24 Jul 2014

Award-winning OU / BBC series ‘The Secret History of our Streets’ returns to reveal Scottish History

Käthe Paton, The Moray Estate, Edinburgh

Käthe Paton, The Moray Estate, Edinburgh

This week sees the return to our television screens of the award-winning series The Secret History of our Streets, which peels back the curtains to reveal the hidden stories of some of the UK’s city streets.

Now in its second series, the BBC2 programme which is co-produced by The Open University (OU) travels to Scotland at a key point in its history to expose the stories behind three archetypal streets in the country’s great cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

The streets featured in the three-part series are:
- The Moray Estate in Edinburgh’s ancient ‘New Town’;
- Duke Street, the longest street in Britain running from Glasgow City Centre through the heart of Glasgow’s East End and;
- Footdee Squares in Aberdeen - a model housing scheme built for fishermen and their families in 1809.
As with the first series, which told the story of six London streets from Victorian times to the present day, researchers on the programme have drawn on a wealth of historical maps, archive materials and interviews with local residents to piece together this unique view of Scotland’s past. Thanks to this research, the series explores why certain streets have been transformed over time to become some of the most desirable and valuable property in the UK, while others have barely changed.

The OU academics on the series were Dr Georgina Blakeley, senior politics lecturer, and Dr Gerry Mooney, senior lecturer in social policy and criminology at the OU in Scotland.

Dr Blakeley said: “Although the second series of this award-winning documentary series now shifts its focus from the streets of London to the streets of Scotland’s three great cities, it is fascinating that so many of the themes and issues the programmes raise will strike a chord with people wherever they happen to live in the UK today.”

“The programme highlights the issues of power, social inequality and marginalisation that exist within Scotland’s three main cities, as well as the struggles of its people to build a sense of community, a sense of place – often in very difficult circumstances. We hope that the programmes will inspire viewers across the country to uncover the secret histories of their own streets and areas.” – Dr Gerry Mooney.

To dig deeper into the themes raised in the series, the OU has produced a free publication - The Street newspaper, which covers stories on class, poverty, housing and migration and can be ordered through the OU’s OpenLearn website.

Viewers can also share stories of their own streets from all across the UK by adding to the OU’s Secret Streets diary on the OpenLearn website.

Series two of The Secret History of our Streets begins on BBC2 on Friday 25 July at 21:00. For further information please visit:

An OU/BBC co-production produced by Century Films and Halcyons Heart Films.
Broadcast Commissioner for the Open University – Caroline Ogilvie
BBC Executive Producer – Maxine Watson


Notes to Editors

Image Copyright: BBC (Photographer: Alastair Devine)

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