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Colonial House Picture of the colony
Meet the Colonists Behind the Scenes Interactive History Media Gallery
Behind the Scenes
Introduction Interview with the Executive Producer Colonial Life, Then and Now

Interview With the Executive Producer. Back to questions

Question:

How did the idea of COLONIAL HOUSE come about?


Answer:

COLONIAL HOUSE grew out of the successful "House" strand, which goes all the way back to THE 1900 HOUSE -- which was the idea of some of my colleagues in the U.K. who sat down and said, "How could we look at how far domestic technology has come in the last 100 years?" They were looking at the projects for the year 2000 at the time and had this idea: "Let's create a house that doesn't have any tools and technology of the last 100 years and make some people live there and see what happens."

I got involved in that show when it was about halfway done. When it was first pitched to me I said, "Oh, that's a great idea, but that's a bunch of English people living in a funny little house. I'm not sure it'll work in the U.S., but maybe we can find something that'll work here." Then I went there, saw the house, saw what it was like -- it felt like time-traveling. It was fascinating; it was wonderful. Then I saw the rushes [raw footage] that were coming out of these peoples' experience, and it was thrilling. Near that time I was reading LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE to my daughter, which gave us the idea for an American show, which would be FRONTIER HOUSE.

What happened with THE 1900 HOUSE and what happened with FRONTIER HOUSE was that each time we set out to make a film about one thing, it became about so much more. THE 1900 HOUSE started out being about domestic technology in the last 100 years, but it ended up covering social change, personal experiences, and time travel. When we took that a step further to FRONTIER HOUSE, we had three different families and we were looking at the American West in 1883. And one other thing that grew out of that was that the idea we started to explore, but didn't get to very deeply, was community.

So when we looked for the next American project, we really wanted to explore that idea of community and we thought: What better time than an early colony, when people had to carve a community out of a wilderness. It's an iconic period in American history, one people think they know something about from our "pilgrim-ness." These projects are fantastic at doing two things, and one is to really explode the myth, do away with the misconceptions about a time, and the other is to experience the nitty-gritty of daily life in a way that you can't without putting together a village like that. So that's how COLONIAL HOUSE came to be.

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