I never could get the hang of Thursdays

What has Channel 4 got against the North?
15/10/2008, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Two of Channel 4’s latest cutting edge television programs have been based around two Yorkshire towns, Rotherham (Jamie Oliver’s Ministry Of Food) and Castleford (Kevin McCloud’s Big Town Plan).

In The Big Town Plan, Channel 4 invested some capital to kick-start regeneration in Castleford. Kevin McCloud presented it and gave us his professional opinion on what needed to be done. I like Kevin, he was perfect for this program and his way of talking through the problems and thinking about solutions was really great. I’m not saying anything bad about the program, I thought it was great, and I also admit Castleford is in need of a bit of regeneration, I’ve been there and it’s not the nicest place in the world.

Jamie’s Ministry Of Food is about getting people to eat better in Rotherham. There’s still another episode to come out yet, but I can see the similarities between this and The Big Town Plan. I also like Jamie Oliver, he presents well, makes good points and seriously tries to do good. I’m starting to think he’s a bit pretentious though. It all started after Jamie’s School Dinners (which was a genuinely good program, I’d like to add).

But what has Channel 4 got with Yorkshire? Is the North like the third world where lifestyle needs to be improved drastically to keep up with the South? Maybe Yorkshire is in a bit of a decline after the closure of the pits, and centralisation means people are going to find new jobs in the city and not in local towns.

There was a complaint from Rotherham council about The Ministry Of Food; “it gave the impression all the town’s residents lived on “doner kebabs”. Yeah, I thought that as well. Is the North like the third world because we don’t have a delicatessen on every corner? I found it a bit degrading. I come from another Yorkshire town and it’s mostly the same story as Rotherham and Castleford, but I don’t find it a horrible place to live or the food to be notoriously bad. The programs make out that before Channel 4 turned up these places were terrible.

Jamie’s Ministry Of Food made an example with Northerners, at the beginning of each program showing a mum feeding a takeaway to her daughter, or a dirty snack bar somewhere in Rotherham. Plenty of people with “common” accents. What impression must that have given to Southerners about the North? This article from BBC Radio One’s newsbeat is written in defence of Mr Oliver regarding the above quote. I can sympathise with him, but I still get the feeling he’s a bit pretentious. Also, I think the way it’s written is a bit biased.

I can’t say much bad about The Big Town Plan, I thought it was good, Castleford is in the need of regeneration. By forming local councils to help decide what is needed, getting residents involved and top architects the program was a success and some good has come of it. At least Kevin McCloud said when he didn’t think things were being done right and had the strength to criticise.

Where next Channel 4? What’s the new plan for bringing the North up to speed with the South?


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