Jonathan Meades: The Joy of Essex

Jonathan Meades: The Joy of Essex
Radio Times
Review by:
Jack Seale

That there’s more to Essex than spray-tans and punch-ups is, surely, pretty well known: most people are aware that the pop-culture stereotype of the county is drawn from a couple of towns and a few TV shows, ignoring the lovely countryside and villages elsewhere.

As is his wont, though, Jonathan Meades goes deeper than that here, celebrating the modernist architecture of Essex and delving into its history — including one of the world’s first temperance societies, and the social-reform experiments of the 19th century. Meades has never made a programme that wasn’t fascinating and confounding — he’s not about to start now.

About this programme

In a documentary about the county mocked for its stereotyped image as the home of nail bars, nightclubs and tanning salons, Jonathan Meades discovers there is a lot more to Essex than meets the eye. As he explores its buildings and history, he comes across picturesque villages and modernist architecture, as well as the story of one of the world's first temperance societies. He also learns how because of its proximity to London, the county was used for social experiments by 19th-century reformers, who thought its fresh air was just the thing for `outcasts' from the capital.

Cast and crew


Jonathan Meades


Francis Hanly
Executive Producer
Franny Moyle
Allan Campbell