Napoleon, in one of his wilder flights of fancy, is alleged to have called Britain “a nation of shopkeepers”.
These days, however, it would seem we are a nation of ‘artisans’, busily pulling pork, or maturing cheese or roasting coffee by hand – if you believe the hype, nothing is made using utensils, or machinery, or technology.
Busy falling for this distressed wood, vintage chic, hipster beard trend is the BBC, with Top of the Shop with Tom Kerridge (BBC2, Tuesdays/Wednesdays, 8pm), in which the newly-emaciated chef encourages food producers in turning their cottage industry into a worldwide empire.
An uneasy mix of Dragon’s Den, Masterchef and all the recent ‘Great British...’ crafty programmes, this was a John Lewis kitchen display on a grand scale.
The central idea of helping people with their business in a practical way seemed secondary to aspirational lifestyle flim-flam, in which we were invited to envy mum and daughter Pam and Emily, who make runner bean chutney will living in the middle of an orchard in Herefordshire.
The word ‘artisan’ was bandied about with gay abandon, while at one point the baffling expression ‘niche pickle’ was used.
Everyone involved was terribly nice, with lovely stories about why they got into making their chutney, or pickle or peanut butter, but it was so saccharine, so bland, so... gingham, it was hard to care about any of them.
A half-hour programme dragged out to an hour, it also made you wonder what TV lifestyle producers did before the camera drone came along, given Top of the Shop had about 20minutes worth of aerial footage.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the shops for a Peperami and a fizzy Vimto.
True Horror (Channel 4, Thursdays, 10pm) was a drama-doc about an apparently true haunting in rural Wales. Using a lot of the usual horror tropes, it was still an effective little shocker.
The BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence (BBC1, Sundays, 9pm) got a lot of press for changes to the plot, and bad language, but taken on its own terms it was great drama, with a neat twist and terrific performances.