One of the biggest fantasies created by braindead left wing academics within living memory is "white privilege". And let us not forget "male privilege". One wonders if these people ever learned any real history at school. This short mini-series – which is about neither race nor sex – destroys these fantasies in one fell swoop. Today in Britain we have the welfare state; much maligned though it may be, what preceded it was far worse. The poor of these islands, the overwhelming majority of whom were poor through no fault of their own, could starve on the street, or enter the workhouse.
This institution was set up in the 1830s and lasted until the birth of the modern welfare state in 1948. (If you want to know what preceded it, you will need an even stronger stomach). Arguably the most famous workhouse inmate was the legendary silent film star Charlie Chaplin. Although Chaplin died in 1977, his granddaughter Kiera Chaplin (who was born in 1982) is one of the celebrities who appears in this short mini-series. They visit the former Lambeth workhouse where her grandfather lived – now a museum. The lady author Barbara Taylor Bradford discovers an even closer connection with the workhouse, her own mother was actually born in one, out of wedlock – a source of shame at that time. She also meets a woman who spent some time in the workhouse as a child. The second episode proves to be very emotional for the author when she makes some more personal discoveries, about her mother and grandmother.
Austere though it was, the workhouse was not a prison, and was the only place where the very poor could obtain proper medical treatment. The actor Brian Cox finds a shocking family tale relating to this; his ancestor was in and out of the workhouse regularly; finally he went insane.
Not all was doom and gloom though, all the celebrities appearing herein are living proof of that. The real privilege is the privilege we have today; the suffering of our ancestors was the price paid for it. The real lesson of this series is that we should never forget this, and should be eternally grateful for their sacrifice.
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