The British (2012) s01e06 Episode Script

Tale of Two Cities

NARRATOR: Over 2,000 years, they will forge a nation, dominate the globe and invent the modern world.
This is the story of how a small group of islands becomes a superpower.
The British.
This is our story.
1851, London.
In the reign of Queen Victoria, The Great Exhibition.
Six million visitors have come to see 100,000 exhibits, showcasing the British Empire at its height.
The Times says it would take 200 hours to see it all.
It was, ''Look at us.
''We're the coolest people on the planet.
'' It was symbolic of all the good things that we could possibly do, culturally.
It was a big pat on the back for the British public.
NARRATOR: The first nation to industrialise, Britain leads the world in manufacture, trade and engineering, but at a terrible human cost.
The Victorians must now face the challenges of filthy, overcrowded industrial cities.
Crime, poverty, disease and vice.
The Industrial Revolution is at the same time heaven and hell.
It is paradise and inferno.
NARRATOR: But The Great Exhibition reflects only the Empire's achievements.
Housed in a dazzling Crystal Palace, constructed with 290,000 panes of glass, it's six times bigger than Saint Paul's Cathedral, the size of ten football pitches.
jEREMY IRONS: There, in the middle of Hyde Park, this huge palace, this edifice was erected, which was filled with all the objects that we were proud of.
And it must've been quite magical, as Londoners weaved through this glass palace.
And, uh, marvelled at what was now possible.
NARRATOR: Behind the scenes at the Crystal Palace, George jennings, a Hampshire plumber, is about to unveil an innovation which will prove more popular than any of the exhibits.
One that he hopes will transform the stinking streets of Britain and the world.
GEORGE jENNINGS: The civilisation of a people can be measured by their domestic and sanitary appliances.
NARRATOR: For jennings, The Great Exhibition is the perfect opportunity to test his vision.
Until now, the few public toilets are filthy cesspits, and men relieve themselves in the foul streets.
With so many visitors expected to The Exhibition, The Times fears, ''The doors, porticos and railings ''of our squares and public buildings ''will become the receptacles of impurity.
'' But jennings thinks he has the answer.
PORTILLO: It's just so difficult for us to imagine that these Victorians, in their finery, so civilised, so beautifully presented, actually had to do their bodily functions in conditions that we would regard as absolutely appalling.
Vince, I think we're almost there.
PORTILLO: So when they come across a machine, a device that enables them to do those things in the civilised way that they must always have craved, of course it was the most popular exhibit.
NARRATOR: On May 1, 1851, at The Great Exhibition, George jennings opens Britain's first-ever public flushing loos.
Over five months, 800,000 customers queue, paying one penny for the privilege.
From this moment, the expression ''To spend a penny'' is said to enter the English language.
jennings' invention is a huge success.
Over the next decade, thousands of flushing loos are installed in the homes of the wealthy, inventing the modern bathroom.
jennings becomes Britain's first millionaire plumber.
Tell your friends, tell your family.
Please, spread the word.
ANTHONY HOROWITZ: British inventiveness has changed the world over and over again.
A hundred years later, millions and millions of people around the planet would use this device.
They wouldn't remember who invented it.
Without his genius, how very different the world would be.
(FLUSHING) NARRATOR: 1851, the year of The Exhibition, is also a tipping point in world history.
Britain is the first place on Earth where more people live not in the countryside, but in the cities.
London is the biggest and the richest of all.
The first modern megacity.
The population explodes from one to six-and-a-half million across the century.
Many newcomers end up in filthy, un-drained slums.
Now the flushing loos add to the city's problems.
Water usage doubles and sewage floods the ancient cesspits, breeding grounds for fatal disease.
Sarah Lewis, a young mother in the slums of Soho, London, struggling to survive in the overcrowded, industrialised city.
jULIET GARDINER: The Industrial Revolution had brought a massive influx of people into towns and cities.
And the infrastructure, the housing, sanitation, roads, all these things, were really very inadequate.
ADRIAN TINNISWOOD: Incredible squalor, back-to-back tenements, houses where 1 8 people are living in a single room, where there's no sanitation.
What you have is disease and squalor and pain.
NARRATOR: It's August 1854, and the city's sweltering.
(BABY CRYING) At 40 Broad Street, five-month-old baby Frances Lewis is dying.
In London slums, half of all babies die before their first birthday.
It is six years since cholera killed 14,000 in London.
Now, baby Frances is the first victim in a new outbreak.
Sarah has no idea that what she's about to do will kill over 600 people.
(SOBBING) Sarah and Tom Lewis' daughter, five-month-old baby Frances, has died of cholera.
(WAILING) In the first three days of the outbreak, 127 people die.
Within a week, three-quarters of the residents flee the neighbourhood.
By the end of the month, 616 people will be dead.
Cholera is the most feared disease in Britain since the Black Death, 500 years ago.
(GASPING) It's extremely horrific.
You feel terribly ill.
You have abdominal pains and you rapidly become dehydrated.
If you're a child, you die pretty quickly.
If you're an adult, you might survive a few days.
The Times describes this gruesome way to die.
''While the body is reduced to a damp, dead mass, ''the mind within remains untouched and clear, ''a spirit looking out in terror from a corpse.
'' Physician john Snow, son of a Yorkshire coal worker, dares to enter the heart of the outbreak.
Having witnessed the death of thousands in the previous epidemic, he's determined to find out how cholera spreads and stop the outbreak.
Snow has a theory that challenges centuries of medical thought.
He thinks the disease is spread through water.
It was very unclear to people how diseases spread.
One theory, the sort of miasma theory, is that there was kind of bad air.
And obviously, you could smell it in some respects, but a kind of bad air and that, that was how things spread.
And, of course, one of the points about that was it was very difficult to do anything about that.
So, the miasma theory was in part also an excuse for not doing very much.
NARRATOR: Snow wants to convince medical officials of his belief.
Please, understand.
It's this pump It is the water that's making people sick.
(INAUDIBLE) Again and again, the history of medicine is full of examples like that.
Where somebody comes up with a brilliant idea, which is pooh-poohed by the experts.
And, of course, nobody wanted to believe him.
Very brave.
Good day, ma'am.
Dr John Snow.
NARRATOR: Snow begins an investigation.
He did, yes.
SNOW: I requested to take the list of deaths from cholera and make an enquiry respecting the 83 deaths having taken place in the last three days of the week.
I understand you have a baby that died.
NARRATOR: Painstakingly gathering evidence, Snow wants to prove there's a link between the victims.
He's looking for a pattern to emerge.
At the Eley Brothers' Munitions Factory, where the workers drink water drawn from the pump, 18 die of cholera within a week.
But at the brewery just across the road, there is not one casualty.
Snow realises they all drink either the beer they make or water from their own well.
SNOW: I found that nearly all the deaths had taken place within a short distance to the Broad Street pump.
NARRATOR: But there is once case that doesn't fit this pattern.
A woman called Susannah Eley has died of cholera in Hampstead, four miles from Soho.
Her name, Eley, is one he's seen before.
-Mr Eley? -Yes.
Dr john Snow.
I'm sorry to disturb you.
Susannah Eley, do you know her? Yes, she was my mother.
NARRATOR: The Hampstead victim, preferring the taste of the water in Soho, had her dutiful sons deliver it to her at home.
It's not airborne, as people believe.
NARRATOR: Snow now proves conclusively that all the victims drank from the Broad Street pump.
just one drop of water can contain enough cholera bacteria to kill you in hours.
Sarah Lewis unwittingly caused the outbreak by pouring the contaminated water from her baby's soiled clothes into the cesspool.
The sewage had leaked into the Broad Street well, and into the drinking water of her family and neighbours, even infecting her own husband, Tom Lewis.
-(SOBBING) -(GROANING) NARRATOR: Eight days after the outbreak begins, Snow finally persuades the parish council to take the handle off the pump.
It stops the outbreak dead in its tracks.
WINSTON: It was a mixture of intuition and solid population statistics.
I mean, it's one of the great discoveries of medicine.
He saved thousands of lives.
It's one of the earliest examples of public health, an area which, of course, Britain can be rather proud of, because we've led in public health research.
NARRATOR: As a very British testament to Snow's work, he still has a pub in Soho named after him.
Four years after John Snow's breakthrough, Britain begins the most radical cleanup in our history.
London's sewers, masterminded by engineer joseph Bazalgette, use 380 million bricks and take 1 6 years to complete, stretching 1,300 miles under the city.
Bazalgette's design is visionary.
The egg-shaped tunnels allow sewage not to stick to the sides.
It's still used today, and is the model for sewers built all over Britain.
Britain never suffers a cholera epidemic again.
The importance of clean drinking water is now recognised.
Reservoirs are built all over the country.
In 1881, the first stone damn is built in Powys to supply Liverpool.
Pure, uncontaminated water is available for all.
If you're looking at the 1 9th century, you can see improvement, and there definitely is improvement.
(RETCHING) On the other hand, you can also see terrible continuing problems.
There is an anxiety that the poor and particularly the underclass are just on the edge of almost pulling everything down.
NARRATOR: One-third of London's inhabitants live without sufficient food or shelter.
Thousands of destitute street children fend for themselves.
VENDOR: Fresh fruits and veg! NARRATOR: Amongst them is 13-year-old Samuel Holmes, a runaway from London's East End.
Oi! Oi! NARRATOR: His prospects are the workhouse, little more than a prison for the poor, or a life of crime.
Wait, stop! Wait! Come back here! Somebody get him.
(PRISONERS CHATTERING) NARRATOR: A prison ship moored on the Thames.
This is 13-year-old Samuel Holmes' fifth sentence.
Boys like Samuel are seen as a terrifying new problem caused by the rise of the megacity.
The growing industrial city is a very different kind of place.
It's huge, it's bustling, it's anonymous and such are the conditions of poverty, the levels of unemployment, the lack of economic opportunity when you get to the city, that there's the basis for the emergence of a huge criminal underclass.
NARRATOR: Magistrate William Miles is writing a government report on crime and punishment.
What's your name? Can I talk to you? Samuel Holmes.
NARRATOR: He learns from the boy that he can't read or write.
He's abused by his violent, drunken father and has run away to join a gang.
Is that all you've got? HOLMES: I'll tell you how I manage.
Two boys took me to a house in Stepney, kept by a man who agreed to board and lodge me, provided I sold to him all that I might steal.
Do it.
Try harder.
HOLMES: I was about a fortnight in training, and afterwards went out to assist the boys where they picked pockets.
Try harder.
NARRATOR: Like the majority of wealthy Victorians, Miles doesn't pity this neglected underclass.
Instead, he sees them as a dangerous threat to society.
Never knew my mum.
MILES: I cannot but arrive at the melancholy conclusion that thieves are incorrigible.
The knee-jerk response of the Victorian authorities is to get tough, to crack down.
So they create a new police force, and they use that police force to grab people, to haul them before the courts and to impose severe penalties.
Hanging is widespread, transportation to the Colonies, imprisonment.
In other words, it's an attempt to deal with the crime problem by suppressing it.
NARRATOR: Never allowed on dry land, boys are imprisoned with 400 others for up to five years.
BOYS: (CHANTING) Fight! Fight! Repeat offenders like Samuel are transported to Tasmania, to the Empire's first juvenile prison.
By the end of the 19th century, over 160,000 British convicts are deported to Australia.
15,000 are children under 1 6.
But this harsh treatment creates a huge debate.
Based on the real lives of boys like Samuel, Britain's most celebrated novelist, Charles Dickens, writes about the city's underclass.
At a time when they're barely considered human, Dickens creates sympathetic heroes from the poor and the abandoned in novels like Oliver Twist, offering the public a more compassionate perspective.
ROSE: Even if he has been wicked, think how young he is.
Think that he may have never know a mother's love or the comfort of a home, and that may have driven him to guilt.
For mercy's sake, think of this before you drag this sick child to a prison.
Occasionally, once in a while, a person comes along who is absolutely in the right place at the right time.
And Dickens, with his incredible abilities to tell a great story and at the same time serve such an amazing social function in revealing to the upper middle classes what was happening under their noses.
Dickens wants to reach into people's hearts and make them feel differently, and then act on that.
He wanted to make you cry, and then go out and vote, or form a charity or change your opinion about the way that people lived in this country.
There's a growing sense that tough measures aren't a long-term solution.
A growing number of Victorians think the solution is social reform, to deal with the social problems and make the cities decent places to live for ordinary people.
NARRATOR: One such pioneering reformer is Josephine Butler, a fearless campaigner for women's rights.
BUTLER: Licentiousness is blasting the souls and bodies of thousands of women, through the guilt of the men of the upper and educated classes.
The most galling tyranny of the strong over the weak.
NARRATOR: Breaking all the taboos of her time, this upper-class lady speaks out on the behalf of the worst-off in Victorian society.
The energy and ingenuity of josephine Butler, you can still feel it today, 100 years later.
She was such a passionate speaker that she once made a policeman who was on stage with her cry describing the plight of prostitutes.
She was an amazing woman.
NARRATOR: Butler enters crime-ridden slums to challenge a form of exploitation common in Victorian cities.
Child prostitution.
Because venereal disease was rife, there was this insistence amongst many men who went to prostitutes that they should be virgins.
That's why there was this terrible trade in young girls, as young as 12 or 13.
NARRATOR: Spring 1885.
Butler wants to expose what's happening.
She turns to William Stead, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, one of the most influential papers in London.
She wants to use the growing power of the press to change public opinion.
England has 150 daily newspapers.
80% of the population can read.
For the British working man, the newspaper is the chief vehicle of knowledge.
Butler and Stead's aim is to shock the nation and raise the legal age of consent, currently at 13.
STEAD: If the daughters of the people must be served up as dainty morsels to minister to the passions of the rich, let them at least attain an age where they can understand the nature of the sacrifice which they're asked to make.
NARRATOR: On July 6, 1885, newspaper editor William Stead publishes a shocking story in the Pall Mall Gazette.
STEAD: I can personally vouch for the absolute accuracy of every fact in the narrative.
NARRATOR: To get his story, Stead seeks out reformed prostitute Rebecca jarrett.
josephine Butler had rescued her from a life of alcoholism and vice.
Stead persuades Jarrett to go undercover to help him to expose how easy it is for a rich man to buy the virginity of a penniless child.
(CHUCKLES) You like what you see? NARRATOR: Gathering evidence for the sting, Jarrett poses as a buyer for a wealthy man.
Can I get you a drink? STEAD: While the negotiations were going on, a drunken neighbour came into the house.
So little concealment was then used that she speedily became aware of the nature of the transaction.
Don't you think she would take our Lily? She must be pure.
Of course.
STEAD: Lily was her own daughter, a bright, fresh-looking little girl who was 1 3 years old.
-What's your name, love? -Lily.
NARRATOR: Lily Armstrong is bought for five pounds.
STEAD: The child was absolutely ignorant of the nature of the transaction.
NARRATOR: For the newspaper article, Jarrett now has to carry out the next stage of the deception.
She takes Lily to another brothel where, despite her age, she's admitted without question.
Her virginity has been checked.
She's made ready for the purchaser.
Don't forget to say your prayers, all right? Good night.
STEAD: Then the woman withdrew.
All was quiet and still.
A few moments later, the door opened, and the purchaser entered the bedroom.
There was a brief silence, and then there rose a wild and piteous cry.
(LILY SCREAMS) NARRATOR: There is no purchaser, only newspaperman Stead.
He has proved that child prostitution really does go unchallenged.
Accounts vary about what happened, but Lily comes to no harm.
Nevertheless, Stead's tactics prove controversial.
All the latest shocking news! Come read all about it! NARRATOR: July 1885.
Read all about it.
Stead's article, ''The Maiden Tribute to Modern Babylon'" is published.
So scandalous, it is banned from WH Smith.
The day's edition sells out in hours.
The Gazette's offices are even attacked by news vendors, desperate to get more copies.
It was the first big, I suppose you could say, tabloid expose.
The first piece of serious investigative Victorian journalism.
NARRATOR: But Stead's actions are punished.
He is convicted for abducting the girl unlawfully and is jailed for three months.
Rebecca jarrett is also locked up for six months for her part in the sting.
Josephine Butler escapes prosecution.
But they are victorious.
There is a national outcry.
Thousands march in protest and force Parliament to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16.
Newspapers can reflect back to a country what it's like.
When it works well, the country may actually look at itself in the mirror and go, ''I need to change that.
'' And in this case,josephine Butler knew that she had an amazing story.
One that people would want to read, that would outrage them and make them want to change the country.
DAVID PUTTNAM: The Victorian conscience is a really, really interesting thing, because along with unknown wealth came this realisation that things were not equal.
At the bottom, there was this very, very large underclass without opportunity.
The Victorians worked out that the way to run a society to both help yourself and to make it a better society, and the two were closely linked, was to take a major role, yourself.
The wealthy, those who were comfortably off, should be active on behalf of the others.
And therefore you get across Victorian society the most remarkable number of institutions dedicated to improvement.
NARRATOR: Ragged schools give free education to 300,000 destitute children, the Salvation Army provides food and shelter for the poor and the temperance movements tackle alcoholism in working-class families.
Society was beginning to think that it needed to have a collective responsibility for those of its members who were not able to take care of themselves.
So this rather patrician attitude of benevolence, really, towards people is a very strong Victorian virtue, and I think runs like a true thread through the British nation.
Through perhaps even the British character.
NARRATOR: By 1900, there are 22,000 charities in Britain.
Many still exist today.
I was taken in by Barnardo's at the age of zero.
And, really, without the organisation, I'm You know.
It's difficult to imagine where I'd be today.
I don't think that I would've risen through, you know, to the (LAUGHS) To the heights I've achieved.
NARRATOR: By the end of the 19th century, great new civic buildings are erected in cities nationwide.
There are 300 public libraries, 20,000 schools, 200 public baths, 200 museums offering knowledge to the masses.
FAULKNER: The urban landscape is now changing for the better.
There are areas of slum clearance, and where there had been congestion and overcrowding, open spaces, green spaces, parks are now being created.
And leisure is becoming part of working people's experience.
We have an explosion of leisure activities.
A real leisure revolution.
(PEOPLE SCREAMING) NARRATOR: The working week becomes regulated.
Workers get Saturday afternoons off and their first bank holidays.
With higher earnings and the growth of the railways, seaside holidays become popular.
There is sport on Saturdays.
Over 500 football clubs open that are still running today.
In 1878, at Bramall Lane football pitch in Sheffield, there are plans afoot to extend leisure time even further.
Entrepreneur John Tasker wants to demonstrate a new technology that will turn night into day.
Tasker wants to prove that electric lighting is the future for all.
Good, good.
NARRATOR: A safe, clean and a far more powerful alternative to gas.
He has erected four arc lamps around the pitch, previously used in lighthouses.
(PEOPLE CHATTERING) 20,000 people have gathered to see Tasker's illuminator at work.
(BOY LAUGHING) (MEN WHOOPING) Hundreds even jump the wall to get in for free.
FRANK LAMPARD: It's an amazing story.
To think of the invention of it, you know, the forward-thinking.
All the things that probably could've gone wrong to try and create the first floodlit match, when nobody had heard of it.
It would've been crazy.
I mean, football, when you look back through generations how much it's changed, and that would've been such a pivotal moment.
NARRATOR: Tasker has set up a steam engine to power a dynamo, generating electricity for the four arc lamps to illuminate the pitch.
This is a bold new use of the technology.
(CROWD CHEERING) Football has to be played in daylight, until now.
(BLOWS WHISTLE) (CROWD CHEERING) The artificial illumination is equivalent to 8,000 candles.
But there is a problem.
It's just too bright to see.
The Sheffield Telegraph reports, ''Many of the ladies, once within the rays, shot up umbrellas, ''as they would parasols to shield them from the sun at midday.
'' The players are dazzled.
Tasker adjusts the strength of the lights.
(CROWD CHEERING) Tasker's gamble is a huge success.
Everyone is delighted.
(LAUGHING) It must've been quite scary for them, initially.
But in the same breath, so exciting for them because it's going to change the whole way that sport is going to be played.
It just extends the opportunity to play sport.
NARRATOR: Tasker goes on to build Sheffield's first power station and electricity network.
(CROWD CHEERING) We are at the original nation of entrepreneurs.
We are the original nation of invertors.
We've done it for so long and we do it so naturally, I think we've got it in our DNA.
And I think it's one of the things that we should be the most proud of because it's entrepreneurship that can transform a society.
It can transform a nation.
NARRATOR: Electricity will change Britain forever.
Dim gas lamps are replaced with bright electric lighting.
In 1879, Newcastle sees the first street illuminated.
Godalming in Surrey becomes the first town to be electrified in 1881.
Cities transform from dark, grimy, sooty places to light, clean, safer environments.
Houses are illuminated by the flick of a switch.
The nation is lit up.
Victorians confront the problems of industrialisation and the problems of urbanisation, and in confronting those problems, which are urgent problems, they have to produce solutions.
And those solutions help to create the modern world.
NARRATOR: By the end of Victoria's reign, Britain is transformed.
Tackling public health, sanitation, poverty and crime, the late 19th century sees the birth of the modern city and a new model for society.
The blueprint for urban living.
In the next century, Britain's Empire will wane.
Two world wars will shatter the country.
But from the carnage and struggle, a new nation will be forged.
-We did it! -(PEOPLE CHEERING)