Take nine overweight people and sequester them for six weeks in a Victorian mansion under the guidance of the skinny and sanctimonious Sir Roy Strong, the kindly Matron (a registered nurse) and an even skinnier and more disapproving butler and what do you get? An interesting yet hilarious reality show.
The participants are divided into three groups and follow three different reducing diets: the Victorian diet consisting mainly of meat, the Edwardian diet that incorporates almost anything, as long as one chews each bite 32 times, and the Roaring 20s diet that is a modern low calorie diet (lots of celery sticks). The premise is that the diets are on trial, not the participants.
The first step is to get into period dress which, for the Victorian and Edwardian women, means tightly-laced corsets and long skirts; then it's on to diet and exercise.The group is joined by a movement and dance instructor and an ex-marathon runner who lead the participants through historically correct exercises, as well as an army sergeant who runs the men through drills to get them ready for war.
In one episode we see the beginning of the scouting movement when the whole gang goes on an overnight campout and demonstrate the difficuty of building and tending a campfire while wearing a hoop skirt. Another episode covers various methods of moving the bowels and we get an anatomy lesson that is illustrated by a table full of pigs insides.
The participants are a jolly lot with a modern lack of verbal inhibition and they laugh and joke and swear liberally, much to the disapproval of Sir Roy and the butler. Despite being as interesting and informative as any BBC viewer would hope, The Diets that Time Forgot made me laugh out loud.
I borrowed a DVD of the complete season from my local library. Maybe you can too.