Actor Brian Cox reveals the rich and controversial past of sugar, alcohol, tobacco and opium to uncover how the commercial exploitation of these products hooked the world
Today, whisky is a source of Scottish pride; it's one of the UK's few growth industries. In this last episode, actor Brian Cox reveals how whisky was born and shaped in opposition to the British tax system, and how that history forged the character of Scotland's national drink. But as he discovers, during the 19th century, addiction became a huge social problem with Scots drinking around six million gallons every year to escape the often unbearable conditions of their urban lives. The Scots reputation for hard drinking was born, an image Scotland struggles with to this day.
Growing up in the streets of Dundee, actor Brian Cox was surrounded by tobacco. His entire family either smoked it or chewed it and yet Brian reveals, he never took up the habit. To find out why not, Brian travels to Virginia in the US to discover how the habit of smoking kick-started the British Empire and created a global market of addicts. Brian discovers how manufacturers conspired to make cigarettes the optimal nicotine delivery system and that the Nazis were the first to make the link between smoking and lung cancer. Brian also takes a gene test which reveals just why he never took up the habit.