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Britain’s Outlaws: Highwaymen, Pirates and Rogues (2015)

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STORYLINE


Historian Sam Willis explores the criminal underworld of Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries, beginning with the arrival of the highwayman in the wake of the English Civil War. Heavily romanticised in literature, these glamorous gangsters became a social menace on the roads and a political thorn in the side of the creaking British state, but a far darker reality lay underneath the dashing image of stylish robbers on horseback.

IMDB (unrated)

Episode 1: Knights of the Road – The Highwayman’s Story

Sam begins with the arrival of a new breed of gentleman criminal out of the ashes of the English Civil War – the highwayman. Heavily romanticised in literature, these glamorous gangsters became a social menace on the roads and a political thorn in the side of the creaking British state – threatening to steal our wallets and our hearts. But underneath the dashing image of stylish robbers on horseback lay a far darker reality.

IMDB

Episode 2: Pirates

Sam takes to the high seas in search of the swashbuckling pirates of the golden age of piracy during the early 18th century. Following in the wake of the infamous Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, Calico Jack and others, Sam charts the devastating impact these pirates had during an era of colonial expansion and how, by plundering the vast network of seaborne trade, they became the most wanted outlaws in the world.

IMDB

Episode 3: Rogues

In the final episode, Sam looks at urban crime, fraud and corruption in the 18th century, uncovering a fascinating rogues gallery of charmers, fraudsters and villains. Charmers like thief and serial escapee Jack Sheppard, so notorious that almost a quarter of a million people turned up to witness his hanging. Almost as controversial in her lifetime was Mary Toft, a fraudster who managed to convince no less than King George I and his surgeon that she had given birth to rabbits, making her, perhaps, the original ‘con’ artist.