Belfast The One Show - Best of Britain


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Hello and welcome to The One Show - Best Of Britain,

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-with Joe Crowley.

-And Angelica Bell.

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And another chance to see some of our favourite One Show films.

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Today we are in a city that was once lumped in with Baghdad, Beirut

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and Bosnia as a place for travellers to avoid.

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Here's a clue. It also begins with B.

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It's since had an incredible transformation

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and this year was named as one of the world's must-see places.

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It's packed with history, culture, events, great food and shopping

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and you might even spot a ship or two.

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And you'll be sure to find some of the friendliest people

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you will ever meet.

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It is of course...Belfast.

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Queen Victoria's favourite city and fast becoming one of ours too.

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On tonight's show.

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Spiders, bananas and a deadly Victorian poisoner.

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Mike has an eight-legged solution for arthritic knees.

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This is amazing. It's an arachnophobes nightmare.

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Joe asks why we only eat one of 100 types of our favourite yellow fruit.

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And the legend of how this became so popular

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and so famous is absolutely riveting.

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And Ruth has a tale of someone I would not want to be married to.

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A Victorian husband poisoner.

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But first, Carrie Grant remembers a forgotten local lass,

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a silent movie star born and bred in this fair city,

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who made it big in Hollywood.

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Now I'm not talking about Hollywood on the road to Bangor,

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I mean the real deal.

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She was a big star.

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She had her name in lights in Hollywood

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and she hadn't even said a word.

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This star of almost 70 silent films hailed from working-class Belfast

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and gloried in the name of Eileen Percy.

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Nearly a century on, there's no glorification of Eileen here.

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Not a plaque, not a statue, nothing.

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In the 1930s, Eileen was the brightest of Hollywood stars.

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Here she's partying with Clark Gable.

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So how did the Belfast girl from Vernon Street,

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who should have been an office girl,

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end up acting the part in Hollywood?

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She would have been living here at number 33,

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it would have been a relatively small house with outside loo.

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As a girl, her educational

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and job opportunities would have been fairly limited.

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-She may have been able to stay on at school until she was 14.

-14?

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Yes, if she was very fortunate,

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but for a lot of women in Belfast where there was a big

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textile industry, they could have left school at 12

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and gone to work half-time in the mill.

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She may have become a typist, but realistically I don't think

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any sort of Hollywood scouts would have picked her up in Belfast.

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Born in 1900, Eileen was only seven

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when she left for America in search of the American Dream.

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The Percys, like thousands of other Irish immigrants,

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settled in Brooklyn and sent Eileen to convent school.

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But Eileen had other plans.

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By 11, she was working as a photographer's model

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and by 15, she'd sashayed her way

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into the chorus line of the famous Ziegfeld Follies.

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The Ziegfeld Follies were extravagant shows on Broadway,

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a little bit scandalous, but certainly not seedy burlesque.

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These shows starred a lot of the major actors of the period.

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Comedians.

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And some very famous beautiful women and she was one of them.

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-How did Eileen come to the attention of Hollywood?

-Fairbanks.

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Douglas Fairbanks.

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When he saw her he realised that she had a particular look that he

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thought would be perfect for the camera.

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And lured her to Hollywood on a contract of about 150 per week.

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It would have been a large amount of money,

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but within a few years she was making something like 1,800 per week

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which would be more than most people made per year.

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The movies moved west to catch the Californian sunshine.

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The era of celebrity had arrived and film screenplays

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almost played second fiddle to the fantasy lives of the stars.

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One of the brightest was our Eileen.

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The teenage Miss Percy signed a deal with Fox Pictures

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and across the next two decades,

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the girl from Vernon Street proved she was no one-hit wonder.

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She sparkled in a stunning 64 films.

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So how come no-one round here knows who she is?

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-She's a silent movie star. Never heard of her?

-Never heard of her.

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-Not ringing any bells?

-No.

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She was what?

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-A silent movie star.

-No.

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I know it was something to do with movies or something.

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Oh my gosh, someone knows her.

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I hope she was as good looking as you!

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'And he hasn't even seen Eileen!'

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But in the late-1920s, the movies became the talkies.

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Like the star in The Artist, the struggle to adjust was

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Eileen's problem.

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She looked the part, but with her Belfast accent she didn't sound it.

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Major careers crumble and new careers are born

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because everything becomes not so much about the face any more,

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but instead about the voice and if you were Eileen Percy and you were

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so used to being associated with non-Irish roles,

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this voice, her voice, just simply didn't register with audiences.

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None of Eileen's famous friends could help her.

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She appeared in just five more films.

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But tonight, for the people of Vernon Street,

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we've brought Eileen home in this special premiere.

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Are we ready to meet Eileen Percy?

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All: Yes!

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Let's go.

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-So is he a goodie or a baddie?

-He's a bad one.

-He's a baddie, is he?

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-Oh, yeah.

-The Man From Painted Post is one of Eileen's best films.

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Here, she plays to perfection the role that catapulted her

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into the big time, the love interest of Douglas Fairbanks.

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Eileen died in Beverly Hills in 1973.

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But here, below the Belfast hills,

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the girl from Vernon Street is once again making a name for herself.

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Ah, poor Eileen, thwarted by the talkies.

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Hopefully the locals will take her into their hearts now.

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We're just outside Belfast in the Tudor Cinema in Comber.

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It is a true labour of love.

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It's taken twins Roy and Noel Spence over 30 years to build.

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And we're here with Noel now.

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This is the last thing I'd expect to find in the middle

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of the countryside. How did it come about?

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It was originally, about 40 years ago, a hen house.

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When I moved into the country here I saw the hen house

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and said that has to be a cinema.

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I started to work on it and adapt it

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and expand it and it evolved over the decades.

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I kept on adding bits. Some of them unnecessary, but I couldn't resist.

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-Couldn't resist improvements.

-And where did you get the bits from?

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From closed cinemas.

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A lot of cinemas closed in Belfast in the '60s and '70s,

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during the Troubles.

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You know, and I was like a scavenger.

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I was round picking up fittings.

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So you just went in?

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Well, just asked for them.

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They were going to be skipped, they were going to be dumped,

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so I got them and preserved them.

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It's nice to know that they are being maintained.

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Gives this place some real history.

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It does, yeah, all the fittings, are not repro stuff,

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they are all originals which is nice

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and I know exactly where each one came from.

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And who actually comes here and watches films?

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All kinds of groups. Women's Institutes, Mothers' Unions,

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Probus Clubs. A whole variety of groups.

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Most of them elderly, but some of them not.

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For example, last night I had the Northern Ireland Scooter Club

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here watching Quadrophenia.

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And you don't charge, do you?

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I don't charge, no. I don't want to be a business.

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-It's strictly a hobby.

-All for the love of it?

-For the love of it, yeah.

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Noel, thank you so much for having us, this place is beautiful.

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-You're welcome.

-Thank you. Now, Joe, what's up next?

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Well, next we have an action movie or should that be horror?

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With Mike Dilger in spandex. Take a look at this.

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(Where's the popcorn?)

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It's a well-kept secret, but in my spare time

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I'm training to be...

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Spider-Man.

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Now for me, that's not a problem,

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but not many people have my spider-like abilities.

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-Was that all right, mate?

-Yeah. Thanks.

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OK, so I'm not there yet,

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but spiders can perform one superhero-like feat,

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they can spin silk that is weight for weight six times stronger than steel.

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It's been said if a giant cobweb were to be constructed

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with the individual strands one centimetre in thickness,

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it would be strong enough to stop a jumbo jet in mid flight.

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Not even Spider-Man could do that.

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Spiders obviously use their webs to catch insects,

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not passing jets, but given its properties,

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scientist realised spider's silk could be useful in medicine.

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It combines great elasticity with superb strength

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and with being an organic protein.

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That means it's got great potential for use in the human body

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to fix injuries to tissues like cartilage and bone.

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So, Nick started by studying some rather special spiders.

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Where are we going?

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-This is the spider factory, here on the right.

-Oh, yes!

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This is amazing. It's an arachnophobe's nightmare.

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You wouldn't want to come in

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if you didn't like our eight-legged friends. That's for sure.

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This greenhouse contains

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about 60 large venomous spiders from Australia.

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They're golden orb web spiders.

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They're named golden orb web

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because they spin this beautiful golden silk.

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It's amazing. You can see it here. Look how strong it is.

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That's why we're interested in them, yeah.

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To try and recreate spider's silk,

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Nick needed to get his hands on quite a lot of it.

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It's tricky because a bite

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from one of these spiders would be extremely painful.

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But they've found a surprising method of collecting the silk that

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doesn't hurt the spider.

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Tom is our chief spider wrangler.

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What he's done is he's anaesthetised the spider

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and then he's pinned her down, not harming her in the process,

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and she's quite happily reeling out a strand of spider silk now.

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Each spider can produce about 20 metres of silk in one go.

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And in a couple of days their silk glands

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are full of top-quality silk once again.

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It's really to give us the gold standard,

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the benchmark silk that we can try and make our silks as good as.

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The trouble was, 20 metres of silk per spider

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wasn't enough for the large-scale medical uses Nick needed.

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So he's found a much more prolific spinner, the silkworm.

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And because their silk is weaker, he's turned it into a liquid.

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-So, Nick, this is what you finally end up with, is it?

-Yes.

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This is what you'd find

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if you were to cut open a silkworm or a spider's abdomen.

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It's silk before it's been spun into a fibre.

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-It looks like quite sticky mucus, I have to say.

-That's right.

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It's a viscose liquid.

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But if you squidge it between your fingers you'll see

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it starts to form strands.

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You're effectively, in a very crude way, spinning silk fibres,

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using your fingers.

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So does that mean you can make super-strong fibres,

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just like you'd see in a spider then?

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Well, unfortunately not.

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Spiders have been doing this for 400 million years

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and we've only been doing it four years.

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But what we can do is turn this into any shape.

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What we've done is to make it into super-strong

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spider silk-like sponges and these are really tough and resilient.

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-Give them a squish between your fingers.

-That is so strong.

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It's like really hard rubber, isn't it?

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Because they are rubbery and very strong,

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these pads could be used to replace damaged cartilage in knee joints.

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This would drastically cut the need for artificial knee replacements,

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potentially saving the health service

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hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

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And the great thing about it is just like cartilage,

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it's made out of a structural protein and so in time,

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we think it'll be remodelled and reabsorbed

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and turned back into the original cartilage.

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So, thanks to the spiders' super-strong silk,

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people with knee problems

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could soon have an extra spring in their step,

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just like my Spider-Man stunt double.

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The irrepressible Mike Dilger there.

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Now, no tour of Belfast is complete without seeing the striking murals

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that commemorate the events that have shaped and also shaken this city.

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And Aiden is one of the guys who

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takes tourists around the streets of Belfast.

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It's fair to say that there's

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so much history steeped in Belfast, isn't there?

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Yeah, we're lucky to have it, we've a really unique story.

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We've lots to tell people.

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We have a positive story

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and we're really glad everyone's come to have a look.

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So, who paints the murals?

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Professional artists mainly,

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under the direction of community groups, schools,

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but also some school children have been involved

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in producing the new murals.

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Some people think they are quite aggressive, quite hostile.

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Is it right to celebrate some of those images

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when there are still clearly underlying tensions?

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Well, those more negative images are really a legacy of the Troubles.

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Here's a process of replacing those murals

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happening at the minute. It's part of our story.

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And tell us about the wall alongside us here.

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It's absolutely huge, isn't it?

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It is. You can see, it's almost twice the height of this bus.

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And this is only one small section of the wall.

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These were constructed in the late '60s as temporary barricades

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within communities.

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Some communities felt under threat at that time.

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So the walls started as temporary things

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and unfortunately it became very, very permanent.

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If you add up all the peace walls, in Belfast,

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there's over 15 miles of this in modern Belfast

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so we do have a job on to remove them.

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That is happening bit by bit, but it will take us time.

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Easy to build them up, not so quick to take them down again?

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That's unfortunately the case in Belfast, yeah.

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Thanks, Aiden.

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Now to The Choice, our series of films

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of people who've had to face life-changing decisions.

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Wendy Robbins meets a woman still living with

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the consequences of her actions many years later.

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My name is Jasvinder Sanghera.

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I was born in Britain and I went to school in Britain.

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When I was 15 years old I said no to an arranged marriage.

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I ran away from home and that decision affected my life

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and the lives of my three children forever.

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Jasvinder Sanghera grew up in a Sikh family in Derby.

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Arranged marriages were a common tradition in the community

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and when Jasvinder was 14 years old her parents told her

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they had found her a husband from India.

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Tell me about when you were first shown that photograph

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of your husband-to-be.

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I was just a normal kid who came home from school one day

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and my mother sat me down and she presented me

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with a photograph of the man.

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I said, "Mum, I don't want to marry this person."

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She just left it at that and put the photograph on the mantelpiece

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and every now and again she would point it out to me and say

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"This is your future husband."

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The pressure mounted when I was 15 and a half.

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My mother would be impressing upon me that "you will go through with this".

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That was when I started to say, "No, I will not."

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That was when my mother took me out of school

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and I was locked in a room at home.

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The thing for me was, I'd seen it happen to my sisters.

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They would say, "You're no different to us.

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"We went through with it, why are you any different?"

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-And how did you escape in the end?

-One day I saw an opportunity.

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The front was open and I just ran.

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She escaped with the help of her best friend's brother

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and the two fled to Newcastle.

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Jasvinder crouched hiding on the floor of the car

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until she saw the Tyne Bridge.

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Overnight I'd lost everybody I'd ever known and loved. My family.

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I would come here and walk around aimlessly

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and look over that bridge often and think, "Well,

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"if I just throw myself in there, who's going to miss me?"

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After months in hiding,

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a police officer persuaded Jasvinder to contact her family.

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My mother's response was shocking.

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It was, "You stay where you are unless you want to come home

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"and marry who we say otherwise you are now dead in our eyes."

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Jasvinder spent the next seven years as an outcast,

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then the tragic story of her sister Robina

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spurred her to come out of hiding.

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Tell me about your sister, Robina.

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Robina suffered horrific domestic violence

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and we used to have a relationship in secret

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and she would tell me that she was suffering violence

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and I would say well go and tell Mum and Dad and she did,

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but they would send her back

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and say it's your duty to make this marriage work.

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You know, because of our honour.

0:17:050:17:06

In the end my sister, 24 years old,

0:17:060:17:10

she had a little boy who was five at the time,

0:17:100:17:13

she set herself on fire, suffered over 90% burns and died.

0:17:130:17:17

Jasvinder set up Karma Nirvana,

0:17:180:17:19

a charity for victims of honour-based abuse

0:17:190:17:23

and forced marriages.

0:17:230:17:24

The majority of calls it deals with each week

0:17:240:17:27

are from British-born schoolgirls and women.

0:17:270:17:30

Give me an idea of the kind of calls you receive here.

0:17:300:17:33

Well, just this morning we've had

0:17:330:17:34

a teacher call about a 14 year old girl at risk.

0:17:340:17:37

We rescued a victim of forced marriage

0:17:370:17:40

who is now rebuilding her life.

0:17:400:17:41

We receive over 400 calls a month.

0:17:410:17:44

The biggest achievement for me has to be that we are saving lives.

0:17:440:17:48

Although Jasvinder's sent her family photos over the years,

0:17:480:17:52

they never forgave her for running away and in their eyes,

0:17:520:17:55

bringing shame on the whole family.

0:17:550:17:58

When my father died, I went to the house

0:17:580:18:01

and in the corner of his room on the wall there was my photograph.

0:18:010:18:06

And I thought, "You know, Dad, in death you say 1,000 things to me,

0:18:060:18:11

"but you could never say them when you're alive."

0:18:110:18:14

And I just think what a waste.

0:18:140:18:16

All these years later,

0:18:160:18:18

Jasvinder still has no relationship with the rest of her family.

0:18:180:18:22

Her eldest daughter, Natasha, is getting married soon

0:18:220:18:25

but there will be no-one at the wedding from Jasvinder's side.

0:18:250:18:28

A sad consequence of a decision taken 30 years ago.

0:18:280:18:33

Yet a decision that has given her daughter choices

0:18:330:18:37

that most of us take for granted.

0:18:370:18:39

That decision has given her a university education,

0:18:390:18:42

independence, the right to choose who she wants to marry.

0:18:420:18:45

And I'm just incredibly proud of my mum for making that decision,

0:18:450:18:48

leaving at that age and running away and doing that

0:18:480:18:53

and being the person that she is today.

0:18:530:18:54

Hey, what a great place. Now this has got to be our final stop.

0:18:580:19:02

No, no, no, Joe, we're still on the job, this is just a pit-stop, OK?

0:19:020:19:06

This is the Crown Liquor Saloon

0:19:060:19:07

also known as the Crown Bar to locals

0:19:070:19:10

and it's been here since Victorian times.

0:19:100:19:11

And it still looks like it's lit by gas lamps.

0:19:110:19:14

Really atmospheric on a rainy day.

0:19:140:19:15

It's brilliant and still got

0:19:150:19:17

all the original tiles and carvings.

0:19:170:19:19

Apparently Polish immigrants who built the cathedral

0:19:190:19:22

moonlighted doing all the carvings, it's great.

0:19:220:19:24

A wonder they had time, building a cathedral as well?

0:19:240:19:28

I love how the windows are decorated to stop prying eyes seeing in,

0:19:280:19:31

seeing you have a cheeky swifty. Now come on, what's your poison?

0:19:310:19:34

Because we're in Belfast I think we should stick to the black stuff.

0:19:340:19:37

OK, and speaking of poison, our next film is about a real-life crime

0:19:370:19:41

that could have come from Sherlock Holmes' casebook.

0:19:410:19:44

Ruth Goodwin has been delving into the dastardly deeds

0:19:440:19:47

of an infamous Victorian poisoner.

0:19:470:19:49

Victorian Britain had an unhealthy and macabre obsession with murder.

0:19:520:19:56

In the mid-1800s the newspapers were full of lurid tales

0:19:560:20:00

about women murdering their husbands.

0:20:000:20:02

But ironically, the impetus for this murderous killing spree

0:20:020:20:07

was a financial service.

0:20:070:20:09

In the 1840s, life-insurance policies were becoming widespread

0:20:090:20:13

and for the first time, death could mean a big pay out.

0:20:130:20:18

They were designed to keep middle-class families secure

0:20:180:20:20

if the wage earner died.

0:20:200:20:22

Historian Dr Ian Birney has studied the effects the new policies had.

0:20:230:20:27

Life insurance is considered to be one of the crowning achievements

0:20:280:20:31

of Victorian civilisation.

0:20:310:20:33

There is an aggressive expansion of the market.

0:20:330:20:36

As far as life insurance is concerned,

0:20:360:20:38

the typical payout would be thousands, even tens of thousands.

0:20:380:20:41

The financial incentive for a husband's death

0:20:410:20:44

proved all too tempting to women who became known as the Black Widows.

0:20:440:20:49

And committing the perfect murder in Victorian Britain was not

0:20:490:20:52

that difficult when a deadly poison like arsenic was easily available.

0:20:520:20:57

It was in the curtains, it was in the candles that lit the home.

0:20:570:21:01

It was in the toys that the children played with.

0:21:010:21:03

There was an estimation that there were 100 million square miles

0:21:030:21:07

of arsenical green wallpaper covering the nation's walls.

0:21:070:21:12

So it was everywhere and very easy to buy.

0:21:120:21:14

Also, its symptoms mimic some of the classic

0:21:140:21:17

filth disease symptoms which were commonplace.

0:21:170:21:21

Gastric conditions, vomiting, diarrhoea and the like.

0:21:210:21:24

Victorian graveyards began to fill with the victims of the Black Widows.

0:21:240:21:28

And arsenic earned a nickname, inheritance powder.

0:21:280:21:33

One woman here in County Durham was the poster child

0:21:330:21:37

for this lethal cocktail of money and murder.

0:21:370:21:40

Her name was Mary Ann Cotton and for over 100 years

0:21:420:21:45

she's been notorious as the ultimate Black Widow life-insurance killer.

0:21:450:21:50

She claimed payouts on the deaths of husbands and children.

0:21:500:21:53

This church in West Auckland

0:21:530:21:56

was where her murderous trail finally came unstuck.

0:21:560:22:00

In the early 1872, Mary Ann's stepson

0:22:000:22:03

Charles was exhumed from this graveyard.

0:22:030:22:06

Five days before his death, he had been turned away

0:22:060:22:09

from the workhouse, seemingly fit and healthy.

0:22:090:22:12

And in frustration, Mary Ann had said to the overseer,

0:22:120:22:17

"He won't be troubling me long."

0:22:170:22:19

He'll go the way of all the other Cottons.

0:22:190:22:22

Charles was the 12th of Mary Ann's children to die,

0:22:220:22:25

as well as three husbands, a lover and her mother.

0:22:250:22:28

Before even making burial arrangements,

0:22:280:22:31

Mary Ann's first port of call was the insurance office.

0:22:310:22:34

Like at least 11 of Mary Ann's dead relatives,

0:22:340:22:38

Charles' death was insured.

0:22:380:22:40

Doctor Sarah Price is from Durham University and knows the story well.

0:22:410:22:45

How did she get caught in the end?

0:22:450:22:46

One of the doctors thought it was just gastric fever,

0:22:460:22:49

but he actually saved some of the internal organs

0:22:490:22:52

to do some tests and came to the conclusion

0:22:520:22:54

that Charles had been poisoned by arsenic.

0:22:540:22:57

This then prompted the exhumation of some other bodies

0:22:570:23:00

and they also found evidence of arsenic poisoning.

0:23:000:23:02

Mary Ann Cotton was put on trial, found guilty,

0:23:020:23:06

and hanged at Durham jail in 1873.

0:23:060:23:09

After her death,

0:23:090:23:10

parishioners at this church raised money for a stained-glass window

0:23:100:23:14

to recognise the doctor whose diligence

0:23:140:23:16

ended Cotton's murderous career.

0:23:160:23:19

So how did she get away with it for so long?

0:23:190:23:21

Infant mortality rates were high, it also helped that she moved around

0:23:210:23:25

so there was no history of suspicion.

0:23:250:23:27

She also did a lot of nursing, who's going to suspect the nurse?

0:23:270:23:31

Life insurance was designed to protect bereaved families.

0:23:310:23:36

In many cases, however, and spectacularly in this one,

0:23:360:23:40

they achieved the complete opposite.

0:23:400:23:42

Instead of protecting families, they were destroyed.

0:23:420:23:45

Gripping stuff. Now have you ever noticed,

0:23:490:23:52

Ruth never seems to get the nice history films?

0:23:520:23:54

She is always up to her neck in murk or muck of one kind or another.

0:23:540:23:57

Well, she'll be well at home here at Belfast Botanic Gardens.

0:23:570:24:01

A public park since 1895

0:24:010:24:03

and a great place to come when it's...well...wet!

0:24:030:24:06

As it is. Just behind us is the Palm House, which Richard Turner

0:24:060:24:09

built before he built the Great Palm House at Kew Gardens.

0:24:090:24:12

So, Belfast got there first!

0:24:120:24:15

-And this is the tropical ravine building.

-Good.

0:24:150:24:18

-I need to find something here.

-What are you looking for?

-Bananas.

0:24:180:24:22

Bananas... there, OK.

0:24:220:24:23

-Right. See that?

-Yeah.

0:24:230:24:24

-Do you know what type of banana that is?

-I have no idea.

0:24:240:24:27

And neither do most people, as Jay Rayner found out,

0:24:270:24:29

when he got his teeth into the story

0:24:290:24:31

of the humble musa.

0:24:310:24:33

-That's Latin for banana, you know?

-I knew that.

-OK.

0:24:330:24:35

Braeburn, Granny Smith, Pink Lady,

0:24:370:24:40

we all know our favourite variety of apple,

0:24:400:24:43

but with bananas, it's somehow different.

0:24:430:24:46

-Do you know the names of any varieties of bananas?

-I don't, no.

0:24:460:24:49

I couldn't name a variety.

0:24:490:24:51

A banana's a banana.

0:24:510:24:53

In fact, there are over 1,000 different varieties

0:24:530:24:55

of banana around the world and in Britain,

0:24:550:24:58

we really only eat one.

0:24:580:25:00

It's called the Cavendish

0:25:000:25:01

and the legend of how this became so popular and so famous

0:25:010:25:05

is absolutely riveting.

0:25:050:25:07

But peel back the story and you find within it,

0:25:070:25:10

the seeds of its own demise

0:25:100:25:13

and if something isn't done, top banana could become no banana.

0:25:130:25:17

Surprisingly, the history of the banana in Britain

0:25:200:25:22

kicks off at Chatsworth House,

0:25:220:25:24

for centuries, home to the Dukes of Devonshire.

0:25:240:25:28

The sixth Duke, William Cavendish, had a taste for the exotic.

0:25:280:25:31

In 1829, he purchased a rare banana plant imported from Mauritius,

0:25:310:25:35

which he described as, "a most beautiful and curious fruit."

0:25:350:25:39

In his magnificent greenhouses, the head gardener, Joseph Paxton,

0:25:390:25:44

set about nurturing the Duke's prize plant

0:25:440:25:46

and within a few years, it was bearing fruit.

0:25:460:25:50

Although bananas were known in this country,

0:25:520:25:54

to actually have a plant fruiting was probably, if not a first,

0:25:540:25:57

certainly very unusual.

0:25:570:25:59

-Who got to eat them?

-The Duke, and it's still

0:25:590:26:01

the case today. It would have been a very choice, a very top end...

0:26:010:26:04

When special guests coming, for those occasions bananas were used.

0:26:040:26:08

The Duke and Paxton were immensely proud of their banana

0:26:080:26:11

and in 1836, decided to exhibit it at the Royal Horticultural Society,

0:26:110:26:16

where it caused a sensation.

0:26:160:26:18

It was decided to name it in honour of the Duke,

0:26:180:26:21

and from then on, this banana became known as the Cavendish.

0:26:210:26:25

In 1837, a Christian missionary, Reverend John Williams,

0:26:250:26:28

set sail for the Samoa Islands

0:26:280:26:31

with one of the Duke's banana plants on board.

0:26:310:26:33

From there, the plant spread across the Pacific.

0:26:330:26:36

Tasty, easy to ripen and to transport,

0:26:360:26:38

today the Cavendish is the most widely exported banana in the world.

0:26:380:26:43

Its rise to the number one spot was helped when its main rival,

0:26:450:26:49

the sweet-tasting Big Mike banana,

0:26:490:26:51

was wiped out by Panama Disease in the 1950s.

0:26:510:26:54

The disease is caused by a fungus, and a new strain is now

0:26:540:26:58

threatening the Cavendish.

0:26:580:27:00

What makes bananas like the Cavendish susceptible to disease

0:27:020:27:04

is that they have no seeds.

0:27:040:27:07

They're completely infertile, and so the only way

0:27:070:27:10

to reproduce the plant, is to take cuttings from its roots.

0:27:100:27:13

That's clearly a bit of a problem, isn't it,

0:27:130:27:16

because they are genetic copies, they are clones.

0:27:160:27:18

The problems are things like diseases.

0:27:180:27:21

If the plant is susceptible to disease,

0:27:210:27:22

it'll always be susceptible to that disease.

0:27:220:27:24

But it's not over yet.

0:27:240:27:26

An international team of scientists are hoping to use genetics

0:27:260:27:29

to save the Cavendish.

0:27:290:27:31

This is a leaf which has symptoms

0:27:310:27:32

of the Panama Disease on it,

0:27:320:27:36

which is devastating and killing bananas throughout South East Asia.

0:27:360:27:40

Does it have any defence against Panama Disease like this?

0:27:400:27:44

There's no resistance whatsoever in the Cavendish, and what's more,

0:27:440:27:48

there's no chemical treatment which is possible to cure this disease.

0:27:480:27:52

Scientists are turning to the other, less familiar,

0:27:520:27:55

but were disease-resistant varieties of banana for help.

0:27:550:27:58

Could the Pisang Mas from Malaysia save our beloved Cavendish?

0:27:580:28:01

It's tiny. It really is tiny.

0:28:010:28:05

Yes, it's very, very small.

0:28:050:28:06

You see the comparison in size with normal Cavendish.

0:28:060:28:09

Let me try it.

0:28:090:28:11

Ooh!

0:28:130:28:14

Clearly this is very ripe,

0:28:140:28:16

but there's a bit of that acidity, citrus flavour,

0:28:160:28:19

that you only tend to get in the Cavendish when they're pretty unripe

0:28:190:28:23

and your challenge is to get all the good stuff

0:28:230:28:26

out of this one, into the Cavendish.

0:28:260:28:28

Yes, so we want to transfer the useful disease resistance

0:28:280:28:32

into the Cavendish variety

0:28:320:28:34

so we can continue to enjoy our favourite fruit.

0:28:340:28:37

Over a century and a half ago, when the Duke and his guests

0:28:390:28:42

first dined on the Cavendish banana,

0:28:420:28:44

it was probably beyond the imagination that this rare,

0:28:440:28:47

and most luxurious of fruits,

0:28:470:28:49

would become so popular around the world.

0:28:490:28:52

This apparently, is the polite way to eat one.

0:28:520:28:56

And I'm sure that the Duke and Paxton

0:28:560:28:59

would be urging on the researchers to do everything they could

0:28:590:29:02

to save their treasured banana.

0:29:020:29:04

Jay Rayner, there, fearlessly eating his way round Britain,

0:29:060:29:09

in service of The One Show.

0:29:090:29:11

Well, that's it from us here in Belfast. See you soon.

0:29:110:29:14

BOTH: Bye!

0:29:140:29:15

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:29:150:29:17