When and Where Does The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin Take Place?

Apple TV+’s ‘The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin’ is a historical comedy series that guides the viewers to a unique period in the past. With the help of the escapades and adventures of Dick Turpin, the show, created by Claire Downes, Ian Jarvis, and Stuart Lane, traces the history of highwaymen, who were prominent until the 19th century. Turpin’s tale unfolds even before the same. The setting of the period comedy is connected to the life of the real Turpin, who was infamous as “Turpin the Butcher” during his lifetime. Despite being a historical show, its narrative occasionally connects with modern times for comedic effect! SPOILERS AHEAD.

England in the 1730s

The narrative of ‘The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin’ takes place in England in the 1730s, mainly in the year 1735. Among the several regions where the storylines unfold, the most prominent one is Essex, a ceremonial county in the east of England. The real Turpin was born in the village of Hempstead in Essex in 1705. Turpin and his fellow robbers were known as the Essex gang as well. The reason behind the selection of the 1730s as the setting is that the highwayman transitioned from a butcher to a robber in the same decade in reality.

Turpin became a part of the Essex gang in the early 1730s as a butcher who cut down the meat of the livestock the group of robbers stole to sell them easily. As the decade progressed, he started to be involved in much more severe crimes, including raiding houses. In the series, Turpin has become a prominent highwayman by 1735. In reality, his time as a highwayman was between 1735 and 1737. His notoriety became infamous throughout South East England and with his fellow Essex gang member Thomas Rowden, he targeted several coaches and single travelers, which led the authorities to place a £100 bounty on his head.

As the show progresses, we can expect the narrative to take place in the second half of the 1730s since Turpin dealt with the authorities the most during that period in real life. He was captured by the officials in 1738 after killing a chicken and threatening to shoot the owner of the bird. By then, Turpin had become a notorious horse thief. Since horse theft was a severe crime at the time, he was eventually convicted for stealing three of them. Even though the comedy is set in the 18th century, modern times surface in the narrative now and then. In a certain scene, there’s a character who uses a modern inhaler, which was invented in the 20th century, more than 200 years after the events in the show.

There is also a mention of batteries, which were not prominent during the time of Turpin. Through these references, the writers are connecting the tale of the highwayman to the present times. Most importantly, Turpin claims to be a “vegan,” a term coined by Donald Watson and his later wife Dorothy Morgan in 1944. “We wanted to have this sort of modern character in this quite hard world with these sort of scary characters and people are getting killed around him and shot. He, somehow, in a childlike, weird way, manages to avoid danger and get them out of trouble every week,” Noel Fielding, who plays Turpin, told The Independent about the modern characteristics of the protagonist.

‘The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin’ succeeds in depicting what life was like in the 1730s. The mourner Turpin hires, the clash between the gangs, and the startling punishments given to petty crimes take the viewers to a less-explored period in history.

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