This is the television show that raised the bar of reality television. MTV blazed the trail with The Real World, Road Rules, etc. but the Brits are the ones who made this type of show worth watching.
The selection of the family was done very well. The process included a psychologist who reviewed the submission tapes and watched the interaction of the family members. The Bowlers seemed like a cohesive unit, laughing together instead of at each other. The were also keen on visiting museums and had always wondered what it would be like to actually walk into a historical home and live there. They found out!
The beauty of the house and furnishings was soon dimmed by the endless chore of keeping the place clean without any of the appliances we're so used to. Everyone had to wear the authentic clothing, from the skin out, even when they left the house, eat only the foods available at the turn of the century and do all this without killing each other or themselves.
The lack of shampoo and hot baths, keeping food from burning or spoiling, dust, and laundry that has to be agitated and wrung out by hand would have sent most people screaming and heading out the door. They stayed, they coped, they conquered. And their real thoughts and feelings were recorded in the confessional, i.e., the little video camera in the cupboard.