Victorian Bakers, episode 2

Looking forward to watching another episode of this series.
I will be commenting on episode 2 as I watch it.

The year is 1870 and our bakers are moving from the country to the city.
This episode will be filmed at the excellent Black Country Living Museum, a location that has been used for many shows and a place I’d gladly go and live permanently.

Again the costumes look very good.
Turns out, John Foster was even given fake sideburns by the production team!
Looks good on him too.

The bakers are going to work through the night, nothing new for most bakers.
But for a tv production it is quite an interesting challenge.
Not only do they have to deal with Health & Safety but they also have to get permission to film when the museum is closed.

Here is when I spot the first real mistake of the show.
The bakery is clearly lit by electric light, a problem we see in many of these types of shows.
I understand that the crew wants to be sure that we see what is happening and they are always a bit scared they end up with just a dark screen.
But in 1870 there simply was no electrical light to speak of and the bakery is just lit too brightly.
They should have used a couple of little lights, perhaps camouflaged as candles in lanterns or oil lamps.
Or they should have just been brave and used actual Victorian light sources.
But maybe this is where Health & Safety stepped in and ruined the authenticity for us, demanding the electrical light to be used.
Either way, it is a shame, the bakery at night is just too well lit.
It is difficult for us to imagine how it must have looked and what kind of workplace it would have been in reality.

I know kneading dough is a heavy, tiresome job.
But I love it, it is so traditional, ancient.
And you can imagine how strong these bakers must have been.

The kneading with feet is fun to see, but poor old trough!
The museum employees must have watched that scene in horror.

The bakers must have longed back to their years in the country.

Nice to see them all sleeping on the floor, something so common for our ancestors, yet unimaginable for most modern people.
However I think that bakers probably had more bags of flour to use as beds than our participants had.

Interesting to learn that bakers had it worse than many other people back then and how big the impact of being a baker had on their health.

I love taking  a look at the slum where the baker may have lived with his family.
And still, that one room apartment was better than quite a few I’ve seen.

I’ve already mentioned it, but the light is really bothering me.
It is ruining the historical atmosphere.
It is not just a bright light, but very bright, lighting the entire bakery.
And such a shame it is not mentioned, I think the presenters should at least brought it up and explained to the viewers that the things we’re watching now would have been happening in a much darker bakery, because a common use of electrical light was still years away.
Now those of us in the know have to imagine this and other viewers are just believing bakeries were brightly lit or don’t even realise it.

There are ways to work around this and ‘fool’ the viewer by using several little light sources in stead of one, using filters or using lamps that have the colour and intensity of moon light, with a hint of blue cold light.
By placing these in the right location or by putting one on the ceiling with a raster in front of it, you can pretend that you are actually working with nothing but the bright moon light.

I love the bread delivery scene, I miss that in our modern life, baker’ boys walking down streets every morning with freshly baked bread, delivering to your front door.
That carriage is stunning.

18 hours of work for junior bakers, take that modern spoiled moaning modern people who are complaining about having too work too much today.
Most of us wouldn’t last a week.
I love it when shows like these make us realise how lucky we are.

The show also shows how rotten the capitalist system is, demand for bread was so high that while there were rules and laws on how long someone was allowed to work, bakers were left out and their demands ignored.
There were so many willing workers to take their places that these totally unhealthy and unfair working conditions were maintained.
No wonder indeed that most bakers spend their spare free hours drinking down the local pub.
This is the kind of information that needs the historical background this show gives but many other Historical Reality shows leave out or barely mention.

I love that they also mention the adulteration of the flour and how sadistic (yet wonderful) to make these proud and honest bakers take part in doing something like that.
This must really hurt.
Adulteration was a terrible and even dangerous practice.
Making bread with chalk… I wonder how it tastes.
I’d try it.

They work so hard, they are now actually breaking the UK law on how hard you’re allowed to work in a modern bakery.

Things are getting out of hand, I am almost falling in love with baker Swift who is willing to risk his health because he wants to know what his ancestors went through.
I can so relate to that and I admire his foolishness.
Go for it, even if it kills you.

The reason I came here was to see what my family did.
If this is what they did, then who am I not to do it?

Hear hear Mr. Swift.
And yes, Mr. Foster, that would look wonderful on this gravestone.
Such drama and it is about wanting to be too authentic in stead of not being able to deal with authenticity.

This scene is stunning and wonderful, it brings tears to my eyes.
Such dedication, I love these guys.

Big butch baker’s sweat in your dough is something I reckon some people would pay extra for…

Time for some educational, how to make carbonised bread.
Interesting but it does drag us out of the show we’re watching, I am not too keen on this.
I know it would be impossible to show this at the museum, but all I’m thinking about is getting back to our lovely bakers as soon as possible.

Another adulterate, this time potassium sulphate… which can cause brain damage!
But not immediately, so it doesn’t really matter.
I love how upset and even angry the bakers get at this.
I’d be so happy if one of them was my baker.

I’d love to taste the bread they are making, even the bad and unhealthy ones.
Would be nice to have bread like this, with or without health warnings, being sold in a museum.

Always nice to see the presenters dressed in period costume.
They always look so much better than they do in modern clothes.

I love a little moment spend on showing us Victorian photography.
The result of wet plate photography is stunning, very well done by historical photographer Tony Richards.

Nice to see how the bakers are learning so much from their experience and appreciating the progress so much.

Shame the music band is a bit modern.






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