“Notorious London” Hits Historical City Spotlights

tower of london, carnaby street, and more are examined in history series

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

London’s history and grandeur rival any city on Earth. From the Tower of London to the haunts of Jack the Ripper, London is a storied metropolis for the ages. A Wondrium series enlightens viewers on England’s capital.

Dr. Paul Deslandes on TGC set
Dr. Paul Deslanders presents the Wondrium series Notorious London: A City Tour, which explores various regions and eras of London’s past to give you a multifaceted look into the remarkable metropolis. Photo by Wondrium

Near the end of the 19th century, Oscar Wilde went on trial for “indecency,” which was the term for acts of homosexuality. The nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral has survived plague, fire, and war. The world-famous Thames River that runs through the city once got so polluted its stench washed over London in an event known as “The Great Stink of 1858.”

From the church to the sewers, from royalty to legendary authors, London is uncovered in Wondrium’s series Notorious London: A City Tour, presented by Dr. Paul Deslandes, Professor of History at the University of Vermont. What do the series itself and Dr. Deslandes add to the story of one of the greatest cities in the world? Wondrium producer Tom Krzywicki offered insight.

Straightening Out London

“It’s a tour, but it’s also a different kind of perspective into some of the major sites from a presenter who’s very passionate about it, and that carries through the whole show,” Krzywicki said. “We developed, with a graphic artist, a map of all the sites you go to see, and through the series we keep going back to this same map where Paul’s taking us. It keeps everything cohesive.”

The organization of the series helps keep the audience properly oriented around the city, especially the areas with which viewers may be less familiar. The aristocracy leisured in the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens on the South Bank of the Thames in the late 18th century. A century later, Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of Whitechapel, a neighborhood in East London known for its poverty and crime in his day.

“I think some of the deeper dives, even though they’re places and people you’ve heard about, you’re going to learn some new things,” Krzywicki said. “But [whether] you’re an armchair traveler, you’ve been to London, or you want to go to London, it might give you some ideas of places you want to go see.”

A Look at Paul Deslandes

Dr. Deslandes, the Notorious London series presenter, not only teaches history at the University of Vermont, but also chairs its Department of History as well as its Historic Preservation Program. Much of his work as a teacher and a writer focus on British history.

“Paul’s presentation really carries through; he was really animated and enthusiastic about what he’s teaching us about London,” Krzywicki said. “He was great to work with […] and he had great energy—just so, so enthusiastic about the topic—and that really comes through in the series.”

Krzywicki was particularly struck by Dr. Deslandes’s choice of topics throughout the series, specifically citing the Great Stink of 1858 and the regular travels back and forth in time that Dr. Deslandes handles deftly throughout the series.

“It’s really Paul’s plethora of knowledge about the place and the history and the culture that comes through, that you wouldn’t get from another presenter,” he said. “He was the star of the show and that’s what makes it so unique for this series.”

Notorious London: A City Tour is currently available to stream on Wondrium.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily