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  • BBC Two
  • 45 mins
  • Documentary

Three-part series in which author Peter Ackroyd explores the history and development of the English capital, London.

3 episodes

1x01 Fire and Destiny

  • Series Premiere

    no air date — 45 mins

Author Peter Ackroyd explores the development of London, revealing how the city has managed to survive several devastating fires. Drawing on the writings of Tacitus, Samuel Pepys and Virginia Woolf, he charts some of the most destructive chapters in the capital's history, including the Iceni rebellion, the Great Fire and the Blitz. With Derek Jacobi and Harriet Walter.

1x02 The Crowd

  • no air date — 45 mins

Peter Ackroyd explores the city's frequently destructive relationship with its population, and investigates how London's search for power and profit resulted in the Georgian sex trade. He also examines the authorities' attempts to control public gatherings, from Dickens's accounts of life in the notorious Newgate Gaol to the more recent poll tax and May Day riots.

1x03 Water and Darkness

  • no air date — 45 mins

Author Peter Ackroyd explores Victorian London, and reveals that although the city was the thriving heart of the British Empire, it was also home to a growing underclass. He examines the story of Jack the Ripper, asking why the Whitechapel murders continue to have such a strong hold over the public's imagination, and celebrates the work of 19th-century journalist Henry Mayhew, who campaigned to give the capital's poor a voice. With Timothy West and Tom Hollander.