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Ian Sansom presents: Essex, My Essex

Essex born and bred, writer Ian Sansom goes back to the county which made him who he is.

Ian's grandparents moved there from east-end London to fulfil their dreams. For them, Essex was a promised land of milk and honey, of golden harvests and Harvester restaurants.

Ian left 30 years ago and hasn't really been back since.

But a lot can happen in 30 years and in that time just about everything has happened to Essex. When Ian left there was no Essex man, no jokes about Essex girls, no Birds of a Feather, no Gavin and Stacey, and The Only Way is Essex was a mere glint in the average commuter's eye. Now, with the London-overspill county occupying a new space in the public imagination, Ian retraces his steps back to the place where he was born and which made him who he is.

Talking to people who've stayed there, meeting family and friends, going back to landmarks that meant something to him in his younger days, Ian finds out what's changed in Essex since he left. Between the low-rise housing and out-of-town retail parks, he finds an anarchist community which uses the county as a place to reimagine life's possibilities, a secret nuclear bunker from which a post-apocalyptic Essex generation would emerge and a retired vice Lord Lieutenant who hopes limericks can change perception of Essex girls.

This is it. This is his Essex

Essex, My Essex is now available on iPlayer