We watch very little TV these days, especially since we signed up for a Netflix-type account with ScreenSelect, but one series we’ve really been enjoying is Tales from the Green Valley on BBC 2.
Five people were chosen to live in a cottage on the Welsh border and run it as a working farm, as it would have been in 1620. This may sound a lot like the 1940s’ House programmes which were popular a little while ago, but it’s superior for two reasons:
- The participants are historians and archaeologists who know their stuff and have thrown themselves into this enthusiastically, rather than members of the general public who are dropped into the ‘past’ to see how they can cope.
- The experiment ran for an entire year rather than just a few weeks. Each programme in the 12-part series looks at life in a different month, so you see the whole sequence of the seasons and how they affect every aspect of life.
It’s very well done, and I recommend it highly, but it’s a bit late because there are only a couple of episodes left. Watch out for re-runs, though, and if anyone you know enjoyed 1900s House or 1940s House, they’ll love this and learn a lot more. It’ll be out on video just after Christmas.
Have you ever wondered where the site for Tales of the Green Valley came from? The location is part of an ongoing project started in 1987 to reconstruct a working early 17th century agricultural landscape. Over 550 volunteers from 28 countries have worked on the site since then, over 100 research publications on food farming and domestic life of the period have been produced and a vast body of knowledge and experience of the farming system acquired over nearly 20 years.
Having finished the main building reconstruction work in 2002 trust members floated the idea of the series around a number of TV production companies. The film company parachuted in their “full time” “experts” selected primarily for being “Tele-visual” although some were really only on site for a couple of days filming a month. The visiting experts who pop up in various episodes are mostly trust members such as Dr Malcolm Stratford the charcoal burner and Tim Kohler, the haymaker, a field officer with English Nature. Be wary of the historical accuracy of the material some is very good but the TV company was making entertainment and some is wrong but they did not care.
A book on the building of the site is almost complete and expected to be published in May by Heritage Marketing and Publications.
Thanks, Stuart – most interesting. I’ll certainly watch out for the book. Do you know the likely name/authors?
The Building of the Green Valley
We’ve now got the DVD set, which is great, and has some more details. And I’ve also therefore now seen the first episode, which gives some basic background about the history of the farm, the scope of the project, and the involvement of the various presenters.
Will look out for the book, too…
The Building of the Green Valley by Stuart Peachey will be published by Heritage Marketing and Publications Ltd in late May 2006. Further details can be found at heritagemp.com
In Ontario, Canada, this series was broadcast on TV Ontario, a broadcaster similar in nature to that of PBS in the United States.
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this series. It’s great to see history come to life. I have not seen any mention of an NTSC version of this series on DVD. I hope there will be one in the future. I’d love to buy a copy of the series compatible with our North American standard.
We followed and recorded (on dvd) every part of this series except the last episode because the transmission kept breaking up making it impossible to watch or record.I informed TVO of this problem but received no response. I would like to know if this series is going to be rerun in the future-anyone?
I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario and recently purchased the DVD on EBay. It plays on both my laptop and DVD player, and I sure know because I watch it over and over and over. My understanding is that most newer DVD players can read multiple country codes, and there are programs available to copy the DVD on your computer with a different country code. Best of luck.
I understand you are trying to contact the Green Valley project. Look in Stuart-hmaltd.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk and use the contact details there. Many of the specialists write for Stuart press and the company will put you in contact. The main season next year for international volunteers living history and experimentation is mid June to late july 2008.
“Have you ever wondered where Tales From the Green Valley…” Yes I have! I hooked onto this post thinking it was offering an answer to this question only to find it didn’t! Can someone PLEASE tell me where it is and if it’s possible to visit?!!! We watched the series (and its sister series “Victorian Farm”) bought the DVD (as well as the DVD and book to “Victorian Farm”) we’ve seen many repeats of the series and we’re still no nearer to knowing where it is.
Any help with finding its locatin would be gratefully received.
This reply’s 10 years too late, but look here: http://www.bullacehill.com/what-we-do.html
Lois – Thanks for that!
We may well try to visit next time we travel westwards!
All the best,