When I was invited to contribute to the newsletter, I was concerned that my current ‘keepmeawakeatnight’ stream of consciousness was probably not something I should share (or anyone would want to read) so I turned to a spot of research on food and feeding. Absolutely my favourite subject. Wikipedia lists around 100 old and new food programmes with the oldest listed broadcast in 1993.
Food and London are two things I love. But who will live in the City 10 years from now and more vitally who will work in the City? Will millennials need the drug that is London like I did? Will they seek out every last funky restaurant and every groovy bar – nightly? Is there a reasonable future based around living, working and growing your own outside of a city, or even in a different country, and commuting in once or twice a week for meetings and feedings. And what does this mean for the TV industry, especially my bread and butter food programmes?
The role of the TV Chef
Looking back at some of my favourite shows, I remember Fanny Cradock broadcasting in the 1970s. On reading her bio it is apparent her culinary knowledge was very limited but her penchant for the ludicrous was so entertaining – good telly. I remember Keith Floyd, the fabulously talented and usually slightly tipsy TV chef, mesmerising his audience with not only his passion for wine but also with his phenomenal skill in the kitchen. He really springboarded the world of TV chefs I think and changed the development of food content for TV. Food content post Floyd is far more sedate – indeed Wikipedia lists most food programmes as educational rather than entertainment.
I worry everything in the food genre has become too safe, too polished. We need new voices; shows that are exciting, entertaining and original. With more and more millennials falling out of love with London due to prohibitive costs, too much noise and horrible commutes, the nations and regions debate has never been more relevant. Programmes should be made by people from and in all parts of the country. They’ll bring a diversity of voices to the screen that should really invigorate the quality of content. We’ll hear from more than middle class men telling working class people they need to eat fresh rather than junk food.
There was a fantastic article by the Guardian’s food critic Grace Dent arguing that “perhaps because healthy-food campaigners always sound so posh, any debate can only ever descend into a bunfight over privilege.“ It’s a valid point. Is a working class person from Liverpool likely to take advice from someone of such a fundamentally different world like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?
Food shows have the power to do more than just entertain, they can help improve the health of the nation. But it won’t work if the shows don’t appeal to different people, especially those most affected by poor diet – that’s why we need more tasty content rather than the same stuff served up in different packaging every day.
By Tessa Laws, CEO, Franklin Rae