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Cast

Series cast summary:
Stephen Noonan ...
 Himself - Narrator 6 episodes, 2009
Peter Ginn ...
 Himself - Presenter 6 episodes, 2009
Ruth Goodman ...
 Herself - Presenter 6 episodes, 2009
Alex Langlands ...
 Himself - Presenter 6 episodes, 2009
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victorian era | lifestyle | See All (2) »


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Release Date:

8 January 2009 (UK)  »

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£150,000 (estimated)
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(RCA Sound System)

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Followed by Edwardian Farm (2010) See more »

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NOT for those who care about animals
23 March 2011 | by See all my reviews

There have been plenty of reviews of "Victorian Farm", so I don't feel compelled to review it on its entire merits. But for the following matter, I'd gladly give the show a 9. But I just want to focus on one aspect of the show: the hypocrisy of the actors about the animals on the farm, which pulls their rating down to a 5.

Before anyone tries to excuse it with "yes, but they're just being historically accurate" -- I would suggest that they're not. I think that Victorian (and Edwardian, since the same thing afflicts "Edwardian Farm") farmers had a detachment from their "livestock" that Peter, Alex and Ruth don't share.

That is why it's very disconcerting to see them at first treating (for example) the lambs, piglets, calves and chicks with affection, and hear them praising their intelligence and personableness one day, and then being fine with killing, butchering and eating them another day.

Was this a reality in Victorian farms? Well, yes and no. Yes, most of the time. But the Victorian era was one of a burgeoning vegetarian movement. The Vegetarian Society was founded in Britain in 1847, early in Victoria's reign. By 1855, there were a thousand members in Britain. By the end of the century, still within Victoria's reign, it had over 5,000 members, and that doesn't count ALL vegetarians within Britain, just those who became members of one society. During the Victorian era such British luminaries as George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Charlotte Bronte and Mary Shelley were all vegetarians, so it's not like it was a novelty.

But there is something pathetically hypocritical about people demonstrating such affection for creatures -- to the point of naming them, petting them, and so on -- and then killing and eating them. If they carried on with a dog or cat the way that the cast of Victorian Farm do with their "livestock", no one would think it at all unusual. But if they killed, butchered and ate a cat or dog, 99.999% of their audience would be revulsed and outraged. How can a person feel like a pet guardian with a creature one day and kill and eat it the next? I seems to me that it would require a type of compartmentalization that would border on schizophrenia.

I don't have a solution for such shows. I don't think it's likely that the BBC is going to make a show called "Vegetarian Historic Farm". But at the same time, I cannot watch these "reality shows" without feeling a sense of disgust and disdain for the cast who are either killing animals against their ethics, or are outright mistreating them.


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