Ian Hislop is to examine the dramatic cultural revolution that Britain underwent in the 19th Century in The Do-Gooders (working title), a new series for BBC Two focusing on influential Victorian reformers.
Wingspan productions are to produce the new three-part series that will look at one of the most remarkable periods of social change in our history.
It will explore attitudes to children, sex, alcohol and institutional morality, reclaiming the achievements of those high-minded men and women who Ian believes left us a Britain worth living in.
Ian Hislop says: “Victorian do-goodery is easy to mock and tends to be presented nowadays merely as hypocrisy. In fact, its extraordinary energy rescued a society in turmoil and gave it many of the moral bearings we still rely on today.
“The Do-Gooders, in their way, were as much the engineers of modern Britain as Brunel or Stephenson – they looked at their equivalent of “broken Britain” and had the conviction and energy to try to fix it.”
Martin Davidson, Commissioning Editor, History and Business, adds: “The influence of our Victorian ancestors is still to be seen all around us today, so I’m delighted that Ian Hislop will be applying his characteristic dynamism and rigour to the exploration of our debt to them.”
The series will be packed with extraordinary characters, fascinating vignettes and contemporary resonances. In uncovering these stories, the series will attempt to relocate those values which the Victorians bequeathed to us and which, though they’re easily mocked, have made us much of who we are.
The executive producer for the BBC is Cassian Harrison. For Wingspan, the series producer is Deborah Lee and the executive producer is Archie Baron.
Archie says: “We’ve hugely enjoyed working with Ian in the last three years on single documentaries for the BBC like Scouting For Boys, Off The Rails – BBC Four’s highest rating factual programme ever – and Changing Of The Bard.
“Now, in this series, Ian lends his unique combination of wit and wisdom to a much bigger subject with incredible resonance today.”