24 Hours in the Past: who are the celebs and how will they cope in Victorian Britain?

From the BBCs Victorian Farm team comes a new history reality show...

24 Hours in the Past sees six celebrities taken back in time to Victorian Britain, where they’re put through the ringer for four days in different 19th-century workplaces.


The historical reality show will force contestants to eat, sleep, dress and work to match the period – there’ll be no home comforts whatsoever.

As on similar shows Victorian, Edwardian and Wartime Farms there’s much shovelling of muck, rotten vegetables, old bones and anything else producers could think of to smear all over Anne Widdecombe’s face.

It’s not going to be an easy few days for our previously pampered contestants, but who will sink, and who will swim?

The Contestants:

1. Zoe Lucker

Waterloo Road and Eastenders star Zoe Lucker is currently playing good-time party girl Reenie McQueen in Hollyoaks. The McQueens are notoriously hard to handle and not exactly fond of grime either, so staying in character isn’t going to fly here. 

On the other hand, Lucker once trekked over the Himalayas as part of ITV2 documentary A Date With The Dalai Lama, maybe there’s more than meets the eye to this ex-Eastender? One to watch.

2. Anne Widdecombe

The ex-cabinet minister Anne Widdecombe, 67, is an old hand in the reality sphere having starred in Celebrity Fit Club, Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Antiques Roadshow. This is the real deal though, and Widdecombe will be hard pushed to survive the backbreaking physical labour and long nights spent on cold, hard floors. Expect her to struggle.

Writing in this week’s Radio Times she said, “I would have made a rotten Victorian… I answered back and above all, I simply rebelled when anything offended my notions of dealing. It was made clear to me that I would have been turned out of the workhouse to starve.”

3. Alistair MacGowan

Impressionist Alistair McGowan is well known for poking fun at public figures on classic shows Spitting Image and The Big Impression, but will he be able to make light of the gruelling Victorian chores that face him in this week’s episode?

He’s headed to the heap first, for some good old fashioned rubbish sorting. All before a nutritious meal of nettle soup in the evening, cooked by contestants of course (with absolutely no idea how to make nettle soup in the first place.) 

It doesn’t look good for acclaimed funny man McGowan, but if anyone can find some relief in the midst of flying faeces and minor celebrities then he can. Underestimate him at your peril.

4. Colin Jackson

Presenter Colin Jackson was used to fitness and cleanliness in his previous life as a champion British athlete. But can he get down and dirty on the streets of Victorian Britain, or will he fall at the final hurdle and end up in the poorhouse?

Not averse to hard work, you’d think Jackson will thrive in this environment, you don’t win two World Championship gold medals for nothing after all!

He’s also, like Anne Widdecombe, competed on Strictly Come Dancing, coming second to cricketer Darren Gough in 2005. So he’s no stranger to the reality arena, and could lead the way for the other contestants. Expect him to hit the ground running and not look back.

5. Tyger Drew-Honey

He’s known for playing surly teenager Jake Brockman on BBC family comedy Outnumbered. Irritable and sullen, Brockman’s acting out would go down like a lead ballon in a 19th century workhouse, let’s hope he can kick the habit.

Tyger’s more of a presenter these days, working on his own show Tyger Takes On… for BBC3 and doing a few stints for CBBC. How will he fare when roles are reversed?

6. Miquita Oliver

Former host of Channel 4’s Popworld, Miquita Oliver is perhaps the least known of all our budding Victorians. She now has her own show on 4music, after a short stint as a DJ on both Radio 1 and 1Xtra.

Miquita has a reputation for a forthright manner and perhaps the rest of the 24 Hours team are in for a surprise when Miquita shows up for work on day one. 

Watch 24 Hours in the Past tonight at 9pm on BBC1


Read Anne Widdecombe’s full article in this week’s Radio Times, in shops on 28th April and from newsstand for iPad and iPhone