Author and broadcaster Amanda Vickery returns to Radio 4 for the second series of the acclaimed ‘Voices from the Old Bailey’. Starting today at 9am (repeated again tonight at 9.30pm), Amanda Vickery, whose Yale book Behind Closed Doors was adapted for TV last year, presents dramatised extracts from gripping Old Bailey court cases from the 18th century and discusses with fellow historians what they reveal about the period.
In recent years Amanda Vickery has made a name for herself as one of the country’s leading authorities on Georgian history. As an author she has won the Longman-History Today Prize for The Gentleman’s Daughter, which offers insight into the intimate and everyday lives of genteel women of the Georgian period. Her more recent book Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England received universal praise by critics, and has since been adapted into the television show At Home with the Georgians, which aired on BBC last year
Now Vickery returns to the airwaves for the second series of Voices from the Old Bailey (see below for the full episode schedule) in which she explores the culture of 18th century Britain through its dramatic court cases. In the first episode, entitled ‘Riots’, Vickery hears evidence from 3 bloody riots. Ordinary Londoners caught up in violence on the streets tell their story, and rioters argue their case in court, desperately attempting to avoid the noose.
About Episode one
The 3 riots span the 18th century and reveal huge political change: we move from a group of sailors destroying a brothel in a drunken rampage to the first modern political riot, the ‘Wilkes and Liberty’ riot. Finally we hear evidence from the anti-Catholic Gordon riots, the worst episode of civil unrest in British history. The whole of central London was garrisoned with mounted troops, who shot to kill. Professor Vickery reveals that left-wing historians of the 70s and 80s ignored the Gordon Riots because they didn’t fit their ideological model of the noble rioter. Three contributors discuss the court cases: Professor Peter King, Dr Katrina Navickas and Professor Tim Hitchcock, co-founder of the online archive, Old Bailey Online. With a ballad about a food riot sung by Gwyneth Herbert and Thomas Guthrie; recorded on location in the oldest pub in London, the Guinea in Mayfair, and with a visit to a Catholic chapel which was attacked in the Gordon Riots.
Part 1. Riots, 27th July 9am/9.30pm
Part 2. Sexual Subcultures, 3rd August 9am/9.30pm
Part 3. Servants, 10th August 9am/9.30pm
Part 4. Whose Law Was it Anyway?, 17th August 9am/9.30pm
Visit the BBC Website for more on this new series.
In this blog article Amanada Vickery reveals how Criminal Court transcripts can provide a uniquely personal insight into the relationships and attitudes of the ‘unlettered and unsung’ inhabitants of Georgian society