Back in Time for the Weekend: Series 1 Like many modern families, the Ashby-Hawkins home is stuffed full of tablets, computers, phones and gadgets to distract them in their spare time. But for one summer, they agreed to give up all their 21st-century technology and travel back in time to discover the radical transformation of our leisure time since 1950. The family’s own home becomes their time machine as they are transported back to a different decade each week. Guided by presenters Giles Coren and social historian Polly Russell, the family’s entire experience is underpinned by the Family Expenditure Survey, a government study which ran from the 50s right through to 1999. The survey’s detailed spending records give us the best possible clue as to what families were doing with their leisure time across the five decades.
In the first episode, dad Rob finds out that he’s expected to be handy with a tool kit, while mum Steph comes to terms with all the washing, cooking and cleaning expected of a 1950s housewife. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Daisy learns ballroom dancing courtesy of Angela Rippon, and 12-year-old Seth discovers the great outdoors.
The Ashby-Hawkins family sample life in the 1960s and with more money to go around, there’s more fun to be had, including a trip to the seaside, a Dansette record player for 16-year-old Daisy and even their own Mini to enjoy. Dad Rob and son Seth take on football legend Trevor Brooking for a game of Subbuteo in the dining room, and Daisy and mum Steph meet Sandie Shaw to discover how the decade’s daring fashions reflected the growing freedoms and confidence enjoyed by the younger generation.
The family strut into the 1970s and soon discover there were unexpected upsides to the economic and political turmoil the decade is often remembered for. Rob and Steph share more time together, playing darts with Eric Bristow and taking on some period appropriate home improvement. Meanwhile, daughter Daisy lets her hair down at a roller disco with DJ Trevor Nelson, and the family receive a visit from Top Gear’s original presenter, Angela Rippon.
The Ashby-Hawkins family embrace the 1980s, where TV and shopping dominated the UK’s leisure time. It’s also the decade where technology arrives in homes in a significant way. Kids Daisy and Seth are thrilled by the new VCR and home computer, and there’s even a pager for mum Steph who’s now a shoulder padded businesswoman. When dad Rob is not trying out the kids’ CB radio, he’s going shopping for a Don Johnson makeover with fashion guru Caryn Franklin.
The Ashby-Hawkins family enters the 1990s, a decade where new technology starts to dominate their leisure time. Twelve year-old Seth finally gets his hands on a Game Boy and games console, while the arrival of the internet and a mobile phone marks the start of how many spend their spare time now. Steph and Rob try out line-dancing, and fitness star Mr Motivator puts them through their paces. Tommy Walsh and Linda Barker also turn up to help the family give the house and garden a 90s makeover
The family discovers what the future might hold for people’s free time. As they reflect on their time-travelling experience, they also reveal how living in the past has changed, how they feel about the present and their hopes for the future. The family have some robotic housework help, and Steph and Rob try a futuristic gym fad, `Immersive Fitness’. Meanwhile, Seth embraces some cutting-edge technology that takes him away from using screens, and Daisy tries a new-age camera that records her day without cutting her off from her friends.
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