“Bring on the afternoon telly”

19 March 2019, 14:16 pm
Fine Food by Charles Campion

The signs are all there and after studying the runes the BBC has devised a winning programme for that difficult afternoon telly slot.

The signs are all there and after studying the runes the BBC has devised a winning programme for that difficult afternoon telly slot. Now the seemingly unstoppable charge of grinning television antique dealers is faltering. There’s a programme that showcases farmers and they are an attractive and articulate lot. The Farmers’ Country Showdown, in keeping with television’s obsession for a competitive edge, it seems that every programme must set one family against the other. Ever since Countryfile awoke from its slumbers to perk up our Sunday viewing the countryside has been much in vogue.

Numerous soaring drone shots of stunning scenery have worked their magic and all the farming families work implausibly hard while living in the prettiest parts of Britain. Then the other shoe drops and the various County shows become battlegrounds where plump sheep vie for rosettes. As viewers we’re supposed to revel in carefully staged ‘jeopardy’ polarising delighted winners and plucky losers – such is the reality of the reality television business. It must all be very galling for those pundits and professors who previously spent a decade trying to encourage the public to move closer to producers. It is certainly a mammoth opportunity when tens of thousands of customers get to visit the local producers’ food tent at their nearest agricultural show. At the show (as well as shopping for cheap jeans and implausible hats) Joe Public will also be meeting fluffy lambkins; plump piglets; mighty bulls and a fast track to cider and a burger… agricultural shows are all about the countryside putting its best foot forward and should be nurtured.

Meanwhile back on the High Street things seem to be growing increasingly toxic in the marketplace of the supermarkets where in 2019 they look like closing many branches. Interestingly, the preferred strategy of the closing teams is to start by removing the in-store bakeries, fish counters, butcheries and deli counters thus saving money on specialist staff. Perhaps some good may come of all this as there could be an influx of available skilled retail workers and hopefully an influx of available shoppers who have been forced to search out independent shops to buy their butchery and bakery.

Early this year the Lion dancers celebrated the Chinese New Year. We are currently in the year of the pig (if you are referring to a modest concern) or the year of the boar (if you are talking swanky restaurant). This New Year saw the rehabilitation of one very special pig. It turns out that for many years Peppa Pig had been banned and classified as a ‘gangster’ by the Chinese authorities who detected porcine dissent in respect of the Communist Party. Times change, and now in her role as the New Year’s internet superstar Peppa is a hot property in China and received official permission to screen her seminal film Peppa’s Chinese New Year. Not only does this epic feature fireworks and dragons, but also two new characters that will sound familiar to anyone knowing their way around a Chinese menu – “Dumpling” and “Glutinous Rice Ball”. Surely they have missed a trick by not going straight for that delicious classic – Salt and Peppa Spare Ribs?

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