV you'd be forgiven for thinking the Tudors took over from the Romans and the Victorians from the Tudors. But this series takes a look into a fascinating untold side of the era. In following a 60 year period that spanned such great changes socially and scientifically it covers a lot of ground. Another reviewer here believes it's covered too quickly and not in enough depth. The reviewer is obviously well read on the subject and raises matters such as the failure to go into depth about the use and abuse of arsenic in the 19th century. Several (many?) people were convicted of murder on the basis of arsenic being found in corpses, completely ignoring the fact that Victorians' houses were full of the stuff. However, this programme was filmed in a working museum/tourist attraction where time really is money (appropriately enough for the Victorian age), and filming even a short series like this is a major disruption. But the series would have been so much the poorer for being studio based. So look on the series like a trip to Blists Hill itself, you'll enjoy the experience, learn something but you won't see raw sewage running in the streets, eat bread made with lead to cheat the Weights and Measures men, or have to step over the victims of Victorian crime. A whole era cannot be potted into a short TV series, but an enthusiasm to learn more can be, and is, prescribed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD], 23 Oct 2010
This review is from: The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD] (DVD)
I like so many people,i am only to happy to wander though living or social history museums and it is so often our heavy industrial past that is being celebrated and replicated. Steam locomotives,coal mines,wartime reenactments,Victorian or Edwardian fairground rides,even coal fired fish and chip shops. Somehow the team with an easy relaxed charm manage,with a little help from others,to engage a viewer such as myself and interest them in the history of The Victorian pharmacy. Locally made fireworks,until a change in the law due to an unfortunate number of pharmacists managing to blow up themselves and surrounding buildings. Friction matches,a demonstration of how carbolic acid was isolated from coal tar, silver coated pills for the wealthy and the expression on Ruth's face,up to her elbows in sheep's guts,all in the interests of the nations health.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great! Loved it!, 2 July 2014
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This review is from: The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD] (DVD)
I loved this DVD set! I like it even more than just for pure enjoyment knowing that with antibiotic resistence, we're headed back in that direction. Makes me appreciate, all the more, what we have while we have it but also gives hope that there will be a hope of sorts waiting in the wings...it also makes me more alert for snake oil!
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4.0 out of 5 stars very good, 7 Jun 2014
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If you liked the farm series which starred Ruth Goodman you will like this. A very interesting dvd and I certainly hope they do more of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Victorian Pharmacy', 19 April 2014
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As mentioned above this goes to the credit of Ruth Goodman who is the historian of these subjects, she researches these stories thoroughly and acts in them. She also offers her stories in book form as well as visual format and she chooses her 'actors' who are steeped in their subject matter. As I am now in my late 80s I find these items very interesting and can recommend these subjects to you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely series, 5 April 2014
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We loved watching this series. We are in the meantime collecting all of them as they are incredibly educational. Our home educated kids know a ton more about these times now than their school educated peers.
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