Time Crashers, Channel 4, review: Mix of role-play and reality TV is an engaging format

Among the time-travellers were Kirstie Alley, Fern Britten and Greg Rutherford

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The Independent Culture

Journeys were something of a theme at the weekend, but on Channel 4 it was time being travelled through. Hosted by Sir Tony Robinson, in Time Crashers 10 celebrities were dumped in a different “time zone”.

Among those taking on the challenge were actress Kirstie Alley, TV presenter Fern Britten and Olympian Greg Rutherford. Dropped into 1588, the team were made servants to a wealthy lord and told to prepare an Elizabethan feast.

“I have a cleaner, so I don’t clean,” said “socialite” Meg Matthews on being told she was now a scullery maid. “I have a chef, so I don’t cook. I have a dog walker so I don’t even walk my own dog.” But it was Commonwealth champ Zoe Smith who fell at the first hurdle. While the weightlifter may be physically strong, her stomach proved anything but. Within seconds of being told to skin a boar’s head, she collapsed sobbing into Fern’s smock.

Other tasks included making two cockntrice – a meat version of a cut and shut car – and washing clothes in stale urine. Sir Tony and social historian Dr Cassie Newland maintained a safe distance from the flying flesh to keep the audience informed about the authenticity of the team’s task.

With the show’s mix of role play, reality TV and educational content, Channel 4 has hit upon a truly engaging format.

But the most shocking historical truth revealed was that, having been married to Noel Gallagher in the late 1990s, Meg Matthews is still rich enough to live like a minor royal. Five years of bad fashion and rock-star excess in exchange for that? Something worth travelling back in time for.

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