A modern family, the Bowler family, spent three months living like people at the beginning of the 20th century. There were the parents (Paul and Joyce) and their four children (three daughters and a son). The cameras recorded them every day. The house didn't have a telephone, a fridge, a TV set or even central heating. The Bowlers wore clothes from 1900 and ate the food that existed in England at that time. There wasn't much to choose from. The main dishes on the table were meat and fish, and the day usually started with a cup of tea and porridge.
The father of the family, Paul Bowler, still went to work but in an old-fashioned uniform. He couldn't read newspapers or use a computer. The mother, Joyce, became a housewife and stayed home. She did all the cleaning, washing and cooking. The children still went to school, but they changed their clothes on the way to and from school so their classmates wouldn’t know anything about this unusual project.
The Bowlers noticed that life at the beginning of the century was much slower. It was rather hard for them to get used to the new speed. For example, it took 28 minutes to boil water and make a cup of tea. And can you imagine cleaning the house without a vacuum cleaner or washing clothes without a washing machine? There wasn't any toothpaste or modern shampoo. Without central heating nobody thought about a warm bath or a shower in the morning. Toothbrushes were made of pig and horse hair. Toothpaste was expensive so most people cleaned their teeth using salt or soda. The children thought it was horrible.
11-year-old Hilary said: "The most difficult thing was finding entertainment. We couldn't go to the cinema or to a café. It was a new experience to be with the family for half a day or more. It was new and hard to be nice to each other all the time. But I really think we all became closer."
17-year-old Kathryn remembered that she couldn't wear any make-up. She had to wear a corset every day and had only three sets of clothes: one to wear every day, the second – to wear while cleaning, and the third was for special events, like celebrations.
When the show was over the Bowlers were asked: what did you miss most from the modern world? The father said it was a hot shower. The mother had longed to have a quick cup of tea. The daughters said it was the music, the hot water, shampoo and “normal sounds like the washing machine” which they missed. For the son it was pizza and the computer.
It's interesting that the family was allowed to keep anything they wanted after the project. Joyce took her corset and each of the children took something from the house to remind them of their experience.