Voices From The Old Bailey

Episodes

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0101Highwaymen20100715

Amanda Vickery listens to the voices of 18th-century highwaymen.

Historians struggle to decipher letters and diaries - but what about those who left no record? The poor, those who couldn't write? There is one fantastic source, and it is now online: the Old Bailey Archives.

Through court cases, we can hear the voices of the 18th century.

Thanks to the speedy court shorthand writers, everyone's speech is recorded, from the posh to the poor.

It's the nearest thing we have to a tape recording of the past.

In this new series Professor Amanda Vickery presents dramatised extracts from gripping court cases and discusses with fellow historians what they reveal about 18th century society and culture.

Amanda Vickery was the presenter of the highly successful "A History of Private Life" on BBC Radio 4 last year.

The series begins with the voices of highwaymen in court.

Highwaymen were celebrities, with hordes of adoring women, their executions a great public show.

Some of them are revealed as charismatic, while some can hardly stutter out a sentence.

Amanda listens to what they have to say as they face the gallows, with fellow historians Bob Shoemaker, Helen Berry and John Mullan

Throughout the series there are popular ballads - about crime, or written by criminals - recorded for the first time, on location in one of Dick Turpin's hide-outs.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

0102Wicked Women20100722

Amanda Vickery listens to the voices of criminal women in the Old Bailey.

Professor Amanda Vickery presents dramatised extracts from gripping court cases and discusses with fellow historians what they reveal about 18th century society and culture.

This time, Amanda listens to the voices of criminal women in the Old Bailey, with fellow historians Judith Hawley, Peter King and Jeremy Barlow, on location in a crowded 18th century lodging house.

The first is a shoplifter, who pilfers a pair of silk gloves.

She faces the gallows - but the jury saves her life.

The second is a con-woman, and her case tells us a lot about the vulnerability of men in the 18th century.

The last is an abused wife who chooses the ultimate way out: murder.

But once she has murdered her shopkeeper husband, she has great trouble disposing of the body...

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

0103Children20100729

Amanda Vickery listens to the voices of young children who found themselves in court.

Historians struggle to decipher letters and diaries - but what about those who left no record? The poor, those who couldn't write? There is one fantastic source, and it is now online: the Old Bailey Archives.

Through court cases, we can hear the voices of the 18th century - thanks to the speedy court shorthand writers, everyone's speech is recorded, from the posh to the poor.

It's the nearest thing we have to a tape recording of the past.

Professor Amanda Vickery presents dramatised extracts from gripping court cases and discusses with fellow historians what they reveal about 18th century society and culture.

In this programme, the voices of children.

Even children as young as seven appeared in court in the 18th century, as witnesses, victims - and as criminals.

Amanda Vickery presents three cases which capture the voices of children, and open up the reality of their lives.

One reveals the network of relationships in the workhouse, and the cruelty and kindness which coexisted there.

The second exposes the vulnerability of teenagers working as apprentices.

And the third features a little girl who is sentenced to death - but who then escapes the gallows and makes a long and prosperous life for herself.

With historians Tim Hitchcock, Ruth Richardson and Zoe Laidlaw.

Recorded on location in The Foundling Museum.

0104 LASTConmen And A Brawl In The Streets20100805

Amanda Vickery listens to the voices of conmen and street fighters in the 18th century.

Professor Amanda Vickery presents dramatised extracts from gripping court cases and discusses with fellow historians what they reveal about 18th century society and culture.

She discusses conmen, and asks what they reveal about appearance, identity and social mobility in the growing city of London, Europe's first metropolis.

The Old Bailey was a theatre in which high and low both played starring roles.

This episode's cases mix the greatest writers and artists of the time - Dr Johnson, Joshua Reynolds - with ballad singers, beggars, prostitutes and fraudulent vicars.

There is comedy as well as pathos in these cases.

With historians Hannah Grieg, Peter King and Judith Hawley.

Recorded on location in Joshua Reynolds' house in Soho.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

0201Riots20110727

Rioters argue their case in court, desperately attempting to avoid the noose.

Amanda Vickery explores the culture of 18th century Britain through its dramatic court cases.

In this first programme of the new series, she 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.

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, OldBailey 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.

The music used in this programme was arranged by David Owen Norris, from original 18th century ballads.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

0202Sexual Subcultures20110803

Amanda Vickery uses court cases to explore the lives of gay men in the 18th century.

Amanda Vickery uses court cases to explore the lives of gay men and cross-dressers in the 18th century.

Lesbians did not appear in court as lesbianism was not against the law - but we find and record an 18th century lesbian love song, as well as the hilarious 'Bumography'.

The 3 court cases in the programme range from the tragic to the hilarious.

First, the case of a milkman caught in a raid on a gay brothel - and sentenced to death.

His father-in-law appears in court to plead for him - it turns out the milkman is a widower, with a daughter to raise.

But to no avail: he hangs for the crime of sodomy.

The second case is blackmail, and reveals the vulnerability of all men at the time to accusations of sodomy.

The third stars the hilarious 'Princess Seraphina', a cross-dresser with a bevy of female admirers who turn up in court.

It gives a priceless insight into 18th century camp.

Three contributors discuss the cases: leading gay historian Rictor Norton, whose books and website have a cult following; Helen Berry, historian of sexuality, whose book on castrati is published later this year, and Professor Peter King, historian of crime.

They open up a debate about how far there was a clearly-defined gay identity in the 18th century.

Recorded on location in Lincoln's Inn, where barristers have been beavering away for centuries.

But outside their chambers, this was one of the naughtiest places in London - a notorious gay cruising ground, and site of the 'bog-house', the public toilets which were a place of assignation.

The music used in this programme was arranged by David Owen Norris, from original 18th century ballads.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

0203Servants20110810

Amanda Vickery uses court cases to explore the lives of servants in the 18th century.

Many thousands of cases in the Old Bailey feature servants, and the court transcripts give us something extraordinary: the voices and words of people who have otherwise left no record of their lives.

In court, they not only reveal the detail of their working day, they throw a light on the complex psychological relationship between master and servant.

Three cases are featured in the programme.

The first is a servant who lives with a family so poor they have only one room and she shares their bed.

The master takes her to court accusing her of theft but when she gives evidence, she tells a very different story, of his sexual abuse.

The second case is a juicy case of sexual scandal, and reveals what happens when the mistress falls in love with her footman.

In the final case, which created a huge stir at the time, the servant murders her elderly employer with a bayonet.

Three contributors discuss the cases: Dr Tim Meldrum, author of the leading book on the subject; Dr Hannah Greig, historian of the aristocracy; and Peter King, historian of crime.

The programme is recorded on location in Uppark House, Sussex, where the master of the servant married his dairy maid - and against all expectations, stayed married to her for 21 years until his death.

The historians discuss how far love was possible across the master/servant divide, and reveal that servants were often the moral guardians of a household.

Gwyneth Herbert sings a revealing ballad, a sad cautionary tale about what happens when a young girl falls in love with her father's stable groom.

The music used in this programme was arranged by David Owen Norris, from original 18th century ballads.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

0204 LASTWhose Law Is It Anyway?20110817

Amanda Vickery asks whether ordinary people got a fair trial in the 18th century.

Throughout Voices from the Old Bailey Amanda Vickery uses court cases to reveal the life of ordinary people in the 18th century.

In this final programme she examines the law itself, and how far it gave everyone a fair trial.

The three court cases in the programme take us from the lowest in society to the highest, an Earl who is tried for murder in the most sensational trial of the century.

We hear the voice of an 18th century private detective.

And we hear the voice of a poor Irish laundress accused of murder, who becomes her own defence lawyer and takes five hours to cross-examine witnesses before producing an ingenious closing speech.

Three contributors discuss the cases: Professor David Sugarman, a barrister who is now a historian of law; Professor Peter King, historian of crime, and Professor Robert Shoemaker, co-founder of the online archive OldBailey online.

They reveal a legal system which was surprisingly sophisticated in its treatment of offenders, with a clear hierarchy of penalties for different kinds of people.

This was a period before lawyers took over, and so it allowed both victims and defendants their own voice in court, in a way which has been unequalled since.

The programme is recorded on location in the Middlesex Sessions House in Clerkenwell, once an 18th century court house but now the headquarters of the Masons.

We discover an original 18th century cell in the basement.

Our historians cram into it, and imagine what it must have been like to be held there, and then to emerge into the blinding light of the open-air court room.

We give listeners links to read the cases in full.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.