British Reality Show: Follow Diets from Victorian Era and 1920s

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A funny, fascinating look at the diet and exercise regimens of the past, The Diets That Time Forgot debuts on DVD from Acorn Media on August 10, 2010. Combining the period appeal of The 1900 House with weight-loss reality competitions like The Biggest Loser, this unique program follows nine overweight Britons as they partake of diets from bygone eras – Victorian, Edwardian, and the Roaring ‘20s – to see how well they and their waistlines fare. The 2008 series is available to U.S. audiences for the first time with its DVD release (6 episodes, $39.99,

A century ago, women’s waists were 10 inches smaller, and the average man was 20 pounds lighter. What did our grandparents know that we have forgotten? Fit and trim historian Strong takes nine volunteers back in time to find the answers. Divided into teams, the participants try weight-loss plans from three different eras. The Victorian diet consists mostly of meat. The Edwardians are allowed to eat whatever they want—provided they chew each bite 32 times. The final team is assigned to a calorie-controlled diet popular in the Roaring ’20s.

In this one-of-a-kind British reality show, a magnificent Victorian country house becomes an early 1900s health spa. For 24 days, the volunteers wear period dress and take part in fitness regimens of the past, including cold baths, dancing, military drills, and some more unusual practices. Who will slim down the most? What life-changing lessons can we learn from our ancestors? And does history hold the answer to the world’s obesity epidemic?

Hosted by eminent art historian and cultural critic Sir Roy Strong, The Diets That Time Forgot aired on UK’s Channel Four in March of 2008.

Street: August 10, 2010

Cost: $39.99 DVD

2-Disc Set: 6 Episodes; Approx. 288 mins Contains nudity, coarse language, and medical scenes.