The Ellis family reflects on their time-travel adventure and explores how the legacy of 100 years of tumultuous history lives on in the northern diet today.
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Meet the Ellis family.
For one summer, this Bradford family of five went on a time-travelling adventure...
..discovering how changing food eaten in the north of England...
That is Scouse.
..revealed what life was like...
I think perhaps I do need to work on my frying technique!
..for working-class families over the last century.
I think it's just potato pie.
I think so.
From regional classics...
Pan haggerty for tea.
We'll have two chip naans.
..to dishes which expanded our horizons.
I'm so happy. Honestly, this is, like, amazing.
The Ellises' own home was their time machine,
transporting them to a different era each week.
The family experienced the ups and downs...
What the heck is tripe?
This is so hard!
..as they fast-forwarded through 100 years of northern history...
..and still got Back In Time For Tea.
The Ellises and their home have returned to the present-day.
I'm back with social historian Polly Russell to see their house for the
first time in the 21st century.
Whoa! Gosh, it looks big, doesn't it?
It's doubled in size, hasn't it?
Yeah. We left them in 1999,
with quite a few clashing man-made fibres going on,
clothing and furniture, so it will be nice to see what the Ellises...
-how they really live in modern day.
-Shall we go and see?
-Yeah, I'm excited.
Oh, Polly, look, it's lovely.
Ooh! It's plush, isn't it?
It's really plush.
Over the course of the experiment, the Ellises' home saw many changes,
beginning with the sparse furnishing of 1918...
It's not very cosy, is it?
..to all mod cons.
Wow! There's a subtle pattern, if you look closely at the wallpaper.
But whichever decade they were in,
one room was always the hub of family life.
It looks like somewhere you might actually want to spend some time.
Oh, Polly, it's beautiful.
I didn't know you could get so many shades of beige.
In the 21st century,
the Ellises' extended kitchen is still the heart of the home.
-Oh, it's nice, isn't it? Oh!
I mean, I know and totally understand how Lesley longed for her kitchen so much,
when she was just in here with, like, the meat safe.
She had her meat safe.
And something that's remained constant,
although the kitchen has changed so dramatically, in terms of, kind of,
space and decor and technology, is the kitchen table, you know,
still at the heart of family life.
-And there's always this kind of anxiety that, you know,
families aren't eating together any more, and, you know,
this is kind of the crisis of the family.
Actually, there isn't really statistical evidence to prove that.
Every evening, we eat our tea together, the kids, around the table.
-It is lovely, because it feels like you can just all connect
and chat, and I can shout at my children, and nag at them to eat properly.
I mean, one significant change is that they've got their television
in the kitchen. You wouldn't have seen that 30 years ago,
and so this kind of eating with screens, whether it's, you know,
your phone, or the television, you know, that's becoming a sort of norm,
about two thirds of us do that routinely.
I must admit, though, the kids aren't too bad with that,
it's my husband I tell off, if I'm really honest, more than the kids.
Today, Lesley has a whole plethora of gadgets,
flavours and foods at her fingertips.
Look at Lesley's spice rack, it's like around the world in 80 spices.
I mean, it feels like food has shifted from being just fuel to, like, almost being a hobby.
Yeah, I think you're absolutely right,
because the struggle for working families has been about,
how do we get enough food on the table to feed the family?
How do we, you know, sustain the working body?
We haven't got enough food to go around.
For the rich, for the middle-class, for people with servants,
food's always been about pleasure and leisure and entertaining,
but it's really relatively recently that there's been enough
surplus income that food has been inexpensive enough that working people have been
able to also engage in food as a hobby, and as a pleasure,
and as entertainment.
Food's not the only way the Ellises' life today is different from the families of previous generations.
The son of a painter and decorator, John is now a company director,
and was the first person in his family to go to university.
Daughter Caitlin is the second.
-Come in, the Ellises. You look amazing!
Wow! You look almost futuristic
cos I've not seen you in modern day, it's so strange.
-Is it nice to be back?
-It's definitely nice to be back.
I keep finding myself just sat here, like, looking at the kitchen or the living room,
like, just in awe because it's normal!
Lesley, how do you feel about getting your kitchen back?
I'm glad to have the kitchen back,
-I have to say.
-You're back in control, aren't you?
Yeah, it's my space, I know what I'm doing, I know where everything is,
I do find it's a lot easier.
Well, I can see you all having a little glance at these cloches in front of you.
We thought it could be nice as a bit of a surprise,
even though you're loving being back in the present day,
to take you on a magical culinary journey. Isn't that right, Polly?
Are you ready? So grab a cloche each.
-Three, two, one, voila!
This is your 100 years of time travel encapsulated in five plates.
It basically looks like the world's worst dinner party right now, doesn't it?
If you walked into someone's house and saw this, you'd be, like, "OK, let's get a takeaway."
So, shall we start here?
What is this, and when is it from?
-Do you guys remember?
-Is this lard?
I thought I saw the end of this.
It was a really emotional day, that particular day in 1931,
when I fed the children stale bread and lard,
because it's literally all that we had in the house.
Things are looking up, because here we have pilchards on toast.
Ugh, fish in tomato sauce?!
I really did not enjoy them.
But what an amazing jump to go from bread and lard to pilchards to then,
a decade later into the '60s, steak, chips and peas.
I mean, you can see in that plate that things must be getting better
for working families by the 1960s.
We've got a fridge, I told you!
Yay! We can have ice!
Weetabix, Coco Pops, spaghetti!
This honestly looks amazing.
This is like some next level gourmet stuff.
You need to open your own restaurant, woman.
Things felt good in the '60s and '70s.
What is it?
We felt like things were changing for us as a working class family.
But the good times weren't set to last.
One of the things about being a working-class northerner was you never know
which way their scales are going to tip.
As the Ellises discovered...
Oh! That's grim.
..nothing reflects your family's fortunes more than what's in your larder.
I can't believe how empty it is.
We were just so dependent on what was going on economically
and politically at the time that we had no real control over our lives,
that's how it felt.
There are real fluctuations for working families throughout this
whole period of time that you've experienced, real ups and downs.
Things are precarious, things can be difficult, and you, sort of,
lived that, through the diet.
It wasn't just what was affordable that affected what the Ellises ate -
the people and places around them had an impact, too.
We are going to be having onion and bacon roly-poly.
Food was very simple, very plain, very beige.
I think it clearly reflected the status that we had.
Um... There was very little vibrancy and colour,
and it was almost like a black and white existence,
and I think that probably reflected our lives at the time.
100 years ago,
our exposure to flavour didn't reach far beyond our doorstep.
So we've got thyme and rosemary and sage, so it will all be, kind of,
the local ingredients.
When you look back, I missed having foods from other places,
I missed the spices.
To begin with, it did get boring, and we did get hungry,
because we didn't like it, so we didn't really eat that much of it.
Freya, you want a bit more, don't you?
The food was really bland, and, like, just grim.
It could genuinely be dog food.
But new flavours were on the horizon.
In the '60s, services like Dial-a-Recipe encouraged housewives to expand their repertoire.
It's reading out a menu.
Go on. Quick, quick, quick!
It's already listed everything!
-Well, what did it list?
-I can't remember!
While the arrival of Chinese communities brought new dishes to try.
-Enjoy your meal.
-Thank you, we will.
The outside world was arriving on our plates.
Going to the Chinese restaurant, I was so, so, so excited.
Me and Freya were giddy.
That's really nice.
The flavours really came through,
especially after we were eating such plain food.
We really noticed how flavoursome it was.
In a way, we've still got English food, like,
we've got the bread and butter,
but this is definitely different to what we've been eating, prior to this.
Factory workers arriving from the Indian subcontinent were also
spicing up our tea times, and by the late '70s,
going out for a curry or the Chinese had become the norm.
I think it took a while for us northerners
to really embrace new foods.
-Are you feeling the heat?
And the tank top as well...
-Hiya, you all right?
-Hi, I think you we'll two chip naans.
By the '90s,
our familiarity with new foods and flavours inspired unique forms
of fusion cuisine to tickle our taste buds.
I loved to see this diversity emerge.
There's times when them foods haven't been there,
and they're such a massive part of life today,
because we live in such a multicultural country, I guess.
-Thank you very much.
This is really nice.
After doing this experiment, after living through these eras,
you kind of felt like the world of food was opening up.
And our tastes are still shifting.
Manchester's famous curry mile was once home to 70 Indian restaurants.
Today, it's down to only eight, with Lebanese,
Turkish and East African outlets reflecting the change in local population.
I've sent Polly and the girls there to discover what this shift tells us
about our increasingly adventurous appetites.
Shall we go and find some delicious food?
-You don't have to ask me twice!
-I'm Haz, lovely to meet you.
Shall we go find ourselves a table?
Haz Arshad's family have been serving Indian and Pakistani food here since the '90s.
Haz, why is it that there are so few Indian restaurants now on Curry Mile?
So, I think there's a number of different factors.
I think everything has its golden age,
and I think the 1990s certainly was for a certain era the Curry Mile.
It was a time when the older generation, basically, knew that curry, in its anglicised form,
would make a great source of revenue for the families, so, you know,
you had all these restaurants who were catering to a very Western market.
And then I think more recently there's been a kind of...
People have been travelling a lot more,
there's a lot more of a focus and interest in food,
provenance and diversity, you know,
different cultures bringing in different ideas,
and I think that the older generation just didn't want to innovate.
They felt that they had a good recipe that worked,
they didn't want to change it,
and they didn't really think that people had much of an appetite
for truly authentic Pakistani and Indian cuisine.
I mean, even me and Freya find that you've got to be careful where you go for curry.
Like, it's got to be well thought-out,
because there's some places that do, like, really, really creamy, creamy kormas,
like, which seem to be from, like, back in the '90s.
So, we look for, like, good restaurants, because we're from Bradford.
Even the students are discerning now.
-So, you know...
If we have fussy customers like this,
that's why we have to take it a step further.
It's my favourite food.
Bradford's got a great selection of restaurants,
for a similar reason, they had all of the textile mills there, as well.
And, to be fair, it started off in Bradford before it came to Manchester.
The popularity of flavour-packed meals like this reflect quite
how much the towns and cities of the north have transformed over the last 100 years.
It looks so amazing.
-That is just...
-It's like with every bite,
you get a different flavour coming through.
-Great, that's good to hear.
I mean, for me, it was very much a case of, if you don't change,
you won't survive in this industry,
because there are so many restaurants now opening in Manchester,
it's always great to do something a little bit different,
to kind of spark a little bit of interest, you know,
and get more people coming through the door.
Tastes might have moved on dramatically in the 21st century,
but there's one dish that's been a firm favourite for working families
throughout the ages.
And as if by magic! Hello!
So what we got, guys?
Do you think it's pie?
One of the weird things for me was the evolution of the pie.
This is really nice.
I think it's just potato pie.
-I think so.
-We started off with a plain potato pie,
meant to fill you up and provide you with energy.
You wouldn't be demanding with food, you'd just eat what you're given,
and you wouldn't really care, you'd just eat it to survive.
In the '40s, the worker's favourite became a ration-friendly tea
for the Ellises, made with potato pastry and a frugal filling.
What is it?
Cow heel pie.
It's got cow heel in it?
Cow heel pie, at first you're, like, you didn't want it to taste nice,
but then it did, and it kind of give you a warm feeling.
It tasted pretty good.
I love pie, I love pastry, I love that gravy,
so I like it.
Steak and kidney pie, I'm all for that.
Next, the pie got a space age makeover, coming ready-made in a tin.
I think in the '60s, we saw quite a change.
There was quite a bit of innovation in food in the '60s, we found,
and some of it worked, some of it didn't!
Oh, that one's burnt.
And after a spot of Northern Soul shape-shifting in the '70s,
I introduced the girls to my favourite way of enjoying the pie as a grab-and-go snack.
Come on, girls. Oh, my gosh, it smells amazing!
It's a Wigan Kebab.
So it's a pie, only one way to improve a pie, though,
how can you improve a pie?
You put it in a barm cake.
I have never seen anything like this before.
It's just so bizarre, like, you've got all these different pies.
I guess it's still to fill you up,
but then it's more about taste and enjoying it.
Savoury, sweet, hot or cold,
we Brits now spend around £1 billion on pies every year...
..yet with the number of takeaway options growing,
the northern favourite has had to fight to hold on to its popularity.
The girls are in Blackburn, to meet mother of five Zainab Bilal,
who is putting a fast-food twist on the traditional classic.
Come on in, welcome!
So, this machine is a simple blocking machine,
and anybody who makes pies would use this,
so, if they wanted a little bit of help to make it faster...
I mean, traditionally, you can make them by hand,
but this one makes it a lot easier, and it makes them all standard, they're all the same.
So we're going to get started on making our burger pies today.
Whoa, it's got a burger in it?
It's going to have a burger in it!
Having launched her cottage industry only a year ago,
today Zainab shifts between 1,000 and 2,000 pies every week,
selling to local punters, businesses and pie connoisseurs across the country.
As a pie enthusiast, which I believe myself to be,
because I love eating pie...
That's fabulous, Caitlin!
A burger pie is, sort of, a unique sort of flavour.
It's a modern twist on a British classic dish.
We have some really quirky ones.
We even do pizza pie, and lasagne pie, and we want to get quirkier,
because I think the people that order it,
our customers that are ordering them,
are going for these unusual flavours.
Oh, these are going to be so nice.
Well, I don't know, we did make 'em!
By the end of the decade,
it's predicted time-poor Brits will spend around £8 billion a year
It makes it look so neat.
All right, OK, so we're just going to set the timer going.
And now all you have to do is wait.
It's just nice to know that the pie has gone through this journey with us.
-Like, we've had pie the whole way through,
and I feel like pie's never going to go out of fashion any time soon, is it?
The flavours have definitely all changed, and they've all evolved,
but everybody still likes a good pie.
Oh, wow, they look really good!
What do you think of it?
Oh, it tastes really good.
And when you have a burger, it falls out of the bread,
whereas when you've got a pie, it contains it, like.
Pies aren't the only tradition the Ellises have found worth holding on to during their time travels.
One of the real things that came out of the whole experience,
particularly in the early eras, was the sense of community.
Forced to clear out their house and cupboards after a government means test,
it was the family's neighbours who helped sweeten the pill.
Heard you had a visit from Old Nosy.
Rotten. Hope this slice of means test pudding heartens you a bit.
That's friendship for you.
Yeah, you'll never keep a northerner down.
And as the Ellises discovered,
good neighbours weren't just there for the bad times.
the Coronation saw communities across the nation pool resources
to put on a spread fit for a Queen.
Where shall I put them?
Anywhere where there's space.
That was the first time I think I associated food with fun and friends,
and a social setting.
Oh, it's been lovely, I've loved it.
I think the Queen should get crowned every day!
The day-to-day grind of working lives was often lifted by those sharing the same street,
the same jobs, and even the same food.
Our neighbours would have been our friends, our colleagues,
our support network.
They came together in the good times, and the bad.
During the strikes of the 1980s,
it was food parcels sent by Russian and French miners
that helped put food on the Ellises' plates.
-Hello, Mrs Ellis.
We know you're going through hard times at the moment,
so we thought this might help you out.
Thank you so much!
It's got to a time now where the sense of community doesn't feel as strong
in the modern day as it did so early on,
and I guess that's something I've missed.
These days, around half of us don't know our neighbours' names.
But the power of the community is coming back.
Lesley and I are off to a small bakery in Liverpool,
which is using food to try and reinject a sense of belonging into their local neighbourhood.
-Oh, good morning.
Hi, you must be Sue and Luca, I'm Sara, this is Lesley,
we're here for our first shift.
OK, and your first job is, apron, gloves.
Chef Luca and volunteer Sue are part of today's team,
making bread before the customers arrive.
OK, so we are ready now to knead the dough, the bread, OK,
so we have to do this for ten, 20 minutes.
This is the fun bit, though, isn't it?
Yeah, exactly, that's the proper way, you know.
Any anger or frustrations with John or with the kids...
So, Sue, do you remember this bakery when you were a little girl?
-Do you remember coming here?
-Yeah, I do remember coming here.
It was a big part of the community.
I think this is where you went every single day,
and this is where you met your neighbours.
This is where you talked.
This is where you made a community, basically.
But, sadly, six years ago, it closed.
For the residents, the heart of their community was gone, and for a year, the bakery's ovens were cold.
So, we're stood here today, while I make hard work of this bread,
so this bakery obviously reopened.
How did that happen, what happened?
Well, it started off as an arts project, so we had lots of meetings here,
and while we were having the meetings, people would come in and say,
"Are you opening this as a bakery again?"
-And we said, "No, no, we're not, we're not," and then, eventually, we thought, "Why not?"
So, this is a community bakery, it's not-for-profit.
And also gives a bit of power back to the people, to the local people.
Very much so.
Since reopening in October 2013, the bakery has expanded into a cafe,
a pie shop, and a training hub for the locals.
So, what are the plans, what happens next?
We want to be an integral part of what is happening in this high street.
So, the council have got the plans of what they want to do to build businesses back into the area,
and we believe that we have set a precedent, really.
I can see it's starting to come up.
There's hope, optimism, and I thought, "I want to be part of that.
"I want to be there when it becomes a community again."
It seems the community spirit the Ellis family enjoyed in the past is
still alive and kicking, and just as desirable today.
Oh, it's gorgeous.
I like the hot butter.
At the heart of the bakery is a staple that the Ellises became only
too familiar with over their 100 years of time travel.
They're going to be eating bread all the time.
I've got some bread.
I'll check if there's any jam.
-I doubt it.
-There's no jam.
No jam. I've no jam, I'm guessing, from that reaction, Harvey.
This is a bad, bad day.
I think what made up our diet was bread.
I feel like I'm going to break a tooth eating this bread.
Every era we had bread.
You can smell it burning, Leslie.
Johnny! It is not burning.
It's just bread and bread and bread.
You start off with it just because it's a really easy thing to consume
and a really easy thing to keep.
But then you get to the '70s, even '80s and '90s,
where you're just having bread on the side,
just cos you feel like having bread and butter with your tea.
It were weird to see that bread has gone from being a meal
to bread being a side of a meal.
While bread wasn't always popular on the Ellises' tea table,
another staple of working class diets
never failed to hit the sweet spot.
# Oh, honey honey... #
And there was no-one more receptive to its charms than the younger members of the family.
Whether you earnt your pennies down t'mill or you were starting to get
a bit of pocket money, kids like Harvey would really try to tantalise and tickle their taste buds.
Look what we've got, kids!
Hey, guys, look what we've got.
When the Ellises started the experiment
treats like candyfloss were very much for special occasions.
In our normal lives,
my mum's a very big health freak and we don't tend to have sugary stuff in the house.
I'm not going to lie, I did enjoy it,
cos we don't get it in modern day.
Higher wages and mass-produced sweets meant much more choice for kids like Harvey in the 1960s.
-Yeah, I know.
Words can't describe how happy I were when them sweets came in the little box. I went crazy.
Even before I ate the sugar.
And by the '70s, manufacturers were cottoning on to kids as influential customers...
Please can I have dandelion and burdock?
-..delivering Harvey's sugar hit right to his doorstep.
Kids in the '70s, they had a powerful voice.
By the '80s, food producers were developing the weird and the wonderful,
to keep attracting kids to their brands.
Look! It's rock solid!
I do not want to know what's in this to make it do that.
Me doing chores in modern day,
I get a bit of money at the end of the month and I feel like kids still
have power over sweets.
Over the last 40 years,
pocket money has outpaced wage growth in the UK by 255%,
making children a very lucrative market.
I've come to show Harvey the lengths modern manufacturers will go to
to convince them to part with their cash.
But will he be won over?
-Ah, hey, Mr Harvey.
-How are you?
-I'm all good.
-Yeah, are you good?
Thought you might want to play a game.
It involves eating, which is good.
-Are you ready?
So, you spin,
and whichever one you land on, you've got to get that colour of bean,
yeah, the little jellybean?
And it could taste of buttered popcorn...
or rotten egg.
I remember, when I was little, like, you must have had popping candy?
-That's a similarish thing, isn't it?
-Trying to make something a bit of an experience as well as just the flavour.
-And, like, gobstoppers...
-There used to be ones called Little Devils, I think,
which were red ones, and they were really spicy.
-See if you...
-Yeah, we have them now. We have them, called jawbreakers.
-This will be good.
-OK, so I'm going to spin.
Oh, my worst!
-Or juicy pear.
No spitting out, no spitting out.
Oh... Oh, bogey...
No, don't spit it out, don't spit it out.
You have to keep it in.
There are now almost 400 sweet manufacturers in Britain.
Go on, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew.
They can't just rely on the old favourites to grab their share
of a lucrative £6 billion market.
Oh, it stinks!
Oh, my gosh, it...
It really... I really like you, Harvey, but you stink right now.
People who are making the sweets, the manufacturers, they know...
-They're after your pocket money.
They have to... And then they keep bringing out new sweets and new inventions like this.
They're trying to find new ways to make kids excited about sweets.
Because, when you think back to simple, like, some fruit gums or whatever,
or wine gums, and then to this...
-I mean, this is, this is Charlie And The Chocolate Factory sort of stuff, this, isn't it?
This is candy-tainment.
Have you been candy-tained?
Attracting kids' attention wasn't always so complicated.
Harvey Ellis, promising young lad.
Put a pig's bladder in front of him.
Is he going to score? Oh, no, he didn't!
-I saved it!
-No! There's only one Sara Cox!
And while a pig's bladder football might come for free,
with a few spare pennies, girls like Caitlin and Freya could enjoy an
escape from their working lives.
-Here, look at that.
We haven't seen any, like, chocolate up until now, have we?
Yeah. Aero! Can I have two Rolos, please?
-There was loads of things opening up, like cinemas and cafes,
and I think that influenced, like, the change of food as well,
because people were more prosperous and could afford to go out and do things.
As families became more affluent,
they found new and exciting ways to entertain themselves.
Welcome to Mr Bradford 1968.
I think we've all made memories that will last a lifetime doing this experiment.
Dad's getting scared.
We've had some cracking times.
From caravans to canal boats,
the options for days out and holidays got ever wider.
-Oh, my God!
Everybody knows we're coming now.
-Pressing that horn.
-That was so scary!
I nearly jumped in there!
Whatever the decade,
the chance to kick back provided a much-needed antidote to the grind of working life.
# We're the kids in America
# Whoa oh!
# We're the kids in America
# Whoa oh! #
Dining out together for the first time in the '80s,
the Ellises were reminded of just how far they'd come.
We've got the traditional 83 combo. Shall we put that one in front of you to start off with?
How are the ribs, Harvey?
I think it's been good. As a family, we've had a really good afternoon,
-It's the first thing we've done together without arguing.
That's an achievement in itself.
It was a far cry from their experience at the start of the experiment,
when life was dominated by work.
At the beginning of the 20th century,
the north of England was at the centre of industrial Britain.
Whole regions were characterised by single industries.
There was steel in Sheffield, shipbuilding in Liverpool,
while many people in Yorkshire earnt the crust at the local mill.
The more that I do, the more that I get paid,
so I'm just going to keep going.
I'm getting better at this.
I'm cottoning on.
With the school leaving age as young as 13,
Caitlin and Freya would have had to work alongside their parents in the 1920s and '30s.
I think it would be a very hard life. I don't know how they did it.
What this experiment has done for the children is allowed them to see
how lucky they are now.
If they'd been born in 1918, they would have had no options.
They would have just followed us into the mill.
This is so hard!
To me, I'm still like a child and I'm still in my childhood,
whereas then I wasn't. I was working.
I think a girl in 1919 didn't really get to have a lot of prospects,
cos they had hardly any career options.
Pretty much this or being, like, a housewife.
So, there weren't really any room for, like,
promotion or to go up anywhere.
You're sort of just stuck.
And it's really hard cos I think so many girls and women at that time probably felt trapped.
Even with the whole family earning a wage,
it was usually the men who felt the burden of bringing home the bacon.
I felt throughout every year really that, being the main breadwinner,
all the responsibility was on me.
And you never knew what was going to happen the next day, really.
You've got to hand it... How do you do this all day long?
It's really tough going but it does get easier.
Once you've done about ten years.
As the decades moved on,
changes in the work available saw the balance between men and women shift.
While heavy industries like coal,
steel and manufacturing faltered in the face of global competition...
..a growing public sector brought new opportunities for women like Lesley.
I feel like the '70s, it holds more promise for women like me.
I think I would have been really happy to have been a dinner lady.
And for teenage girls,
a typing course offered options beyond the gates of the mill or factory.
There must be an easier way to go down the page without doing this.
For me, as a woman, I've seen change.
I just thought I'd be doing the same thing all the way through and I haven't.
And you just see this build and build of opportunities and more things available to you.
The North isn't just an industrial place,
there's a lot more to it than that.
But while opportunities for women were opening up,
one of the biggest male employers in the area was under threat.
The miners' strike is two weeks old tonight,
and only 37 pits were open today.
In 1984 the longest strike in the nation's history
saw 137,000 miners on the picket line.
Industrial action by men like John directly affected life at home.
You may have noticed your car, sofa,
freezer and washing machine have disappeared.
Why don't you just get a job somewhere else?
It's not as easy as that, is it?
This stand has cost us a sofa!
Whilst the heavy industries rooted in the North struggled,
the service sector boomed.
There you go, Freya.
The jobs the Ellises were doing began to lose their regional identity.
Come and get your spuds!
Best in the North! Come on!
By the '90s,
men and women alike were making a living in very different ways to their grandparents.
Now, reflecting back,
I think the northerners have always had to constantly adapt,
and I think that is the same today.
Get your spuds! Best in the North! Come on!
But there are still some places in the North where the region's
traditional industries have weathered the storm.
I've sent John and Harvey to see how Hainsworth's woollen mill near Leeds
has survived in an era of global competition.
-Hiya, it's John.
-Hi, Rob, nice to meet you.
-Thank you. And Harvey.
-Harvey, hi, nice to meet you.
-Do you want to come and I'll show you the machines?
Over 200 years old, the mill now specialises in high-end textiles,
even making the material worn by the guards at Buckingham Palace.
What's kept us going as much as anything else is we're not the biggest
bulk manufacturer and we don't want to compete on the low-margin,
low-end stuff where you're churning out tens of thousands of metres.
What we specialise in is much more technical.
And whilst mills like Hainsworth's may no longer dominate this region as they once did...
..upstairs, there's a local business taking their rich heritage one step further.
Nice to meet you.
-John. Hello. Hi, Harvey.
Since 2013, Rhian Kempadoo Millar has been redefining the traditional
Yorkshire flat cap, bringing it bang up-to-date.
This is a design that you can plug into your iPhone.
You look like Little Bo Peep, like a cool Little Bo Peep.
What, jamming down the street to your...
At the start of the 20th century,
hat making in the North was big business.
Towns like Denton near Manchester were producing over 100,000 hats a week in the 1930s,
and no self-respecting northern man would leave home without one.
But once manufacturers started to be able to make them for less overseas,
northern hat making all but disappeared.
Today, Rhian's modern designs are tapping into this legacy,
to reach a new global audience.
I think they've got a bit of a bad rap in Yorkshire,
so, people in Yorkshire don't wear them cos they don't want to be
-stereotyped, you know, flat cap and whippet...
But you go to London or New York or LA or, you know, China, Japan,
loads of people wear them.
They wear them more like a baseball cap. I wore a lot of flat caps.
I used to wear a lot of my dad's hats, and when I started checking all the labels of, like,
my hats and my friends' hats, everything was made in China.
But Yorkshire used to be the home of flat cap making.
-And then a lot of them shut down, sort of, ten, 20 years ago.
It mustn't be cost-effective to make them in Yorkshire versus China,
so, how come we are still making...?
Cos, I think, again, like I am saying about tradition and heritage coming back round again,
I think it's the same with provenance.
People want to know where things are made, and the quickest way,
the easiest way for me to know how something's made is to drive 15 minutes
to the manufacturer and go and have a cup of tea...
-..and see it being made, you know?
And you can't do that if it's on the other side of the world.
Is it quite helpful, you being based here?
Yeah, it's been invaluable, I would say.
Just being in a mill, you know, of this calibre,
you get access to things like their...
what you would call offcuts or something, you know.
A piece like this which might be a colour sample that they did that they don't use.
But for me that's potentially 24 peaks underneath,
and so that's a whole range.
So, for them it's a product,
and they can say it's Hainsworth's fabrics and it's quite contemporary.
So, I think it's been a great partnership.
So, do we put a label on this saying "Made in Yorkshire", then?
-It does say "Made in Yorkshire". Look.
-It says it there.
Brilliant. So, which one are you choosing, Harvey?
-I choose this one.
-Go for the blue.
I'm going to go for this one, I think.
The heritage of the North has left a reputation that businesses like Rhian's can exploit.
-Good, that, isn't it?
At the start of the experiment,
food as much as fashion was often defined by where you lived.
Looks like a pancake to me.
I feel that in the early eras there was definitely more regionality to our diets.
We're from Yorkshire, but we were eating food we'd never heard of.
This is Whitby polony.
What's that? Never seen anything like this before.
I don't like the look of it.
Pan haggerty for tea.
It's good to be home, and to have a hot meal like this.
That was really interesting -
picking out these regional dishes that were alien to us.
I think the food and the way that I've lived through all this experience
has brought me closer to where my roots are.
Doorstep sandwich, that's exactly we want.
-Oh, God, dripping.
-Better than dripping.
Well, I'm going to break it in half, then.
Aye, break it in half, right.
Seeing as you're gaffer, you can have t'big bit.
You're a star.
By the later decades,
the Ellises saw convenience food take over from the more regional tea-time classics.
So, since you're such an expert, then, I'll leave you to do this bit.
I think the convenience food helped Mum quite a lot,
because she had to do a lot less work and it was a lot less hours in the kitchen.
The convenience food revolution is well and truly in swing.
I think she liked it because of that, but she didn't like the food itself.
In the '90s,
big national supermarkets were selling the same quick and easy tea-time meals.
That's the chips done.
I do think as the eras went on
and I guess the whole country was eating the generic foods
that came in the tins and the packs and the freezer,
I felt a little bit sad about that.
We lost some of that regionality, definitely.
But there was one regional dish the Ellises were very glad to see the back of.
What is that?
Kind of. Without the fish.
-But with tripe?
Oh, the tripe!
This used to be a weekly dish?
Whoever decided to eat the lining of a cow's stomach...
Is it that bad?
If Mum doesn't like it, you know it's bad.
I'm going to have nightmares about this tripe.
The smell was off-putting enough, even without the taste.
I'm going to be sick.
You all right?
This is bad.
Tripe was awful.
The texture of it, the taste of it.
Who would want to eat that?
-I'm still chewing!
Let's be realistic, there's no way to make tripe taste good.
Like, at all.
For better or worse,
the Ellis family threw themselves wholeheartedly into 100 years of
northern working-class food.
So, to help create a final celebratory meal for them,
I've come to Hebden Bridge to meet Chef Rob Owen Brown.
Originally from Manchester,
Rob's built his reputation on reinventing regional northern classics for the 21st century.
First thing on the menu today - yup, you guessed it...
Don't know if I should shake your hand...
-No, don't, I'm all tripey.
-That is tripe, then?
That is tripe. That's honeycomb tripe, that, Sara.
Do you use a lot of tripe in your cooking normally, at your restaurant?
Yeah, I think we... You know, it's one of those northern classics, isn't it?
And it's about bringing it back and showing people different ways of eating it.
Rob, the family tried tripe in 1919 and they hated it.
We're not going to tell them it's tripe, are we?
No, we're going to call it Yorkshire coral.
Oh, OK. So, yeah, it does look corally, doesn't it?
I've done a little menu. So...
-I love the menu.
OK, so we've got... So, Yorkshire coral...
-Is there much flowing oceans and coral and...?
No, but there's a stream out there - we could pretend.
-Classic mutton with capers.
-And a not-so-classic Vimto trifle.
Tripe, as the Ellises discovered,
used to be a cheap everyday ingredient for working families across the North.
Nowadays, the rising price of meat means affordable ingredients like this are ripe for revival.
Today, Rob's deep-frying the tripe in breadcrumbs,
to see if we can smuggle it past the Ellis family.
Shall I make you taste this?
-Yeah, I want a bit.
Yeah, I want to have a go at this.
I think it's psychological, isn't it, with offal and things?
-It's all part of the animal, isn't it?
-It's all meat.
You know? I think it's down to tastes, I think it's down to textures.
I think if we were talking to your grandparents they wouldn't have a problem eating it.
It's only because people became a little bit more affluent...
-You know, and started being able to have a chicken every single day...
..that they sort of turned their back on those things.
That actually looks gorgeous.
You're right, aren't you? Deep fry something...
If you put some breadcrumbs on something, you know,
it's not the most chef-y thing in the world,
and it's not the most amazingly technical things in the world...
Now, you didn't cook that for long, did you?
What's that? About a minute?
Little bit of pepper.
I don't feel as gung ho as I did 30 seconds ago.
-Has your bottle gone?
-No, I'm going to have a go.
-Oh, it's gorgeous.
-It's good, that.
Second course is another of the restaurant's specialities,
using a meat the family sampled in the early part of their time travelling.
-Right, Rob, so...
All we're going to do is we're going to take the meat off the bone and
we're going to dice it into decent sized chunks - none of those mean,
little, horrible chunks, you know? We're making something quite robust.
OK, so you're going to make it into a stew?
It's a posh stew.
That's what we're doing.
While the mutton cooks,
we're moving on to a pud whose magic ingredient is from Rob's hometown of Manchester.
-Yeah, it's great, isn't it?
Oh, it smells amazing.
Yeah. A little trip down memory lane for you.
I think sense of smell is the most evocative sense, isn't it?
For just bringing back memories, just that rush of memories,
whether it's a bit of perfume or your favourite dish?
Although it does look like it's a fine wine!
-Oh, it doesn't swirl very well.
I'm getting essence of Manchester...
-Might be a bit of canal.
-A faint whiff of Salford docks?
I'm sitting by a gas fire, wrapped in a blanket...
My socks are soggy... It's Vimto.
Custard. Do I have to, like, do it really neat?
I'd prefer it if you did it really neat, but it's entirely up to you.
Or you could just pour it in.
It's all right, don't worry - we'll clean it up.
That's about right, isn't it?
Yeah, they're level-ish.
I'm just saying that one's mine, though.
An hour with a fire... Glass of wine...
I'm joining Polly and the family to celebrate the end of their century of northern tea-times.
Before we have some lovely food, I mean,
memories of your favourite food over the decades...
My favourite food were the Scotch beans.
-They were good.
Mine was the tripe. Oh, sorry, no!
Oh, starters are here. Right, this is delicious.
This is Yorkshire coral.
And it is fried in breadcrumbs.
It smells delicious, doesn't it?
It does, actually.
-Is it tripe?
-It is tripe.
-Is it actually?
-It's really tender, isn't it?
It's really tender.
If it's tripe, it tastes different.
So, Yorkshire coral, it's sometimes called Yorkshire calamari, which is...
tripe. What do you think, Leslie?
-I think it's all right.
-I think, now I know that it's tripe,
that tripe taste is really...
Do you know, before you said it I thought it was like some calamari or
something, or, like, chicken goujons.
It's much more appealing this way,
and you're more likely to eat it than...
Well, much more likely to eat it than when we had it.
If this had have been your very first experience of tripe,
do you think you'd have really liked it?
I really believe that I would have liked it.
What I find amazing is tastes have changed so much that we just think of offal as something
that we don't eat, but actually we've been eating it for generations, it was a big part of
the diet - it was so important to sustaining people.
But I wonder, like, can our tastes be, sort of,
re-educated about eating this?
Looking at you, I'm not feeling confident.
Next up is the mutton stew.
Oh, here you go.
Far removed in time and texture from the mutton chops the Ellises sampled in the '60s.
How do you cut this?
I'm going to break this plate.
It's like eating octopus.
Oh, look, it just falls apart as you start to cut it.
-This is nice. Very nice.
-That is delicious.
Just falls apart, doesn't it?
That is absolutely delicious.
It's so nice to be eating something that generations have been eating.
Has this whole experience made you think differently about how the
food we eat connects to the lives that we live?
Does it make you think about the people who've eaten this sort of food?
I loved that. Somebody could have been sat here,
eating this same food 100 years ago, from food that came not far away.
Yeah. Probably, like,
the ancestor of that sheep was up on that hill 100 years ago...
The great, great, great, great, great grandfather.
-No, the grandmaaaaa! Sorry.
Finally, adding some vim to the occasion, Rob's pud,
using a traditional ingredient the Ellises are all too familiar with.
It wouldn't be my pop of choice.
You like it then, Freya? Five sips later.
There's nothing like a good trifle.
-Oh, it's gorgeous.
-Well, a Vimto trifle.
Today's meal is a fitting celebration,
not only of the Ellises' monumental journey, but also of the North's unique heritage.
Has it made you feel proud about being northern, Freya?
I think it has, because before I didn't really take it into consideration that I was northern.
I think, when you're northern and you're in the North it's hard to be that aware that you're northern.
As soon as you leave the North...
you're fully northern.
I've definitely felt like a foreigner for this whole experiment.
-It's been very...
Have we not made you feel welcome?
-Very welcome, but I'm not from the North.
I'm not from the North.
-We've adopted you now.
-Yeah, we've adopted you now.
-You're now a northerner.
-So, now this whole experience is coming to an end,
and me and Polly are going to leave you in peace,
what have you enjoyed the most, do you think?
I think one of the things that I've really liked about it all is the
industry that we've been involved in - in the mines...
It jerks a bit. Just beware. It jerks a bit at the start.
Making me feel nervous now!
-Yeah, that's it.
-In the mills...
It's pretty tough. It's hot.
And it was obviously prominent in the North,
so, the history side of it has been really interesting,
-all the way through.
-It's a story we don't often hear.
I think that's the thing - we do, we hear about history,
we read about history and we watch history on TV,
but we don't often hear OUR history, our northern heritage,
and that's been really interesting.
I think we should raise a toast to the Ellis family, shouldn't we, Polly?
-For being such amazing sports and throwing yourself into this
experience. And so I think we should do a toast to...
What shall we toast to, to the last 100 years, to the last century?
-OK, then. Cheers.
-To the last century.
Doing this experiment,
looking at it now I feel like I take a lot of stuff for granted.
In modern day, it's changed the way I have looked upon food that I love.
I definitely think the food we've eaten reflects how far we've come.
It makes me feel warm and happy inside.
It's like eating a rainbow full of sparkles.
You don't realise how much it's changed until it's all there
in front of you and you're actively thinking about it.
It's been kind of empowering.
You're given that push to step out of your comfort zone and be in your ancestors' shoes.
-Oh, my God!
I'm definitely optimistic for the future of the North.
It's gone through change and it's still going through change
and it will for many years to come, I suppose.
And I just hope, going forward, that it continues to develop and thrive,
because I'd like to see that for my children.
What I do know is that people of the North have always been adaptable.
They've always managed to overcome difficulties and come out on top,
and that's what I hope will continue.
It's really easy to think that the changes that have happened to the North
over the past century are now just part of history and not related at all to our modern day lives.
But what the Ellises' journey has shown us is that our roots and our past
leave a big imprint on us now, on the food we eat, on the work we do,
even on our leisure time.
And what's really exciting is that the North is still reinventing itself today.
The Ellis family from Bradford embark on an extraordinary time-travelling adventure to discover how a transformation in food eaten in the north of England can reveal how life has changed for northern working-class families over the past 100 years.
The family's own home is their time machine, transporting them through a different era each week - from the sparse furnishings and meagre provisions of 1918 to the modern home comforts and bulging freezer of 1999.
Guided through their time travel by Bolton-born presenter Sara Cox and social historian Polly Russell, everything the family of five experience - from the jobs they do to the food they eat - is based on historical data and spending surveys of the era.
In this final episode of the series, the family reflects on their time-travel adventure and explores how the legacy of 100 years of tumultuous history lives on in the northern diet today. Lesley and Sara visit a Liverpool bakery using the humble loaf to rebuild a shattered community, and sisters Caitlin and Freya explore how recent changes on Manchester's Curry Mile show the evolving relationship with flavour.
After seeing kids increasingly targeted by food manufacturers over the eras, Harvey and Sara find out just how far novelty foods have come with a modern game that requires a very strong stomach. Jon heads back to the mill to show Harvey how Yokshire's textile heritage has used its specialisms to survive the decline of the industry. They explore how the stereotype of the Yorkshireman in flat cap has been given a modern and hugely successful twist by local hat designer Rhian Kempadoo Millar.
The girls travel to Blackburn to meet Zainab Bilal, a one-woman pie business who is combining the modern love of easy fast food with this age-old favourite. Caitlin and Freya help her make a batch of 'burger pies' to explore just what it is that has made the humble pie such a winner for working families throughout history.
Finally, Sara and northern chef Rob Owen Brown prepare a celebration meal for the family using cuts of meat and nostalgic flavours the family might have turned their noses up at in the past. Sara then joins Polly and the family to raise a glass to the modern legacy of the north's culinary history.