BBC Two has announced the commission of ‘Victorian Bakers’: a brand new series from Wall to Wall that aims to show bakers of today how their Victorian counterparts earned a crust.
In this three-part series, a team of modern bakers will recreate the lives of their Victorian predecessors, and will explore the social and economic change that took place. Using authentic tools, methods, recipes and ingredients from three eras of the 19th century, they will bake their way through a turbulent period of huge change for Britain.
Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC Two and Four, said: “During the Victorian era, Britain changed more dramatically than in any other time. Through the tough working lives of Victorian bakers – in charge of the nation’s most important foodstuff – we’ll get a unique view of the sweeping changes that shaped our nation and brought us into the modern age.”
Cate Hall, executive producer of Wall to Wall, added: “The Victorians effectively invented baking as we know it today. But in doing so, they shattered centuries-old traditions. At the start of Queen Victoria’s reign, bread was the most important foodstuff in Britain, and the average loaf was usually healthier and tastier than today’s. However, as Britain transformed into an industrial superpower, baking changed too. This series will find out how and why those changes took place, and what did we lose and gain as a result?”
Leaving behind their modern tools, the bakers will experience three very different worlds of Victorian baking: a rural bakery with close ties to local agriculture; an urban bakery in the midst of the industrial revolution; and a high-class city baker-confectioner.
Experts will be on hand to explore the wider context of baking, such as the changes in technology which saw watermills and windmills replaced by vast steam-driven processing plants, and how a few Victorian bakers went from small family businesses to brands still familiar today.