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Jay Blades: The Midlands Through Time | Preview (Channel 5)

Following the success of Jay Blades: East End Through Time, Jay presents a new series, exploring the extraordinary history of the West Midlands. The region has been good to him since he moved there in 2015 and now it’s payback time.

Jay sheds light on how much our country owes this often-overlooked part of England… it’s not just Cadbury chocolate, canals and Peaky Blinders.

Jay uncovers it’s the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the Olympic Games, the theory of evolution, and even the balti. In short, the history of the UK (even the world) would not be the same without the Midlands.

In the first episode, Jay takes us to his adoptive home, the West Midlands, to uncover its fascinating history. He starts by getting up close and personal with the Staffordshire Hoard; £3.3 million worth of Anglo-Saxon treasure that was unearthed in a farmer’s field near Lichfield thanks to a local metal detectorist.

Jay finds out that it was buried at a time when the Midlands was known as Mercia - one of the most important kingdoms in England. In a stable near Coventry, Jay discovers the truth behind the legend of Lady Godiva who supposedly rode a horse naked through 11th Century Coventry.

Heading to the Black Country, Jay finds out how the local dialect, although often mocked, is more important than we think. Peppered with words found in Chaucer poetry, it uses Anglo Saxon words that have otherwise been lost in modern English.

Jay hears about the 18th-century physician Erasmus Darwin whose grandson was none other than Charles Darwin. While Charles gets all the credit for being the father of the theory of evolution, his grandad turns out to have come up with the idea!

Erasmus Darwin was part of a society of great thinkers who met monthly to discuss ideas and inventions. Jay finds out about some of these so-called ‘Lunar Men’ and their complex relationship with the abolition of slavery.

Jay pays a visit to the Wedgwood factory to learn about Josiah Wedgwood, the potter who made Stoke-on-Trent renowned around the world. He has a go at the tricky task of adorning an ornate vase.

And finally, he heads to Ironbridge to hear the story of Abraham Darby I, a genius innovator who was the first to work out how to mass produce iron products – a technique that kick-started the Industrial Revolution!

Jay Blades: The Midlands Through Time begins Wednesday 11th October on Channel 5.

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