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Jay Blades: East End Through Time | Preview (Channel 5)

In the first episode of this three-part series, Jay Blades returns to his beloved East End to uncover its fascinating history.

He starts where London’s East End begins: by the Roman city wall, to hear how East of the wall became a place for “outsiders” in the 1500s, where immoral or forbidden activities would take place like gambling and bear baiting.

Jay is taken into the underbelly of a Shoreditch building site with a difference by archeologist Heather Knight, and is shocked to discover that it was once where William Shakespeare performed, at the Curtain theatre, one of the world’s first playhouses which opened in 1577 right in the heart of the East End.

Heading to St Dunstan’s Church in Stepney, Jay discovers how the Great Plague in 1665 devastated the East End’s population due to poor living conditions, and is spooked by the fact that thousands of plague victim’s bodies still lie in the church’s grounds.

Jay dresses up as a dapper 18th century gentlemen as he learns how thousands of exiled French protestant Huguenots set up home in Spitalfields and became renowned for their beautiful silks and weaving skills.

Jay learns about the original Jack the Lad and first ever tabloid sensation, notorious criminal Jack Shephard. Famed for his daring escapes, he became as well-known as the King of England by the time he was hanged in 1724.

Jay jumps in the ring to practice a few boxing moves initiated by original East End champion Daniel Mendoza, who left an enduring legacy on the sport.

Jay turns his hand to a spot of mudlarking on the banks of the Thames with Lara Maiklem, and hears how widespread theft and piracy in the late 1700s provoked the foundation of the Thames River Police, an early incarnation of the Metropolitan police force.

Jay Blades: East End Through Time begins Tuesday 13th June at 9pm on Channel 5.


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