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Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home

Wed Apr 3, 9-10pm, BBC4

The phrase ‘safe as houses’ may have come into being in the nineteenth century, but were they? Like absolute bloody heck they were. Amid a boom for furnishings and interior decor – kickstarted by the Great Exhibition and prompted by prominent thinkers like John Ruskin (who even viewed taste as a moral force), it seems that every step taken by the average Victorian towards improving their domiciles took them one step closer to death.

As the title suggests, there’s a degree of ‘Watchdog’-esque sensationalism to Dr Suzannah Lipscomb’s hour-long programme – certainly more than we’re used to in most BBC4 docs, anyway. But there are also plenty of well-presented facts – on how arsenic-laced wallpaper made the living room a toxic hellhole, how corsets would make women’s livers slowly ridged like a Toblerone or how gas cookers and electric lightbulbs would make for unhappy roommates.