BBC Filthy Cities
The Scratch and Sniff experience, April
Dan Snow is bringing the filthy histories of the world's
greatest cities to BBC Two, in 'Filthy Cities', an immersive new
television series that will bring to life the stinking histories of
London, New York and Paris.
Dan will show how these modern capitals were forged in the dirt
of the past, emerging from filthy cities to become the iconic
modern metropolises we know today. He will step into the shoes of
professionals such as the medieval muck-raker responsible for
clearing tonnes of excrement from London streets; the pig handler
helping to clear the New York streets of waste; and the Parisian
undertaker, battling to cope with the human cost of a bloody
He will meet experts, asking them the questions that never make
it into the history books, and put the past to the test by mounting
a series of imaginative experiments and thought-provoking stunts to
demonstrate the key moments in the fight against filth.
Marrying historical accounts with modern science, and combining
ambitious reconstructions with CGI, Dan will build up a picture in
deliciously dirty detail of the making of three great capital
cities during a pivotal period of the past, and reveal the hidden
history behind the modern metropolis.
The Wellcome Trust and BBC have jointly produced a
'Scratch-and-Sniff' experience to accompany the 'Filthy Cities'
series and our Dirt Season. Armed with your scratch-and-sniff card,
you can watch four short films via the red button on your TV
remote or via the Filthy Cities
website and you will be transported into the sights and smells
of history's filthiest cities with Dan Snow.
Cards will be distributed through BBC magazines, libraries and
Dirt Season events at Wellcome Collection and elsewhere.
Episode one: Medieval London
The City of London is 2000 years old. Every street, every square is
built on layer upon layer of history. But London has a hidden past,
a filthy secret. This is the story of how 700 years ago the dirt,
squalor and disease reached such catastrophic proportions that the
medieval authorities would be forced to clean up their act. From
the fetid streets of 14th-century London, a new civic pride and
spirit of collective cooperation would help a new and cleaner
Episode two: Revolutionary Paris
Just 200 years ago Paris was famously one of the foulest and
smelliest cities in Europe. Wading through human and animal filth
to slave in toxic industries, ordinary Parisians suffered grotesque
poverty, sickness and starvation. But after generations of
injustice it wasn’t just the conditions that were revolting. Left
to drown in their own muck, the citizens of Paris became a mass of
filthy discontent, intent on having the King's head.
Episode three: Industrial New York
Almost a million people arrived in Manhattan in the first half of
the 19th century from all over Europe. Fleeing persecution, poverty
and famine, they came in search of the promised land, what they
found was even worse than what they left behind. The Big Apple was
rotten to its very core. This is the story of how in fewer than 50
years New York exploded from a country town into a festering
metropolis and how a leading global city emerged from this filthy