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TV Review: Saving Britain's Past/Caribbean Food Made Easy

Saving Britain's Past BBC2 Caribbean Food Made Easy BBC2

A SURVEY last week revealed the British city most people wanted to see before they died (ideally, not immediately before) was Edinburgh – and second in the "bucket list" was Bath. Yet, as Saving Britain's Past explained, the striking architecture of the runner-up was only preserved almost by chance, after it was attacked during the war.

Supposedly, it was a Nazi target simply because of its write-up in the popular guidebook of the time, so they were dubbed the Baedeker Raids. The Rough Guides and Lonely Planets weren't around then, or presumably Hitler would have ordered the aerial bombardment of the country's second-hand clothes shops and pubs with "genuine local character".

But, undaunted, the British rallied with their traditional way of fighting back: making a list and filling out some forms. The National Buildings Record was set up to establish the country's most important historic structures and try to protect them from the bombs, and from this came the system of listing buildings.

Bath also faced a second wave of attacks in the 1970s, when, with the showy, grand buildings such as those of the famous Royal Crescent safe, town planners ordered the destruction of unprotected, less well known buildings, which were also historic in their own way. So, after a campaign, they were saved too, and now you can hardly turn a corner in Bath without seeing a listed building; stand still long enough and you might become one yourself.

Some, like the businessman James Dyson, feel the protection efforts have gone too far, leaving Bath a stultified, museum city that doesn't have room to change and grow. It's certainly an interesting argument and clearly relevant to many other areas of Britain.

The programme could have done more to expand on the ideas, though, and presenter Tom Dyckhoff has a rather dry style, which didn't exactly make the most of the subject matter. Though there were some intriguing snippets of information, this wasn't really the most accessible format for the general viewer.

Unlike Caribbean Food Made Easy, which seems to be aimed at people whose closest encounter with Jamaican cuisine has been drinking a Red Stripe.

Levi Roots – obviously it's not the name he was born with – is best known for convincing the investors on Dragon's Den to invest in his barbecue sauce by singing them a song. He sings on this, too, which you don't get with Jamie Oliver, but thankfully, he doesn't just suggest putting his sauce on everything.

Roots is a jolly presenter, with some funny turns of phrase. As he did on Dragon's Den, he's selling the hell out of everything – advising us to create a box of core ingredients, he cheerfully insisted we call it "the Sunshine Kit!" and, demonstrating a method of cooking using a bucket over coals and coconut shells, he blithely claimed that it's "just the same as your hob at home". It's not, let's face it, and these kinds of references seem a little patronising.

There's not much that's different about the show, just as Roots' sauce is probably similar to a few others. But it's the marketing and the image that make it stand out, and here the glorious setting of Jamaican beaches and plantations gives his simple recipes some added spice. This was a pleasant piece of escapism, which, given the "barbecue summer" that never was, isn't a bad thing.

 
 
 

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