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Turn Back Time: The High Street [DVD] 
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The High Street was once the heart and soul of every town in Britain. Not anymore. But what if we could turn back time, to the days of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker? The story of the rise and fall of the great British high street is brought to life in an entertaining and ambitious new series that transports four empty shops and a group of modern shopkeepers and their families back to the birth of the high street in the 1870s, before propelling them through a century of dizzying change, right up to the 1970s. Over six hours of gripping television, the families lives are turned upside down as they experience how shopkeepers lived and worked in six key eras of British history. But this High Street is no museum. The shops must serve modern day customers who are used to the pace and convenience of 21st century shopping. In a challenge laced with real-life entertainment, family drama and human endeavour, can the families deal with whatever history throws at them? And can they lure shoppers back?
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Top customer reviews
Unfortunately, the makers tried to cram too much into this programme, and in consequence it was shallow and gave no real understanding of any trade or any period. There are several kinds of shops represented in several periods... the result is a blur.
Shortly before watching this series, I'd watched The Victorian Pharmacy with Ruth Goodman, which followed one trade in one shop in one period, and devoted several DVDs it. This gave gave me a real understanding of pharmacies, pharmacists, medicines and patients/customers in the Victorian era. When I watched The High Street, the contrast was painful. It was so rushed and shallow.
To make matters worse, the makers of these films didn't even stick to one time level in each programme. Instead, they made the participants act out several years in one week, and at the same time act out the week - something even a science fiction movie wouldn't attempt. For example, one day the baker accepted an order for a decorated wedding cake, and the men marched off to fight in the First World War. A few days later, the war had ended and the men came back... and they were making the wedding cake that had been ordered. Huh? Four years to make a wedding cake?
Also, the programme lacks all realism. For example, the shopkeepers had to prove that they could make profits, and competed against each other in this. But since some arrived to well-stocked shops with valuable goods ready to sale, while others had to buy the ingredients in order to have something to sell, some this was an uneven 'contest'.
The programme makers clearly couldn't decide if they wanted reality TV, a contest, a documentary, a renactment, or what. It's all mixed up, and not in a coherent way.
I recommend the history DVDs with Ruth Goodman and her team instead. Those focus on a particular subject and a particular period, and provide real information, practical experiments and historical reenactments in a convincing manner