Friday, 19 February 2016
342 Living In The Past
First viewed : Early 1978
This was not something I watched by choice. In the spring term of my second and final year at St Wilfrids School, the shorter of the two "Art " periods ( Thursday afternoons if I recall correctly ) was taken up instead by a lesson with deputy head Frank Randle. Randle was a cantankerous martinet with no sense of humour but these lessons did show a mellower side of him. They were sometimes described as "Logic" but were in fact pretty free form i.e he'd talk about anything that interested him at the time. However in the term my group had him he didn't do much talking , just slipped in a VHS tape ( rare at the time ) of this , recorded from the TV. I never found it very interesting but it was an undemanding lesson.
Nevertheless, Living In The Past , was a ground-breaking and influential series, the forerunner to all those historical hardship reality series like The 1900s House and the currently running 10,000 BC. There's also a clear linkage to Castaway , nearly a quarter of a century later. 15 volunteers ( including three children ) were selected to live as an Iron Age community for a year in a wood clearing in Dorset. Though allowed some modern tools and supplies to get them through the winter the volunteers were required to become self-sufficient in time.
This being a more innocent age the participants were selected more for their aptitude than any telegenic qualities. There was no Ben Fogle Adonis figure hogging the camera here, just some taciturn beardy guys and unmade up ladies getting on with the hard grind of sustaining themselves. There was a bit of casual nudity in the warmer months but nothing prurient. None of the participants went on to have TV careers though some of their children participated in a poorly-received follow-up show Surviving in the Iron Age in 2001.