The Worst Jobs in History

The Worst Jobs in HistoryIn this series, Tony Robinson sheds light on how a previously unsung army of workers shaped the world as we know it.

First series are concentrated on a different historical period per programme: Roman and Anglo-Saxon, Medieval, Tudor, Stuarts, Georgian and Victorian.

There was a one off special called The Worst Christmas Jobs in History.

Second series is concentrated on particular job settings, namely: Urban, Royal, Industrial, Maritime and Rural.

Some of the more repulsive or dangerous jobs included chimney sweep, executioner, leech collector, Plague burier, rat-catcher, leather tanner, gong farmer and sin-eater.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 8 hours, 47 minutes)

Ratings: 8.47/10 from 15 users.

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32 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Lucy

    Such an awesome series, fun and interesting! Thanks for posting it!

  2. tomoa

    really enjoyable!

  3. axolotl

    Brilliant series, hell of a lot of fun and very informative.
    This was first aired when I was really really poorly and my dad recorded it for me and I remember it cheering me up no end.
    Plus I adore Tony Robinson, he's a great presenter!

  4. Heather

    That plow was a bit ridiculous. They were just skidding it over the top of the field. If you want to see some real plowing, watch the documentary "Victorian Farm", available on this website.

  5. Jane

    I was very suprised and learned a lot from this short clip. Of course, I enjoyed it very much.

  6. gero2006

    Shocking scenes of animal torture in this series. I was disgusted. If people of the past tortured animals it is enough to say so, we do not need torture enacted live before us on a 'family entertainment' show hosted by a British comedian. I was dismayed. My formerly high opinion of Tony Robinson nose-dived. How low is he prepared to crawl to make a t.v. show? I used to love Time Team and other history shows presented by Robinson. Now I am not sure I want to watch anything he is associated with. I have written to tell Channel 4 (the series producers/original broadcasters) this. Maybe they will clean up their act... Other than animal torture this is a good family entertainment: history of the Terry Deary 'Horrible Histories' kind (UK children's non-fiction author) - lots of jokes about toilets and fleas... appeals to nine-year-olds and the nine-year-olds in all of us.

    And before people ask: no I don't eat meat; I am a vegan. Yes, I do have Multiple Sclerosis a life-threatening disease and no, I have not accepted any treatment developed through animal experimentation. If I think it wrong to 'use' animals to cure disease or feed people, I sure as H*ll think it wrong to torture them for entertainment. But this is a debate for some other forum. Rant over.

  7. Ton

    Gero2006, you dont know what animal torture is. Try not to make a storm in a glass of water.

  8. Solipse


    Do you know that vegetables are also live organisms? What is the difference in eating meat and eating an eggplant?

    It doesnt matter, because vegetables don't have eyes and mouths, and cannot scream in agony when youre violently plucking them from their soil or branches?

  9. Pia


    Plants cannot feel pain or fear. That's the difference. This is personally where I draw the line. And this is also why I have no problem with abortion of early embryos.

  10. Sadie the Celt

    Thoroughly enjoyed this series - a lot of footage was filmed in and around Wales. The gold mines in Wales are still ongoing, though the reserves are rapidly depleting - there is hardly any Welsh gold left! - subsequently the price of Welsh gold is sky high. All the Royal familys wedding bands are made of this rare gold. Nowadays its very common to be offered Welsh gold that is in actual fact just a small percentage of genuine Welsh stuff - 'diluted' with gold from elsewhere. But the indeniable attraction (and distiction) of Welsh gold is its 'pink' hue....its gorgeous...I wish I could afford some of the 100% pure Welsh gold! - but even the 'diluted' variety' is coveted, fetching double or treble of yellow gold prices, because of its attractive colour.

  11. Nelson

    One note: here there are 50 videos but the YouTube site hosts all 59.

  12. Dominique

    In 1 word: Asame!!

  13. John

    The man who invented the lie detector used it to test plant responses and discovered that plants respond as animals do (thanks to Derrick Jensen for writing extensively about this). So there is scientific evidence that plants are as sentient as animals. Obviously plants and animals (and humans) are part of a food chain, so we need to responsibly take life. It is all the needless killing of plants, animals, and other humans that is objectionable.

  14. pusspussbangbang0555

    When I left school in 76 my first job was in a rendering works,making beef dripping and also tallow for the cosmetics industry. The animal carcesses were fed into giant fat boilers upstairs guts heads the lot. My job was a woozer man The cooked bodys were fed by a Archimedes screw into a giant centrifuge like a spin dryer to extract the juice and the dried remnants we bagged up in seprerate sacks the flesh to make dog chews and the bones and powder for fertilizer it truly was a crap job,the smell was indescribable and athe wages were derisory,23 pounds for a 45 hour week So dont talk to me about crap jobs!!

  15. Misa Amane

    It's true: plants have feelings.

  16. Misa Amane


  17. Zubair Ahmed

    Great videos these. Wonderful effort. thank goodness i wasn't born in those dark ages :)

  18. Thunderb0lt

    Get a life, do-gooder.

  19. adilrye

    I think we should just eat air then.

  20. Angela Velazquez

    very interesting and funny doc. it puts things into perspective about how we got to where we are today. more than ever I am glad to have a computer, lots of books and a safe place to live.

  21. S.E.T.H prostitutes?

  22. BetsMcGee

    lol i would rather be flat on my back then doing some of these jobs

  23. hapq

    your a man ?

  24. Matt van den Ham

    Being a gold miner would suck, but the other jobs aren't much worse than a lot of the labour jobs of today. I wouldn't mind building a mud house or tending to charcoal....Just look at guys working at indoor garbage dumps these days. They work in the foulest smells, rats, bugs, and often times have to dig around in it and separate the metal, electronics and sometimes wood. Looks at toy factories in China...they work next to burning plastics for 12-15hours a day and 'accommodations' are on site.

  25. Matt van den Ham

    you would be lying on your back to those infected with the plague, disease and ridden with filth. They didn't shower/bath very often back then or have deodorants or perfumes.

  26. El_Critic├│n

    Tony Robinson had the most awful and terrible job of all...Being bled and trying the worm soup??? I could hardly watch the thing...

  27. chernencoffa

    Any colour you see that is not normal is from other metals in the alloy. Pure gold should not be different colours. Gold is not like diamonds. It's not a crystal.

  28. Harriet Leeck

    God Almighty
    I see the World , melancholy as it may be sometimes...WITH DIFFERENT EYES after THIS


  29. beYOU

    I love this show, I laugh my ass off sometimes.

  30. gaboora

    This is an informative, funny series. Only once or twice does he loose his tongue in a bad way, and it happened because of fear. I like that he actually tries these worse jobs out and discovers the origins of terms like 'top dog' and 'boogyman.' Watching this may be an avenue to appreciating how well off we really are in the jobs that most of us do.

  31. Emily

    I thought I had the worst job in history. I was wrong.

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