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Meet the Robshaws - Brandon, Rochelle,
Miranda, Ros and Fred.
They've been back in time before...
..and experienced the transformation in our diets
from the 1950s to the 1990s.
That is just amazing. Look at them!
Now they're travelling further back in time -
to the first half of the 20th century,
to discover how changes in the food we ate...
Oh, my good God! Is it brains?
..the way it was served, and how it was cooked...
-Yes, I'm cooking the pudding in the soup.
..helped change the course of history.
Starting in the 1900s...
-Oh, my goodness!
..this Victorian house will be their time machine...
What is that? It looks like a giant hand grenade.
..fast forwarding them through a new year each day.
From strict etiquette...
I might practice my bowing.
..to new fads and flavours.
-It's not THAT bad.
From far too much...
I think I've got the meat sweats.
..to not enough...
It doesn't look like a fried egg.
-Can you eat that?
..as they discover how a revolution in our eight eating habits
helped create the modern family.
Last time, the Robshaws raced through the Roaring Twenties.
Oh, God. I just wish Debbie was here.
Now, it's the 1930s.
A decade of opportunity...
Let me see if I can hear them snap, crackle and pop.
..that was stopped in its tracks.
That looks like something out of a nightmare.
The Robshaw family are about to enter
their fourth decade of time travel.
The house has been transformed into a suburban home of the 1930s.
The kitchen has become more homely, and is full of new technology.
The front room is cosier,
with comfort and family life at the core of its design.
And the dining room now has a round table,
better suited to more informal family dining.
I'll be working with social historian Polly Russell
to set the stage for the Robshaws' journey into the 1930s.
So, it's a much nicer space.
Yeah, it is. It's actually quite a pleasant place to be.
I think there are two or three other things that are notable
about this kitchen. We're now on the grid.
A third of homes have become electric.
We've got the kettle, we've got the toaster.
Over there, the kitchen cabinet, which is designed to make cooking
-as ergonomic and easy as possible.
'The larder is now stuffed with familiar brands.'
There is an awful lot more than there was before.
That's right. You know, those factories that were setting up
these kinds of manufactured goods are now in full throttle
and producing a large number of products.
Shredded Wheat, Cornflakes, you've got ketchup and salad cream.
You can make any sandwich in the world! A bit of tongue.
I mean, that is thrilling.
As a child, that was, every night, my favourite thing.
Sausages and baked beans. I had no idea they'd been around that long.
And what's significant is you've got enough food here
-to last the week, maybe more.
-It's an enormous amount of stuff,
given the fact that there was, presumably,
quite a recession going on. The Robshaws have got less money.
Well, this is a decade where you've people
in great distress and poverty, but if you're in
the professional classes, if you're in white-collar work,
you will have quite a lot of disposable income.
In 1930, millions of families were living in extreme poverty,
the result of a global recession and the collapse
of much of Britain's heavy industry.
But cities in the Midlands and South East were flourishing,
fuelled by more modern manufacturing,
such as car production,
and a house-building boom that was transforming the landscape.
For the professional middle classes, the '30s were a time of progression,
optimism and increasing choice.
Historical surveys show how those who had money were spending it.
When you look at this table,
we can see exactly what food they're spending their money on.
And what we can see from the 1930s is that the average amount
spent on food goes down from the beginning of the century.
We're not eating less,
but families are smaller and the cost of food is less than it was.
And why is the cost of food less?
Costs just generally go down because of worldwide depression.
So, if you are affluent and have money,
things are generally cheaper to buy.
'It's not just food that the better off could afford more of.'
The spend on recreation and entertainment
goes up quite significantly from 1900.
In fact, it's at least a third more than it was before.
That's cinemas, that is dance halls, municipal swimming pools.
You know, people are spending time at leisure.
We think of the '30s as grim,
but it shows here they were beginning to have fun.
It's that story of the '30s that's less known.
It's time for the Robshaws to enter a new decade.
I haven't really thought much about what '30s food might be.
On a personal level, I think, probably, my skills have peaked.
I don't think it will be as formal.
If you look at what we were wearing in the 1900s
and what we're wearing now,
you wouldn't believe that it's just 30 years that have gone by.
I think the '30s are going to be rather different from the '20s.
I'm thinking it's not going to be quite such a
I think it's not such a prosperous decade.
I think we might have to tighten our belts.
Oh, this is very bright and white and light, isn't it?
Oh, this is lovely. I really like it a lot.
This is really very nice.
But what is that? It looked like a giant hand grenade.
Oh, my goodness me. I don't like the look of that.
Is it some early form of a pressure cooker?
-What is that, Fred?
-I don't know.
-Is it a toaster?
-Have we finally got a toaster?
Hold on. Does it open up?
-Yes, that's what I...
-Oh, look at that!
-It is a toaster.
-Oh, that's lovely, isn't it?
-And look, an electric kettle.
Wow. This is all mod cons, isn't it?
I hadn't thought about these type of gadgets at all.
I imagine them being much later.
-What have we got?
-Look how much chocolate we have.
As manufacturers expanded their ranges and prices dropped,
items that were once luxury products became everyday treats.
Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate. Wow.
-I can't carry any more.
Bournville! Now for a feast.
I'm back to make sure the family know their place
in 1930s suburban Britain.
Hello, Robshaws. ALL: Hi, Giles.
-How are you finding your 1930s house?
Obviously, for a lot of people in this country, with the depression and everything,
there were people who couldn't feed their families - it was a bad time for them.
But for a middle-class family like you in a prosperous suburb
in a big city, things will be OK.
For you, Brandon,
the depression will mean that your salary will have stagnated.
But the cost of living has dropped a lot, so, relatively speaking,
a lot more disposable income.
Rochelle, for you, you're a more accomplished housewife, now.
I mean, a housewife is the norm.
Miranda and Ros, it's another good decade to be young.
All sorts of freedoms that you wouldn't have dreamed of 20 years ago.
Fred, all sorts of products which would appeal to you will be
appearing through the decade. The best piece of news of all, I hope,
is that a certain someone will be coming back...
You will have Debbie back.
-As a maid?
-Not as a maid of all works. You're not that rich.
You can afford to have her coming in daily as a charwoman.
So, Robshaws, for you at least, the beginning of the 1930s,
it looks like a lot of fun. A lot of hope for the future.
-There's your guidebook, how to live it.
Have fun and I'll see you a little bit later in the decade.
-Thanks a lot.
Debbie last worked for the Robshaws in 1915
as their live-in maid of all work.
Now, she's back part-time as the family's charwoman.
I don't know where anything is in this kitchen.
Unemployment was rising, and would soon hit
its highest levels in history.
Most jobs were given to men first and, for many women,
low paid, part-time work was their only option.
I mean, it would be nice to cook in this kitchen.
It has moved on since I was last in here.
Most people like me wouldn't have even had a job. They would have...
Like, especially from North Yorkshire, your family's in poverty,
so, for someone like me to actually have a job,
I suppose that's a really good thing, even if it's just cleaning.
Ten across, "A month, nothing more, in Ireland."
While the rest of the family enjoy their new front room...
-That's in a sandwich.
Yeah, but it's also a place in Ireland. County Mayo.
..Rochelle is in charge of making the first dinner of the decade.
She'll be using the latest must have gadget for the middle-class home -
an Easiwork pressure cooker.
Well, I've basically got no idea how it works.
It's got all these different baskets in it.
Pressure cookers were marketed as "Health cookers",
enabling the modern housewife to take advantage
of new scientific knowledge about vitamins and nutrition.
They look like they're in a laboratory
working away on some sort of secret
sort of meal.
Rochelle is following a menu recommended by the nutrition experts
Remove the inside of the marrow
and fill with the mince-meat mixture.
She's cooking stuffed marrow served with mushrooms and new potatoes
with plums and cream for dessert.
You have to stuff the meat inside the marrow
and then tie it back together with string.
For the pressure cooker to work efficiently,
all the food has to go in at the same time.
Not like that...
-I'm not surprised we don't really stuff a lot of
marrows in contemporary life.
Clamp on the lid of the cooker.
I can't remember how it went on!
Ah. That's it.
The high pressures created within the airtight container
mean the food cooks in just 15 minutes.
I am considerably worried.
It's not like a frying pan.
It's a pan with edge.
It sounds like it's coming to its end, doesn't it?
-That smells nice.
Oh. How do you get the lid off it?
-Shall I get Dad to help?
Mum doesn't know how to get the lid off cos she's too weak.
-Right, it's really hot. Move back, Fred.
See, the first thing is, what happens if we just...
-That won't turn, will it?
-No, no, no.
All you have to do is lift the lid up.
You don't need to fiddle with that. Honestly.
-I think you just needed to...
-Oh, do stop talking.
-It lifted off.
Ouch. I need another pair of tongs.
We don't have another pair of tongs.
This is ridiculous.
-So, what's that?
-That is plums.
-Ooh, that's hot.
-Well, that marrow certainly looks pretty well done.
-What do you mean - "Well done"?
-I don't think that's going to be
-chewy marrow, is it?
-It's not meant to be chewy marrow.
I suppose presentation could be, sort of, enhanced.
The '30s saw a huge rise in the amount of
fruit and vegetables eaten,
as housewives became informed about how to provide
a more balanced diet for their families.
-This marrow is delicious.
-You've got marrow, you've got mushrooms,
you've got potato.
You've got your protein in the meat.
I think it's good. I like it.
Is this Bovril gravy?
No, it isn't. It's the cooking water from the bottom
of the pressure cooker. It's full of, sort of, vitamins and minerals,
so it's recommended that you drink the cooking water.
-All right, let's go. Down the hatch.
-We're already halfway dead.
Ah! This is a triumph. Thank you very much.
-It was actually pretty good.
Let's see what we've got here. Does anyone want to listen to a foxtrot?
'The start of this decade feels very safe,'
'it feels very contained,'
very familiar, almost.
I actually hadn't realised just how fast
all this technological innovation had come along.
The storm clouds on the horizon still seem like quite a long way away.
It's quite a comfortable time, I think.
It's a new day, and that means a new year.
Rochelle is making full use of her new electrical appliances
to prepare breakfast.
I've got a fast electric kettle and a toaster,
so everything is sort of speeded up a little bit.
The early '30s saw a growing popularity
for fried bacon with eggs.
Despite the trend originating in America,
we named it the English Breakfast.
I'm not absolutely good at time management.
It just seems it's getting it all together at the same time
is the crucial bit.
This obviously needs watching.
You have to turn it over each side.
Although expensive, electric toasters and kettles
were marketed as must-have gadgets to make life much easier
for middle-class housewives.
This toaster is just
the worst toaster I've ever used.
You can't just leave it. It's pointless.
You might as well have a grill.
I've been waiting for breakfast so long, it feels like it's turning into lunch.
What have we got here?
-Just what I was hoping for.
Bacon and eggs, this is the classic English breakfast.
I think this is one of our best inventions, actually.
I think I'd put this right up there with the discovery of penicillin.
-It's not exactly a life-saver, though, is it?
-Yes, it is.
Set up for the day, Brandon is off to work.
I've given Fred his own job, which Debbie's agreed to help him with.
"Dear Fred, today you are a chocolate tester.
"I appreciate this is a difficult task, but do it for Britain, Giles."
-You've probably wondered at some time or another
how these delightful little wiggly things get on the top of the chocolate.
And now you can see that it is all done by hand.
Chocolate was big business in the 1930s.
Kit Kat, Aero, Milky Bar, Mars bars,
Rollos and Smarties all made their debut in this decade.
I'm just really good at eating a lot...
-..and not stopping.
In one of the first-ever examples of using a focus group,
Cadbury's decided to ask children just what made
the perfect chocolate bar.
That's the best. It's like salted caramel popcorn crunching.
-It's popping candy.
Cadbury's chose pupils from nearby Repton School,
sending them 12 prototype bars and a test sheet with a space for comments
and marks out of ten.
Texture-wise, it was like ten out of ten.
I mean, there is such thing as too much chocolate,
but it takes a long time.
I got sent a from box Cadbury of all the chocolate bars.
It's so difficult, this task.
I mean, even Giles said it was the sort of task that
-you'd need a lot of skill to do.
I feel like they're getting better as they go along.
MIRANDA AND ROS: Wow.
-Cookies and cream.
-Mm, cookies and cream.
That's really nice.
I think they've got the milky centre, like, just right.
-That's an easy eight.
Which one have the unusually nutty flavour?
The one that Fred scoffed.
-Really good idea, cos he's the target market, you know?
There's no point having a panel of, like, people in suits tasting it,
when they won't eat it.
Being a Repton chocolate taster left its mark on one pupil in particular.
His name was Roald Dahl.
The experience inspired him to write his most famous book -
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
So, shall we go on to our final, number 12, bar?
Yes, I think so.
I thought it would be good to save the biggest till last.
I'm kind of regretting it,
-because I'm kind of full.
I think if that job paid well...
I'd do it for nothing. I'd pay to do that job.
That's a dream job for a 12-year-old.
Oh, my God, I feel so alive.
I just had 12 chocolate bars and it's the best thing in my life.
It wasn't just Cadbury's expanding its range.
This decade saw the launch of thousands of new products,
giving housewives more choice than ever.
Manufacturers had to become increasingly sophisticated
to entice consumers.
Fry's Malted Milk Cocoa With Eggs.
That's a bit of enriched cocoa.
It's, I suppose, the start of trying to appeal
to people's shopping fancies.
It's not just, "Can I have some cocoa, please?"
It's, "I would like this particular brand of cocoa, please."
So, I'm making what I believe to be a considered choice.
'New types of cereal, new types of sauce, new types of pickle,
'new types of drinks. More emphasis is being placed'
on choice and more and more products are coming on the market.
I hadn't particularly expected that.
We ready then?
It's 1932, and Brandon and Rochelle are off on a day out.
They'll be travelling in the family car...
a Ford Tudor Y.
Here we go.
Made in Ford's brand-new Dagenham plant,
it costs just over £100...
..less than half the price of cars in the '20s.
Motoring was no longer reserved for the very wealthy.
-I'll have to change down again.
It's all about clutch control.
That is the secret of a smooth drive.
It's also quite hard to find, this gear stick.
You expect it to be right down at your side and you have to kind of
grope forwards to find it.
-Yeah, that's my leg.
-Oh, is that what it is?
As the number of cars on the road increased,
breweries built large roadside pubs.
These roadhouses, now familiar sights on A roads,
were originally built to attract the middle-class driver on a day out.
Often designed by distinguished architects,
they featured different rooms for different types of clientele.
Smoking rooms for men, large halls for entertainment
and, for the first time, women's toilets.
Here we are, my dear.
Brandon and Rochelle have driven to The Daylight Inn,
a classic 1930s roadhouse built in the most popular style of the era -
They're here to meet Polly.
-Come and sit down. I've got you a drink...
-Thanks very much.
-..gin and tonic.
-Got you a bitter.
-You've had a long journey.
-It's just what I need. I've had a long drive on these dusty roads.
I've got to have a pint of beer.
This is very typical of a roadhouse of the period.
It's this weird mixture of the modern, the, sort of, motorcar,
new roads, meeting a very sort of nostalgic
-idea about a particular sort of Britishness.
It's also a place where you can bring your wife. And it is...
You know, public houses are not where respectable women
would naturally drink,
but the roadhouse is a space... With its carpet,
it's comfortable, it's sort of elegant, it's rather glamorous.
-I hope you don't mind, I've ordered for you...
-It's a pie.
Typical pub grub.
The Daylight Inn was more modern than most.
It had a tiny kitchen on the first floor where they could prepare
simple hot meals.
Roadhouses weren't really about dining as a kind of
gastronomic experience. It's sort of basic, homely pub fare.
I suppose you didn't come here for the food, did you,
you came here for the entertainment, you came here for the drinking, you came for the dancing.
That's right. Roadhouses were really built as places of leisure.
And you've got to have a destination, haven't you?
If you go out driving, you go out motoring, you've got to end up somewhere,
and these just answered that need perfectly.
A trip to the roadhouse would often end in dancing,
and The Daylight Inn still has its original ballroom.
I've really enjoyed motoring out to the roadhouse.
I thought, to sort of see these pubs that we've passed so often
throughout my contemporary life, and to know that they were destinations
where you could just go there, eat a meal, drink,
dance and let your hair down.
So, to actually see these roadhouse pubs
as a new part of the scenery
in '30s England...
..is really eye opening.
What seems very strange from a modern perspective
is the idea that he would deliberately take the car
and drive a long way,
an hour's drive or more, to go to a pub,
where you would drink a lot and then drive back.
It seems, you know, absolutely insane.
While Debbie takes on the week's worst household task, the laundry,
Rochelle is off to the shops.
In the 1930s,
Britain's high streets were full of specialist shops that often sold
one particular type of product.
Shopping took a lot longer, but it often meant there was more choice,
and you'd be in the hands of an expert.
-I've come to buy some cheese.
-I think I'm in the right place.
Perfect place. What would you like?
To find the choice available to a 1930s housewife,
Rochelle has come to an artisan cheesemonger.
I just thought it would be quite nice to get one
-right from the top of Britain and one right from the...
We have quite, like, a lot of choice.
We have obviously the traditional cheddar. Wensleydale, Lancashire.
-What about the Dunlop? That's right in...
In the '30s, cheese was still made by thousands of
individual dairy farmers in small batches.
Each region had its own speciality and, within that region,
there could be hundreds of different variations.
Over 500 farms were baking cheddar alone.
Here is your cheese for today.
I do think, if you're having cheese,
you've kind of got to have wine with it, it's almost compulsory.
Oh, that's a hard cheese.
Look at that. Do you want to try a bit of it?
-Don't like cheese.
As middle-class meals became less formal,
the emphasis shifted away from dining etiquette
and towards the food itself.
At the forefront of this new approach was gourmand Andre Simon,
who set up The Wine And Food Society.
The idea was to open up the pleasures of discovering new food
and new flavours.
In 1933, the society held its inaugural tasting meal.
To mark this auspicious occasion,
the Robshaws are holding their own tasting meal.
Rochelle has prepared a wide selection of cheese and fruit.
Bringing the wine is expert in all things grape, and Brandon's TV hero,
-I am Jilly, and you're Brandon.
-Hello, Rochelle. Hi.
-Come in, come in, come in, come in.
Look at all this. Goodness.
So, I'd like to introduce you to Jilly Goolden.
Honestly, when I used to watch you on television, I used to think,
"If only I can have a drink with Jilly Goolden."
I never dreamt that that would actually happen.
Well, my enthusiasm has not waned, I can tell you.
-I'm still really enthusiastic.
-And I've got you some wines to try, here, too.
-Glad to hear it.
Today's tasting meal is made up of some of the same wines and foods
featured in the 1933 Wine And Food Society Journal.
Andre Simon, big man, big character.
His great passion was to try to get people
to really appreciate flavours.
A man after my own heart.
OK. So let's try this first wine,
which is an Alsace.
Now, when you come to taste it, I'm going to show you the technique.
It's not pretty. You take a sip.
-Munch it round, so it coats all your taste buds...
-..then you hold it on your tongue...
..purse your lips as though you are about to whistle, and breathe in.
Oh, dear. I feel a bit sort of anxious.
I need a glass of wine before I can do it!
Now, open your lips a little.
-First person who looks good doing that tasting.
-You really do taste it.
-My whole mouth is tingling with it now.
I'm afraid to describe it, really, in front of you,
because I know you'll do it so much better...
-I want you to, Brandon.
-..but it seems to me...
refreshing, slightly dry, kind of summery taste.
It's a little sort of spiciness.
So, it's got that lychee, quite rich, sort of sweet,
it's a bit tinned-peachy sort of favour.
Now, the foods you have in front of you here,
delicious looking cheeses and fruits.
Rochelle's cheese platter includes one
from the very first Society dinner.
That's a very strong one. That's Munster.
This cheese tastes very much like, sort of, farmyard.
Cow's udder, a bit of cowpat.
How does something that tastes of old socks taste nice?
-Are those plums?
-These are plums.
The middle one tastes like a peach.
These melt in your mouth. And really sweet.
Now, what we're doing here is very much what
The Wine And Food Society was trying to achieve,
which was people not just enjoying the flavours,
but also having a sort of relaxed,
lovely conversation around it.
Well, we've got something very special.
This is an original
-I actually can't quite believe this, can you?
-It's actually 83 years old.
Look at that. Gorgeous.
Oh, my goodness. That's just amazing.
That is just beautiful.
Nutty. This has held up remarkably, hasn't it?
I mean, you would never think that was 83 years old.
-It's like the French farmer 83 years ago has given us a present.
Well, Jilly, thank you so much for coming, it was lovely.
-No, thank you. It was my pleasure.
-Thank you very much.
A bottle of wine, something that somebody might actually have drunk
in that year is still around and I can drink it.
It's... You know, I'm not having to imagine what wine in 1933 was like,
I know, I've got it. I can taste it.
It really, really has brought this year to life.
'This is the national programme from London.'
The Robshaws are four years into the decade...
..and are taking full advantage of the technological progress
happening around them.
But not all new household gadgets rely on electricity.
It's a juice-tractor.
Insert then press,
the juice-tractor does the rest.
Today, the family's breakfast reflects one of the biggest crazes
of the decade - dieting.
That is absolutely amazing.
It's based on one of the most popular diets of all,
the Hollywood diet.
Fresh juice, extra lean steak,
tomatoes and grapefruit.
The '30s were the golden age of Hollywood glamour,
and many of the world's most famous actresses
swore by the Hollywood diet.
It required eating grapefruit at every meal,
due to its supposed fat-burning qualities.
-Do I have to?
-Yes, you have to.
-What's in the dish?
So in order to earn the steak,
I've got to eat this horrible grapefruit, have I?
Do you not like grapefruit?
I detest grapefruit.
-Cos they're so tart, so sour.
It's not that bad. Dad!
It is. It just makes me cringe.
I'll eat one more segment then I'll have to call it a day.
-This is a sweet grapefruit.
I don't even need sugar on it.
Nor do I.
I can't be doing with it.
I'd rather be fat, to be honest.
Dieting and keeping fit were all the rage, especially for young women.
the newly formed Women's League of Health and Beauty
had nearly 50,000 members.
-Clap, swing. Clap, swing.
If you couldn't get to a mass fitness event,
you could do the exercises at home.
Clap, swing, clap, clap.
Up, down. Up, down.
Oh, my God, it's so fast.
Food manufacturers were quick to cash in on the dieting craze.
The '30s saw the launch of many more products that claimed to help you
stay slim and healthy.
Ryvita crispbread. Crushed wholegrain rye.
All the rye, nothing but rye.
-I think it's got rye in it.
-It's got rye in it.
Somehow I kind of felt like this was like a '90s thing or something.
I don't know, I hadn't thought of this being around since the '30s.
While the middle classes were worrying about staying
trim and healthy, others had far less choice about what to eat.
Debbie is living a few miles away from the Robshaws at Ada Lewis House,
built to provide accommodation for respectable working-class women.
I've got tomato soup, tomato soup or tomato soup.
After four shillings a week rent,
Debbie has little money left over for food and she's been living on
a staple diet of tinned soup with bread and margarine.
I mean, it's not nutritious.
I think if you'd been doing days and days of work and then not
eating properly, you'd just get really, really tired.
How can someone ever eat healthily when all they can afford is sort of
bread and margarine?
Why would anyone think that that is fair?
By 1934, Britain's economy was beginning to recover
from the Depression, but the working classes
were yet to see the benefits.
Unemployment was still incredibly high at around 16%.
Many people simply didn't have enough to eat.
-200,000 unemployed escorting a petition
signed by a million persons. A demand for someone,
somewhere to do something about empty coal trucks
and the resultant empty stomachs.
Scores of hunger marches were organised as the unemployed walked
hundreds of miles to London to bring attention to their plight.
I mean, it is weird, the fact that there's people, like, what would have been my family
up in the north, that maybe would have struggled so much,
they couldn't even afford food.
It's not a very nice thought at all,
to think there should be that kind of divide.
After a day on the Hollywood diet,
the family are planning to bring a bit of Hollywood glamour
to the suburbs.
Isn't it magic?
Ros and Miranda are preparing a brand-new cinema snack - popcorn.
Oh, look, look at them in their trousers.
Fantastic. Have they all got them?
-Have you got them?
-This seems very glamorous.
New technology meant the cinema could come to you.
Brandon has rented Robinson Crusoe from the local library.
Actually, the good thing about watching a silent film
is you can provide your own commentary, can't you?
I wish he wasn't wearing that stupid hat, I can't take him seriously.
Yes, I think his hat is a little unusual, isn't it?
Oh, look, he's asking the parrots to be quiet.
Grab a bit.
Don't throw popcorn at the screen!
Oh, that's nice.
Are you admiring his umbrella legs?
I think the home cinema was simply amazing.
It was a real treat to have this kind of fantastic old projector
in the living room, eating popcorn, drinking gin and tonic.
I did think that the home cinema experience was amazing.
Whilst I was watching the film, what I did think of was Debbie.
I thought of her going home and maybe not having much to eat
or anyone to talk to.
The Robshaws are halfway through a decade defined by rapid progress.
Look, this is massive, Debbie.
This is like... Look at that.
-That's a very nice piece of salmon.
-It's absolutely lovely. Look at it.
But today Rochelle is using recipes from the past.
Florence White, the founder of the Folk Cookery Association,
collected recipes that had been handed down over many generations.
It's basically poached salmon and loads of salads.
The 1930s saw a growing interest in the folk movement.
Groups like the English Folk Dance and Song Society organised festivals
to help save Britain's ancient cultural heritage
before it was lost forever.
I mean, I think the change that must be happening in the world
at this time, in the space of a very short space of time,
must have left people wondering, you know, where they were.
So always going back to a folkishness
would seem particularly appealing.
Rochelle is cooking...
Stick the almonds into the cake beginning at the back
and sloping them backwards.
This version dates from the 18th century and was sent to the
author by Gladys Langley of Acton.
I've seen a hedgehog, so I've got an idea of what a hedgehog
would look like, except it doesn't look like this.
It looks like a very, very fat mouse.
A mouse with a bad skin condition.
-Oh, how lovely.
-Doesn't it look beautiful?
Rochelle has invited her boss Judith and Polly to share the best of
Britain's culinary heritage.
Shall we help ourselves to salads and I'll do the salmon?
A key feature of traditional folk meals is a centrepiece
of simply prepared fish or meat
complemented by stronger flavours served separately.
It's all sort of very fresh.
And really English summer cookery, isn't it?
The nasturtium salad has a dressing with nasturtium pods in it.
It's nice. It's quite horseradishy, isn't it?
They are very nice.
Florence White's one of my all-time food heroines.
She was a sort of pioneer, really,
rediscovering English traditional recipes.
You didn't have to cook French food,
you didn't have to cook the food the aristocracy were eating,
you could eat cooked foods that normal people
had cooked for generations.
To me, this seems like very sort of, like sophisticated food.
It's like sort of Sunday supplement food.
Yeah, that's exactly what it's like.
I think that is what's so amazing about her is that she was, you know,
depicting and imagining, writing about food in this way,
which now we almost take for granted,
but that she was doing it so long ago.
Oh, my goodness. What's that?
This is a tipsy hedgehog.
It's redcurrant jelly by his mouth.
It looks like he's killed a slug or something.
-It does, doesn't it?
-A bit eerie, it's looking at me.
Can I just turn it round?
I thought the folk lunch was really enjoyable.
My whole idea of folk is sort of sandals and hemp,
but these dishes conjured up sort of summer and a kind of idyllic time.
It's 1936 and the future holds a new threat to the British idyll.
Across Europe, fascism is on the rise.
Oh, see that.
-Looks like something out of a nightmare, doesn't it?
Swastikas everywhere and massed crowds.
The triumphalism of it.
-But, for some, fascism had already arrived in Britain.
In the 1930s, London's East End had a sizeable Jewish population.
Most, including some of my own family, had arrived as immigrants
from Eastern Europe in the late 19th century.
It was a close-knit community with hundreds of restaurants,
food shops and bakeries.
I've come to one of the few still open for business.
Can you do me one with cream cheese and smoked salmon, please?
Would you know what I meant if I said lox and a schmear?
-Yeah, salmon and cream cheese.
-Yeah. Does anyone ever said that any more?
-I was going to say it, but I was worried.
That's what my grandparents always said - lox and a schmear.
Emboldened by events in Europe,
British fascists began to target Jews directly.
In October 1936, inspired by the Nazis, their leader, Oswald Mosley,
planned a provocative march right through the heart
of the Jewish community.
Rochelle's family were also East End Jews,
so I've brought the Robshaws back to their roots to Cable Street
and its iconic mural.
-What do you think of this?
-I love it.
I think it's really amazing. I think it's great.
It commemorates a massive and important thing -
the Battle of Cable Street,
which was when Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts,
who were, you know, a bunch of hooligan buffoons
led by a posh twerp,
but who took their inspiration from Hitler and the fascists of Europe,
tried to march through the heart of the Jewish East End,
where families like yours and mine were living,
and the working class of the London East End rose up to stop them.
-Sir Oswald Mosley, Blackshirt leader,
arrives at Royal Mint Street to inspect his followers.
In Stepney, thousands of East Enders prepared to resist the invasion.
Communists, Labourites and Jews jam the fascist route.
A fierce battle ensued with Cable Street at its centre
and the fascists were forced to turn round.
There's all the chairs being thrown and stuff like that.
There's Hitler in his underwear, who wasn't actually here,
but they are making a mockery of him.
They are throwing things down like bottles, possibly filled with wee.
I think it's really amazing that men and women, children,
everybody wanted to stop it and there was...
It wasn't just the Jews.
The Communists, the trade unions,
they were all against Mosley walking through the area.
It always makes me so happy that they tried fascism here
and we wouldn't have it.
To mark this pivotal point in British history,
and to give the Robshaws a taste of Jewish food in 1936,
I've arranged a celebratory meal.
Oh, I'm liking what I'm seeing.
-What a spread, eh?
-What a spread.
I'm serving up a traditional Jewish dinner featuring potato
latkes, gefilte fish, salt beef, pickles and a roast chicken.
I think with particular reference to Cable Street,
there is a way of distilling all Jewish festivals down to a single
sentence, which is, "They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat."
Which is basically all of them. So shall we do the chicken soup first?
These are called matzo balls, also known as kneydl.
This tastes like non-sweet cookie dough.
Very stodgy, isn't it?
I mean, there's a lot of stodgy food on the table.
Stodgiest of all is the gefilte fish.
I just remember as a kid never being a fan of gefilte fish.
My heart always sank when I saw it on the table.
-Especially with its little carrot hat.
-No, it's famously terrible.
I wrote a review once of a Jewish restaurant and I said the gefilte
fish was terrible, as it should be. And people got a bit upset.
It's going to be a taste sensation.
He loves it! Right.
-He's a Jew.
-There's something about the texture that's just slightly sort of glutinous.
Basically, Jews did not live in places with coastlines.
They lived in landlocked Central Europe, so there were no sea fish.
Delicious, yummy cod and stuff not available.
What they ate was lake fish, so they ate things like pike, carp.
It's just a bony fish - you boil it,
you drag all the flesh off the bones, you mash it up.
You form it into sort of shapes a bit like a foot and you eat it
with sugar. And that's it.
And then Fred doesn't really like it and can you really blame him?
These are whoppers.
Jewish food is fatty, nothing very fresh.
The closest thing is a pickled cucumber.
You know, boiled things,
things that you can quickly parcel up into a bag when
the Nazis come, and run.
I think there's a thing with Jewish cooking which is to do with
making the most of the moment that you have, because,
who knows what tomorrow may bring.
Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
Right, and that sums it up.
Something that was strange while I was eating this food is that
I completely forgot that I was supposed to be in 1936,
because this is just food that we would have at, like,
a family gathering with, like, the Jewish side of my family
and it is so strange how the food just hasn't changed
in that 80 years.
When you're living in a world filled with, like, persecution and fear,
it must be really nice to have that sort of, like, comfortable place
and point of stability in your life.
The truth is that with the Jewish religion, Jewish culture,
Jewish life, in the end, everything comes down to food.
And after a day talking about immigration and Cable Street
and the terrible things that happened in the 1930s,
it's lovely to end with basically exactly the same meal that
they'd have had when Mosley and his Blackshirts had left,
and they settle down, "Oh, that's over.
"Let's have some salt beef."
There's a strange kind of contrast between the cosiness,
the pleasantness of family life
and these big and scary political changes.
There's almost something cocoon-like about this 1930s house.
It feels like a place of safety when actually terrifying things
Double spin it. One, two...
It's 1937 and, despite the growing threat to peace in Europe,
everyday life continues to improve, especially for the young.
Ros and Miranda are dancing to the latest American craze - swing.
America's cultural influence was huge.
And our larders were increasingly full of the latest US innovations.
Chef Ainsley Harriott is coming round to introduce the Robshaws
to an American invention that would transform a British staple.
-How are you doing?
-Very well, thank you.
-It's Rochelle, it is it?
-Marvellous to meet you.
-And lovely to meet you, too.
-Hey. Hello, how are you all?
Are you good?
the Wonderloaf bakery in Tottenham imported a brand-new machine
from Missouri - an automated bread slicer and packager.
This was the first time that sliced bread was introduced into Britain.
That is the best thing I've ever seen.
-Look at that.
-I am excited to see sliced bread like this,
because it's an equal, uniform shape, it's nice and square,
it means I'm not going to be hacking at the bread,
and it looks sort of like nice and perfect.
Perfectly sliced bread led to a whole new approach to the humble sandwich.
Cold devil sandwich for you.
Simple cheese and pickle won't cut it.
Ainsley has brought some 1930s sandwich recipes
from the Delia Smith of the age, Mrs CF Leyel.
A summer sandwich, which is a mixture of mixed chopped olives,
cream cheese, spread between buttered bread.
Chop a few of those up. See what we're doing there?
Leyel's recipes encouraged housewives to make
sandwiches the American way,
combining rich ingredients to form elaborate savoury pastes.
Then, we've got the tartare sauce.
A dollop of that. Very slowly now,
we don't want that going all over our tablecloth.
I've got the creamed haddock sandwich, so I've just flaked
the fish up, now I've got to add three tablespoons of cream,
which sounds like quite a lot to me.
What have you got going in yours?
Haricot beans, horseradish, mustard, parsley, celery.
Now that sounds like a lovely combination.
You have a go. That's better.
I'm your food processor.
OK. You didn't have one of them in the 1930s, did you, eh?
Come and stay in the larder.
Sliced bread helped another American trend take hold in the 1930s.
Some of Britain's first fast-food restaurants
were up-market sandwich bars.
The thing is, you could not have produced sandwiches like this
without the sliced bread, could you? Not really.
Absolutely. It's a bit more uniform, isn't it?
And there is something which is what we are used to today, but in fact,
can you imagine something like that in the 1930s?
That is pretty impressive.
Robshaw family, you've done the sliced bread proud.
Hey, thumbs up in the middle.
With the picnic in the bag,
the Robshaws are off for a family day out.
They've come to Tooting Lido -
one of many urban open-air swimming pools built in the 1930s
as leisure opened up to the masses.
Mixed bathing is now allowed and the whole family can enjoy
their time together.
I think it's the informality that we haven't seen before.
All of us sort of larking about and that's what's been missing
from the other decades.
Now you'd see other families around doing the same sort of thing,
so it does feel sort of a very different, a different time.
Who wants a plate?
Keeping the Robshaws' sandwiches nice and fresh suddenly became a lot
simpler with another 1937 invention - cellophane.
What's it called, Ros, what's it called?
It was like haricot beans and stuff.
It's kind of like a baked bean sandwich, isn't it?
Your one tastes like the inside of cheese straws.
The inside of a cheese straw?
You know what I mean?
I think the best sandwich out of the ones we made is the summer sandwich
with olives and cream cheese.
To be honest, that is the only one I would eat in normal life.
-The other ones were a bit claggy, weren't they?
They were claggy - is the very word.
To go with the sandwiches are pineapple chunks, boiled eggs,
ginger beer and tea.
It's idyllic, really, isn't it?
This is like a Famous Five-style picnic. We just need a dog.
Eight years in and there's more choice than ever at the Robshaw's table.
Let me see if I can hear them snap, crackle and pop.
Oh, yes, they're absolutely fizzing away there.
Britain's favourite breakfast is fast becoming branded cereal.
This one says Weetabix - more than a breakfast food.
A middle-class family can now afford to cater for everyone's individual taste.
What did you get in that one?
I think it's a ship-making thing.
Such choice has so far only benefited those who can afford it,
but welfare reform is finally making life better for many more.
Debbie is now entitled to holiday pay,
so she's come to Bexhill-on-Sea with a friend.
MUSIC: Swimmin With The Wimmin by George Formby
The 1930s was the heyday of the British resort,
with millions flocking to the seaside.
Thanks to the 1938 Holidays with Pay Act,
a week by the sea was now accessible to 19 million low-paid workers.
For Debbie, it means she finally gets to enjoy fish and chips,
instead of having to make them.
It's kind of important for workers to have a break.
I mean, after I've worked like what I have been doing,
and then to have a law made that I have to have a paid holiday,
must have been, I don't know, excellent.
For many, the summer of '38 was a time of fun and optimism.
But Hitler's actions in Germany were becoming harder to ignore.
The optimism and progress of 20 years of peace felt less secure.
Our policy has always been to try to ensure peace.
After the losses of World War I,
popular opinion was to avoid war at all costs.
This morning I had
another talk with the German Chancellor Herr Hitler.
We regard the agreement signed last night as symbolic of the desire
of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.
If I heard that, I would just hope, fingers crossed,
that I would believe the politician that there would be no war.
I would feel kind of like a sense of relief that it would be OK.
I certainly wouldn't feel frightened.
There's something about that speech and the cheers afterwards.
-There's something reassuring about it, isn't there?
It's very sad.
Find a space for that somewhere?
-How are you?
-Hello, nice to see you.
And the Robshaws have invited me,
Polly and some friends to mark the end of the decade.
I thought a touch of George Formby would be just exactly what the occasion demands.
# With me little stick of Blackpool rock
# Along the promenade I stroll
# It may be sticky but I never complain
# It's nice to have a nibble at it now and again
# Every day, wherever I stray, the kids all round me flock
# A fella took me photograph, it cost one and three
# I said when it were done, is that supposed to be me?
# He properly mucked it up, the only thing I can see
# Is me little stick of Blackpool rock
# Oh, lordy, lordy, me little stick of Blackpool rock. #
Thanks very much, hope you enjoyed it.
So how was the 1930s for you?
Well, I thought it really was a decade of discovery.
I was a bit surprised at actually how well we ate.
So it was a decade of, for us, in the middle classes, of abundance.
Our family kind of set-up and life has become much more informal.
It does feel like a decade of progression and I think it feels
like a good time to be young.
Has this been your favourite decade so far?
-It's been mine, yeah.
I suppose as far as you were concerned, you were just heading out into a wonderful future?
I think it's kind of given new meaning to that phrase,
"A false sense of security."
On September the 1st, despite all previous agreements and treaties,
Germany invaded Poland.
The party was over.
RADIO: You will now hear a statement by the Prime Minister.
I am speaking to you...
..from the Cabinet room at 10 Downing Street.
I have to tell you now...
..this country is at war with Germany.
Now may God bless you all,
for it is evil things that we shall be fighting against.
Brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression,
And against them, I am certain
that the right will prevail.
There just isn't any real way of grasping, is there...
You're about to go into a world war. It sounds like it's
the end of the world. It's impossible to imagine.
It is a kind of very sort of striking speech and announcement.
He makes it sound as though it's a war of ideology, this time,
and like we're on the side of the right.
I think, listening to that, as a family and as a nation,
we would have thought, "Right, OK, we've given him every chance,
"now it's war. Now, you know, he's asked for it."
What about for you, Rochelle, as the mother of the family?
I was trying to work out how old Fred would have been,
so my thought would be for him going to fight.
I think British people would have gone, "Oh, God, not again."
Don't you? And then just braced themselves for the task.
I think I agree with you.
I probably would have stood up and just thought, "Right, well,
"that's what we have to do."
I think the 1930s was a great decade for the Robshaws.
They enjoyed themselves unexpectedly.
They were relaxed, things moved on, they had so many freedoms.
The food was better and healthier.
Things were going so well and then the declaration of war
and you almost saw the colour drain from their faces.
And now the 1940s are coming and all the wonderful things
we've given them are about to be taken away.
Finally, in the '30s, you do feel like things are more genuine
and they really are moving forward.
And that's all turned topsy-turvy by the war.
This golden period is very fleeting.
It actually makes me feel quite sick, sort of living through
the '30s, because it's a really odd rubbing together
of comfortableness and horror.
You can't help but look back on this period with a sense of tragic irony,
cos we know what came next.
And it almost feels as if when the war does begin in 1939,
it just puts a stop on everything.
Everything goes on hold.
the idea of a world of sort of greater freedom and opportunities,
that's suddenly just shut down.
Next time, it's the 1940s...
..and the Robshaws live through another world war.
AIR RAID SIREN This one much closer to home.
And they have to make do with an entire decade of rationing.
BRITISH DANCE BAND MUSIC: Somewhere Over The Rainbow