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Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency
E3 of 3
Series 1 - Episode 3
The Many and the Few - A Divided Decade
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Lucy Worsley’s introduction to the final instalment of her Regency history demonstrates more than ever the irresistible enthusiasm of her verbal delivery. She’s a playful combination of David Bellamy and Violet Elizabeth Bott from Just William.
This is storytelling with the sort of gusto that matches the dash of the age. Yet Worsley begins with a single penetrating insight, that Britain had left its absolute monarchy behind and was about to enter the modern age, under steam power. Some of us will sigh with relief that she is no longer labouring the parallel between the 1960s and the Regency period, which means a far more varied and easygoing soundtrack.
There’s also a pleasant contrast in themes. On the one hand, Worsley examines the stirrings of the Industrial Revolution. Yet it’s also a programme of poets, from the melancholic John Clare to a re-assessment of Lord Byron that could be said to cut him down to size – were he not revealed to be so podgy.
Lucy Worsley reviews the final years of George's time as Prince Regent, which culminated in his coronation as King George IV in 1821. Writers including Lord Byron and Percy and Mary Shelley railed against his excesses, while industrial technologies transformed the British landscape - but rapidly expanding cities like Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester remained unrepresented in Parliament due to the country's archaic form of government.
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