Actor Paul McGann is set to discover how fears of moral, social, and racial degeneration informed the arts and culture of the 1890s in an upcoming episode of BBC Four‘s Victorian Sensations.

BBC Four‘s upcoming documentary series Victorian Sensations will endeavour to explore the thrilling 1890s, and the rapid change which unfolded during this decade. This three-part series will be comprised of hour-long instalments examining the phenomena which defined the period. What’s more, each episode will see a different host take the reins. These have been announced as psychotherapist Philippa Perry, mathematician Dr Hannah Fry, and the Eighth Doctor himself, actor Paul McGann.

Paul McGann Explores the Science and Art Which Defined the 1890s

McGann will present Victorian Sensations‘ second instalment, entitled ‘Decadence and Degeneration’. The episode will see him swap his TARDIS for H. G. WellsTime Machine, as well as delve into Bram Stoker‘s famous novel Dracula. He’ll set out to explore the how these authors’ works reflected the fears and anxieties of the British Empire.

Over the course of the hour, the actor will also look at some of the decade’s most prominent scientific thinkers. He’ll examine how their discoveries promoted the fears of moral, social, and racial degeneration that characterised the decade. McGann will discuss the work of Austrian physician Max Nordau, and Charles Darwin‘s theory of evolution, amongst others.

As well as this, McGann will learn about some of influential figures who challenged the status quo during the 1890s. These include artist Aubrey Beardsley, writer Oscar Wilde, editor Celestine Edwards, plus many more. He’ll even don period costume to re-enact some of Wilde‘s best-known works.

Victorian Sensations Also Investigates Electricity and the Paranomal

Elsewhere, Victorian Sensations will examine the decade’s other defining features, also through the lens of its technology, arts, and culture. Opening episode ‘Electric Dreams‘ will see Dr Hannah Fry explore the late-Victorian fascination with electricity, and the decade’s scientific and technological innovations. Additionally, the series’ third and final episode will be hosted by Philippa Perry. ‘Seeing and Believing‘ will look at the era’s fascination with all things paranormal, which co-existed with a passion for science.

Victorian Sensations looks set to give its viewers a fascinating insight into an exciting moment in British history. It’s sure to shed light on a decade of rapid and often bewildering change, whose defining fears and innovations will no doubt resonate with those we’re experiencing today.

Victorian Sensations will begin with ‘Electric Dreams’, presented by Dr Hannah Fry, on BBC Four on Wednesday 22nd May at 9pm.

Paul McGann‘s episode, ‘Decadence and Degradation’, will air the following week on Wednesday 29th May at 9pm.

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