Coal House, BBC2

by | Nov 5, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Three Welsh families volunteer to spend three weeks living the working class life of 1927. The Griffiths, Cartwrights and Phillips go back 80 years to a time of chamber pots, mangles and back-breaking labour. Unlike the contrived set-ups of Big Brother et al, this was an informative, educational and true to life reflection of the sort of life our great-grandparents (Ada and Cyril had to endure.

What was good about it?

• You could see why some of the stereotypes of the Welsh had arisen. Mine owners and ministers encouraged the formation of choirs as a means of keeping the men on the straight and narrow and fostering community relations. We were treated to a stirring rendition of Cwm Rhondda.

• Steph Phillips’ realisation of the deprivations that previous generations had gone through and the fantastically privileged position that most of the UK was in today.

• Seeing the men digging out coal seams with only a pickaxe for an eight-hour shift brought home to us that spending a few hours on the computer is a much easier way of earning a living. And they had a 90-minute walk before they got to work. It’s no wonder life expectancy was so poor.

• Debra Griffiths’ birthday party. Home-made presents and the three families having a sing-along brought a tear to her eye.

What was bad about it?

• Poor old Gethin Griffiths. Sickness, diarrhoea and chicken pox isn’t a lot of fun when you’ve got a Playstation or computer to distract you. Being stuck in a freezing cold house with absolutely no treats whatsoever must have been torture for the lad. He had to be taken to the local hospital for a course of antibiotics – something that would have been unlikely to happen in 1927. The narrator pointed put that even minor ailments like chicken pox could lead to potentially fatal secondary infections and decimate communities.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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