The Supersizers Go...
June 11, 2008 4:26 AM   Subscribe

With flagrant disregard for their waistlines and their own gustatory limitations, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins (known as The Supersizers) have been going back in time to the diets of their ancestors for the (education?) amusement of the general public (well, people who watch BBC Two). Restoration | Edwardian | Victorian | Wartime | Seventies

Next up: Elizabethan | Regency
posted by chuckdarwin (29 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Anyone knows a trick to make the bbc flash work outside UK? An england proxy would work?
posted by darkripper at 4:43 AM on June 11, 2008

It may, darkripper. It might be worth testing. There is not much on YT (only what's in my post).
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:46 AM on June 11, 2008

found a way. I'm too lazy to try, but figure it could help someone.
posted by darkripper at 4:55 AM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

Giles Corin? More Weight!!
How appropriate.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 4:57 AM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

I just have to say, while the show looks fascinating and I wish I could watch it, the "back in time" link article is nearly unreadable. That was in English? I had to read it a couple of times before I understood it. Wow.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:02 AM on June 11, 2008

Cat Pie Hurts - CorEn is probably best known as the restaurant critic for the British newspaper The Times, winning the title "Food And Drink Writer of the Year" in 2005. (?)
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:04 AM on June 11, 2008

When I saw "ancestors" my first thought was "how is hunting and gathering going to increase anyone's waistline?"

I like how the Seventies are another remote era.
posted by DU at 5:24 AM on June 11, 2008

The Times tries to copy Charlie Brooker's virulent reviewing style, result: FAIL
posted by munchbunch at 5:25 AM on June 11, 2008

DU, seeing as I am the same age as Coren and Perkins (roughly), the Seventies show brought back some childhood memories as well! *Everything* was packaged, canned, vacuum packed, etc. It was the beginning of the slide into the weird obesigenic world we now inhabit.

As they so rightly point out during the show, the Middle Class are roughly the same size as they were in 1974, but the working class people (who no longer have really physical jobs) have gained a lot of weight.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:30 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I love nerd reality shows! When does the U.S. version come out?
posted by nax at 5:41 AM on June 11, 2008

Ummmmm...I'm sorry to rain on this parade but this is another example of the privileged, dynastic and brain-lite tendency in British media. Giles is yet another scion of a media family (along with his fetching sister) and Sue is a minor Oxbridge comedienne whose repeated ratings failures never seem to sink her. It’s kind of a fun idea, but it is just a variant on the same old fishoutofwaterisntthepastabitoddfunnyetc TV format like the 1900 House et al. The basic flaw in it of course is that expectations are different – put anyone on this forum back to even 1992 and matters would seem foreign. People in the past had very different ideas about everything – what was a luxury, what was a hardship, good/bad taste etc. The idea of exploring the diets of the past is a good one – but what about in the context of advertising, the socio-political realities and health ideas of the time etc? There are smarter, more stylish ways of dealing with this subject than letting a couple of aging medja rah types play dress up.
posted by The Salaryman at 5:42 AM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]

Take that Michael Pollan (hurf durf just eat what your grrgranma would eater)
posted by grobstein at 5:46 AM on June 11, 2008

I think the difference with this show, The Salaryman, is that it's funny. Well, it's LOADS more entertaining than Big Brother XXIVII - The Grudge Match, anyway... and no one says 'Innit'.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:50 AM on June 11, 2008

along with his fetching sister

Unlike Giles though, Vicky is totally awesome and completely deserving of every single second of screen time she gets.

Especially when she's commentating poker with Jesse May.

it's funny

I caught the last 15 mins of this weeks episode. It didn't make me laugh. But they do remind me a bit of uglier versions of Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal -- probably because of the bland BBC humour, the posh accents and the twattish dinner parties.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:59 AM on June 11, 2008

chuckdarwin, twas but a play on his name and context. I know who he is now.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:07 AM on June 11, 2008

I can’t argue with that chuckdarwin. However I maintain that it’s a lazy, lowbrow format that belongs on ITV, C5 or at a push BBC1. BBC2 used to be for things like Arena and The Day Today. Shows like "Supersizers" are cut from the same Endemol bogroll as Big Brother, I’m A Sleb etc – just with a coat of posh gloss. A lot of the show is based on the same ‘gross out’ and ‘extreme personal experience’ topos. Davina is hiding under their hats, trust me. I’d not be cross about it if Auntie had not starved my kind of TV of love and money, shoving into a digital twilight zone. Let Morrisons sponsor this sort of thing, not my license fee please.
posted by The Salaryman at 6:14 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Giles Corey? Hmm, looks like he went to the church I go to now. :O
posted by mkb at 6:16 AM on June 11, 2008

The Seventies one seemed to have some things right (Angel Delight), but some strangely wrong (Everyone eating Brains' faggots? What?) and many grossly exaggerated. Just because Smash appeared in the 70s, it doesn't mean everyone immediately stopped eating real potatoes.

Otherwise, I rather agree with The Salaryman, especially about the generally charm- and talent-free zone that is Giles Coren.
posted by Phanx at 6:18 AM on June 11, 2008

The Salaryman, I see your point, and it's well-made.

I keep waiting for Never Mind The Buzzcocks to come back on. Or, failing that, a revamped Black Books.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:19 AM on June 11, 2008

twas but a play on his name and context. I know who he is now.

I was thinking that you were on about his Tax The Fat thing.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:20 AM on June 11, 2008

Balderdash & Piffle, presented by Victoria Coren, returns in the spring after a new Wordhunt.

OH! THAT Victoria Coren. *Love* her.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:23 AM on June 11, 2008

(Welcome to, er, shuffle my deck anytime, etc...etc...)
posted by The Salaryman at 6:27 AM on June 11, 2008

Is this Sue Perkins a rough equivalent of Tina Fey?
posted by Dizzy at 6:51 AM on June 11, 2008

Thanks for posting this! I've only been able to find synopses on Just Hungry. I hope they show this on BBCA soon!
posted by spec80 at 7:18 AM on June 11, 2008

> Phanx: "and many grossly exaggerated"

It's great fun, but the latest episode (catching an era I do remember) confirmed my suspicion that they focus on the most outré edges of the cuisine of a period rather than a typical one. I'm English, and I've never heard of that 70's fry-up stuffed inside a loaf.
posted by raygirvan at 8:30 AM on June 11, 2008

This is awesome - thank you for showing this to us! I hope to find this on BBC-America soon!
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:52 AM on June 11, 2008

Dizzy: No. Tina Fey is hot.
posted by darkripper at 1:08 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

(But what if she were a face-shaving robot?...)
posted by Dizzy at 1:37 PM on June 11, 2008

I'm the one responsible for the Victorian link. I have been rather obsessively recapping the episodes, even though they don't really 'go' with the general theme of my blog, simply because I find them both entertaining and fascinating. I don't come at the subject of food history totally ignorant, since I was a history (medieval Europe) major in college. I even wrote a paper about the role of food, the body, and death etc. in that period. Ever since then I've been fascinated by the way people used to eat as well as the way we eat now.

While the Supersizers series does exaggerate on quite a few occasions, emphasizing the gross-out factor a bit too much (like the boiled calf's head in the Victorian era and cockscombs in the Restoration) I think there is a fair amount of factual research going on to back up things up going on there.

I've finished writing up the '70s episode today (self link obviously). Since I was alive in that decade, I can remember quite a few things. Again, they exaggerated a lot, and even twisted the truth a bit to shoehorn in some of the recipes into their meal themes. (For instance as raygirvan pointed out, the deep fried bread filled with sauce and topped with bacon that was presented on the show as a breakfast dish certainly wasn't - it was clearly intended as a dinner party dish. I even dug up the original Fanny Cradock recipe, which I included in the recap.) The point they were making though was that people did eat a lot more calories back then, things we would never dream of eating nowadays - or if we did, they'd be served with healthy doses of guilt on the side.

As far as the quality of the Supersizers show itself, I disagree with the salaryman that it belongs on ITV or C4. C4 recently did a similar show called The Diets That Time Forgot, where they focused on popular dieting methods from the past. It too was entertaining and somewhat informative, but they just about ruined it by turning it into yet another competition reality show -- sort of a Biggest Loser in bloomers and corsets. The BBC may be failing at some things recently but they can still do factual programming that's also entertaining far better than others, IMHO. Besides, hasn't the proper staid programming been moved to BBC Four anyway?
posted by thread_makimaki at 12:37 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

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