BBC2 puts food on the menu this year in a special season of programmes which look at what the nation eats ‘in more detail than ever before’.
Presented by a range of BBC2 talent including Giles Coren, Raymond Blanc, Kate Humble, Alice Roberts, The Hairy Bikers, Lorraine Pascale and Tom Kerridge, the programmes will look back over 50 years of food history as well as look ahead to what we could all be eating in the future.
Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC2 and BBC4, said: “BBC2 has always been the home of great food and this season follows in that rich tradition, with an intelligent, lively range of programmes. Food tells us so much about ourselves, and these shows, packed with content, reveal how the food that we put on our plates shapes who we are.”
Alison Kirkham, BBC head of commissioning for factual features and formats, added: “This is an exciting and rich season of programmes. From how the post war evolution in food has shaped family life; to which extreme diets to adopt if you want to live longer – we show how the food we choose to eat constantly influences the sort of society we live in.”
In ‘Back In Time For Dinner’, food critic Giles Coren and food historian Polly Russell document the experiences of one modern British family which is fast-forwarded through 50 years of food history to explore how changes in what and where we eat have helped shape who we are. In this six-part series, the family’s own kitchen will become a time machine, moving forward at the rate of one decade per week and taking them from the post war austerity of 1950 through to today. The family will experience the new foods and kitchen technology, cooking fads and dining fashions across each era. The food the family eats across the series is based on the National Food Survey – which ran from 1940 onwards and records in diary form what thousands of British families ate for breakfast lunch and dinner each day.
Each episode will also see the family meet the famous faces who helped shape our food lives, like Mary Berry demonstrating an electric oven and testing it by baking a Victoria Sponge, Hairy Biker Dave Myers telling them how the delivery of a fridge transformed his childhood and Ken Hom introducing them to Chinese cooking.
In ‘Kew On A Plate’, the BBC has been granted special permission for two Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc to transform an area of the world famous botanical gardens Kew into a fruit and vegetable garden, created on the site of what was once Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen garden. In the four-part series, Raymond will be joined by Kate Humble, and together they will explore the history and provenance of the heritage varieties of fruit and vegetables that Raymond plans to grow, across all four seasons. He will then go on to cook recipes using the seasonal produce he creates. After the filming, the vegetable garden will be open to the public.
In ‘What Britain Eats With Alice Roberts’, Professor Alice Roberts reveals the truth behind what food Britain really buys and how these choices affect our bodies and health. In this one-hour programme, she shares nutritional facts about the fresh food we eat, including the health benefits within our favourite foods and what to watch out for.
‘Britain’s Top Ten Meals and How To Cook Them’ is presented by celebrity cooks the Hairy Bikers and Lorraine Pascale. This one-hour special sets out to discover Britain’s favourite meals – before the culinary experts give them their own fresh twists.
In ‘Eat To Live Longer With Giles Coren’, the food critic takes up three extreme diet regimes in a bid to push the limits of life expectancy. In this 60-minute documentary, Giles undertakes the calorie restriction diet, meeting followers of this near-starvation regime, some of whom aim to live to 150. He then takes up the paleo diet, aka the stone age diet, which consists only of foods hunted, fished or gathered by our Paleolithic ancestors. Giles ends his journey with a regime consisting of almost 100% fruit – the aptly named fruitarian diet. Throughout the process, Giles’s health is monitored by his doctor, who helps Giles assess the impact these unusual regimes are having on his body.
Finally, ‘Food and Drink’ will feature two special episodes as part of the season: ‘Comeback Cuisine’ and ‘Try Something New’. In the ‘Comeback Cuisine’ episode, host Tom Kerridge is joined by fellow Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc to cook two dishes using ingredients that are disappearing into our culinary past. Raymond recreates a favourite soufflé from his childhood using semolina and heritage apples to rival Tom’s mutton chops with cabbage and turnip gratin. Oliver Peyton gets the inside track on a distilling revival, and Andy Bates has another look at rabbit – a meat once popular across the UK. And in ‘Try Something New’, Tom and fellow chef Glynn Purnell challenge each other – and the public – to create brand-new recipes from scratch. Drinks expert Joe Wadsack persuades Tom and Glynn try some red wine from Germany and Arabella Weir meets a cocktail mixologist.