Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Wake up.

  • Before this, and this, and this, and this.

  • Ahhh, that sound.

  • People in Britain and Ireland woke up like this.

  • That's right, being an alarm clock used to be a job and they were called Knocker Uppers.

  • We're traveling back in time for this one, so let's get a historian in here.

  • Do I sit here, or...?

  • - Yup - Yeah, fantastic.

  • Oh, sorry I'm late the Knocker Upper didn't call.

  • Good one, Richard.

  • My name is Richard Jones, and I'm an author on the history of London.

  • OK, let's see if we got this right.

  • - From the early 1800s to the 1960s, waking people up was a paid job? - Yes.

  • And this was done with a bamboo pole?

  • Oh yes, most certainly.

  • This is the age where people started to work in factories.

  • They've got to be up early for their shift.

  • And, of course, most people are on minimal wages.

  • They haven't got alarm clocks in their house, consequently, there's no one to wake them up.

  • So that's where the knocker up, or the Knocker Upper came in.

  • See, in big industrial cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester, Knocker Uppers used poles to reach the windows.

  • And these poles had a hook or knob at the end, which made them pretty effective.

  • You could scratch that handle, a bit like nails going down a blackboard.

  • Wakey-wakey.

  • Other Knocker Uppers, mostly women, used peashooters to aim at the windows.

  • Oigh!

  • Or not.

  • But why not just shout?

  • - Wake up! Wake up! - Shhh.

  • - Uggh. - Well, you do have to keep the neighbors in mind.

  • So the big question is who knocks up the Knocker Upper?

  • The evidence suggests that the Knocker Upper just didn't go to bed. Sometimes the Knocker Upper might attune himself to be able to wake up at three a.m.

  • Aggh, mystery solved.

  • Yay!

  • Play us out, Richard.

  • We had a knocker up and our knocker up had a knocker up.

  • And our knocker up's knocker up didn't knock our knocker up.

  • So our knocker up didn't knock us up.

  • 'Cause he's not up.

Wake up.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it