Episode 1 Medieval London – Historian Dan Snow gets down and dirty in Medieval grime to discover the hard way how the London we know was forged in the filth of the 14th century. State of the art CGI reveals London’s streets as they were 700 years ago and Dan steps into the shoes of a medieval Londoner, wooden platforms designed to help him rise above the disgusting mess underfoot. He spends the night as a medieval muck raker shifting a staggering six tonnes of excrement, and has a go at medieval butchery to find out what the authorities were up against. Plus, he examines the remains of a plague victim to discover how a catastrophic epidemic would help a new and cleaner London emerge from the muck of the past.
Episode 2 Revolutionary Paris – Just 200 years ago, Paris was famously one of the foulest and smelliest cities in Europe. In this programme historian Dan Snow sniffs out the rotten story of the French revolution. Stunning CGI reveals the stinking streets where ordinary people slaved in toxic industries and suffered grotesque poverty and disease. Dan immerses himself in their world, visiting a perfumer to recreate the stench of the 18th century city, Pong de Paris. He has a go at one of the worst jobs in history, tanning leather by 18th century methods using dog excrement and urine, to make exquisite luxury goods that only the filthy rich could afford. He gets a rare glimpse of the private rooms of infamous Queen Marie Antoinette at the glittering palace of Versailles and reveals some surprising facts about the royal court. Plus he comes face to face with the ultimate killing machine, the gruesome guillotine. Dan/Don finds out what happened to the thousands of bodies that overflowed in the cemeteries of Paris during The Terror. Dan discovers how monumental filth and injustice drove Parisians to a bloody revolution which would transform their city and give birth to a new republic.
Episode 3 Industrial New York – Dan Snow (in the U.K. version) and Don Wildman (in the U.S.A. version) travels back to a seething Manhattan in the throes of the industrial revolution. Millions fled persecution, poverty and famine in Europe in the 19th century in search of the Promised Land. When they arrived what they found was even worse than what they’d left behind. New York was a city consumed by filth and corruption, its massive immigrant population crammed together in the slums of Lower Manhattan. Dan/Don succumbs to some of the deadly disease carrying parasites that thrived in the filthy, overcrowded tenement buildings. He has a go at cooking with some cutting edge 19th century ingredients, clothes dye and floor cleaner, added to disguise reeking fetid meat. And he marvels at some of the incredible feats of engineering that transformed not just the city, but the world.