Victorian Pharmacy

4 x 60 mins - BBC2 

Series Director & Writer

In a unique experiment, historian Ruth Goodman, Professor of the Practice of Pharmacy Nick Barber and PhD student Tom Quick recreate an authentic 19th-century chemist’s shop.

 The series tracked the growth of the pharmacy through six remarkable decades in the history of medicine. An age of social revolution that brought healthcare within the reach of ordinary people for the very first time and put a chemist’s shop on every high street in the country

 Using authentic recipes and ingredients of the day the team made up remedies for people with a range of everyday ailments. But in a time when skin creams contained arsenic, cold medicines were based on opium and toothache was eased with mercury, they had to be careful. The challenge was to re-create authentic and safe medicines to discover what could be learnt from the way Victorians treated illness?

 Shot on location at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Shropshire we were able to take over the living museum’s existing pharmacy shop for the shoot. This was restocked with new medicines and equipment as we followed the growth of the business through the 19th Century. Nearby, in an abandoned workshop, we recreated a completely new studio set for the pharmacy’s all-important laboratory. Here we were able to film the team as they recreated the medicines of the day.