Thursday, September 23, 2010
video topic: Design, Daily life in urban cities
entry type: Documentary series
video title: Just Another Day
video series: Just Another Day
director: Adam Hart Davis
producer: History Channel, ITV Productions
run time: 45 mins each
size: 350 mb each
release date: 2007
description and preview:
(click "read more" below)
From the humble button and the practical alarm clock, to the perfectly timed boiled egg and your cup of tea, Adam Hart-Davis uncovers the history behind some of the everyday items that we now take for granted.
In his new series, Adam Hart-Davis investigates the fantastic inventions that make our daily lives easier. Most of us scarcely give a second thought to the science and history of these commonplace gadgets and gizmos, but the hyperactive historian does not share our indifference. Adam reveals the scintillating stories behind a kaleidoscopic range of everyday objects.
Take the humble British cuppa. Adam outlines how and why tea became our national obsession, revealing that the drink first came to Britain when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza in the mid seventeenth century. The Portuguese princess was a tea addict; her love of the leaf soon spread to the wealthy classes as a whole. Before this, ale had been Britain’s chosen morning beverage; even the Royal family sank a pint or two at breakfast time.
Adam’s irrepressible curiosity also extends to Britain’s personal cleanliness. We may take our morning ablutions for granted, but the Romans took bathing extremely seriously. In Rome, there was a public bath house on every corner – much like our pubs today. Adam journeys to the Somerset town of Bath, where he relaxes in the best preserved ancient baths in northern Europe. Entrance was cheap and the baths were a social hub – a place to meet, play games, eat, drink and gossip. Adam also reveals that the Romans didn’t use soap to clean themselves – they preferred to sweat the dirt out.
After scouring himself Roman style, Adam prepares to delve into the history of the humble barbershop. Man has been fighting his battle with facial hair for thousands of years; the average British male will spend 3,000 hours of his life shaving. Contrary to popular belief, early man attempted to keep himself clean shaven. Cave paintings show beardless men, while Stone Age razors made of stone or horn have been excavated. Adam reveals that Alexander the Great went beardless, apparently to show off his handsome profile, while beardlessness in Roman times distinguished masters from their slaves. Later, in Elizabeth I’s reign, a law was passed decreeing that any man with more than two weeks of beard growth should be taxed.
Adam also examines the things we do after work, when we get home. Our presenter reveals that before the advent of mains electricity, every housewife in Britain would spend one whole day of her week washing by hand. Usually on what became known as ‘Blue Monday’, this mundane marathon of physical graft used curious sounding objects like a copper, a posser and a bar of sunlight. The first electric washer was produced in 1907. However, it was not until the 1950s that washing machines were made affordable to ordinary people, categorically consigning ‘wash day blues’ to history.
Adam’s whistle-stop tour celebrates the unsung saviours of everyday British life. From televisions and gin and tonic, to toothpaste and teabags, you will never look at your ‘boring’ daily routine in the same light again.
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