Villages by the Sea BBC Two: TV series hosted by York University graduate and archaeologist Ben Robinson to explore British coastal villages including Flamborough

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The BBC Two show Villages by the Sea will be hosted by the University of York graduate and TV archaeologist and will unveil how some of the best loved villages, including Flamborough, contribute to significant moments in the nation’s history.

The 10-part series will see Ben Robinson discover the often surprising stories of coastal villages and their communities. It will be the first time the series will embark on a fascinating journey across the entire British Isles.

From Seaton Sluice in Northumberland to Solva in Wales, Culross in Scotland and Cushendall in Northern Ireland, every episode will provide viewers with a glimpse of the idyllic coastal village. Each episode will delve beyond the postcard image to discover deeper stories about Britain’s past.

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Ben will be joined by experts who will use clues from buildings, street patterns, artefacts and the landscape to unravel why the village is there, and how its fortunes have changed over time. He will begin his travels in the Cornish former mining village of Botallack where he will discover the tragic stories of the people who shaped this rugged cliff top village and the deadly by-product of its tin mining industry.

Ben Robinson on Villages by the Sea. (Pic credit: BBC)Ben Robinson on Villages by the Sea. (Pic credit: BBC)
Ben Robinson on Villages by the Sea. (Pic credit: BBC)

At the centre of the Cornish tin and copper mining industry, by 1861 this small hamlet was one of the biggest in the whole of Cornwall. Ben examines the village’s mining past with archaeologist Adam Sharpe, where he discovered the mines produced millions of pounds worth of copper and tin.

Whilst these metals were the foundation of the village it wasn’t without a human cost, as local resident Paul Nicholls explains to Ben. Her ancestors, the Boyne family, owned a mine which flooded in 1893, resulting in the tragic deaths of 20 men.

The mining industry was full of dangerous tasks and some weren’t even known at the time; with the help of Dr Lucy Santos, Ben finds out that Cornwall was extracting 50 per cent of the world’s supply of arsenic by the late 19th century. It was a by-product of tin mining, and throughout the Victorian era the highly toxic substance was considered safe and used in everything from wallpapers and women’s fashion to beauty products and medicines.

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Episode five will be focussed on the east coast village of Flamborough, which sits on a rugged headland sticking out into the North Sea. Ben will discover that chalk contributes to a large part of the history of the village; built from chalk in the 1350s, Flamborough castle is now in ruins and once was the residence of a prominent local Constables family.

By using modern methods of technology, Ben will uncover what the vast, fortified estate might once have looked like. The episode will air on Monday, June 5 at 7.30pm on BBC Two.

Purple’s Pam Cavannagh and Dympha Jackson said: “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to grow this beautiful series for BBC Two and iPlayer. We’ve visited so many incredible villages in the previous series and we can’t wait to see the stories Ben will uncover as we explore more of hidden gems right across the UK.”

Commissioner of Villages by the Sea, Diana Hare, said: “Ben’s fresh take on the hidden histories of our coastal villages has made the series a huge hit with audiences. It is very exciting to be able to showcase beautiful locations and their communities around the coast of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”

The series will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

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