Ceramics - Episode Two: A Fragile History

Copy of the Portland Vase, Josiah Wedgwood, 1790-5. Museum no. CIRC.732-1956. © V

Copy of the Portland Vase, Josiah Wedgwood, 1790-5. Museum no. CIRC.732-1956. © V&A Images

First broadcast: BBC Four 17 October 2011

The second film in Ceramics: A Fragile History series, charts the journey of Stoke-on-Trent, as a city built on clay and the heart of Britain's once world-leading ceramics empire. On the back of the new 17th-century vogue for tea, pottery in Britain exploded into a cutting-edge industry, a source of enormous national pride and an internationally renowned export.

The programme introduces the key characters responsible for putting British ceramics on the map: from Josiah Wedgwood, innovator, artist and marketing genius and Josiah Spode, who revolutionising the industry by inventing bone china, to the 20th-century ceramicists Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper who designed ceramics that were elegant yet affordable. It also uncovers how demands for cheap labour since the 1980s have forced the closure of all but a handful of these great factories.

Contributors include A.N. Wilson, Neil Brownsword, Lucy Worsley, Miranda Goodby, Emmanuel Cooper and Matthew Rice.

For more information visit the BBC Four website

Click on a selection of objects featured in the programme to view more details

Teacup and saucer, unknown maker, about 1815-20. Museum no. C.717&A-1935
Mug, David Elers & John Philip, about 1690-98. Museum no. C.15-1931
Butter pot, unknown maker, about 1650-1700. Museum no. 2043-1901
Kestrel Coffee Set, Susie Cooper, 1932. Museum no. C.127&A-1985
Teapot, unknown maker, 18th century. Museum no. FE.29-1970
Cream jug, Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, about 1790. Museum no. 1275-1855
Bowl, unknown maker, about 1760-70. Museum no. C.22-1951
Tureen, cover and stand, Joshua Wedgwood & sons, about 1765. Museum no. 2291 to B-1901

Handmade in Britain - a BBC & V&A partnership

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