Last Night’s TV – Timeshift: Bread, A Loaf Affair

If you’re a fan of the odd pun now and again – or 30 million of ‘em crammed into a one hour show – and you like to learn a little something while chuckling at them, then this was the show for you.

Narrated by Tom Baker – primarily, I suspect, because of his surname – we heard all about how the humble loaf has, like so many things, evolved and reinvented itself over many years to suit the en vogue vagaries of an ever shifting society.

It was, in effect, a little slice – sorry – of sociopolitical history contained within the story of bread’s evolution. From descriptions of how bread was the luxury item to be seen with in mediaeval times, right up to today’s multiplicity of choice, Baker delivered the narrative with that entertaining tone he has that makes you think he’s about to tell a dirty joke.

And I’d been expecting it to be boring, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t at all. I didn’t even mind that I was being taught something…

And should I ever find myself in a pub quiz where bread type questions are asked, I will without doubt now be able to answer a fair amount of trivia on the subject. Or perhaps one day, I’ll find myself needing to know what was one causes of the mass outbreak of rickets a few decades ago, and now I’ll know the answer; aluminium sulphate coated bread.

There was some lovely archive footage too and jolly explanations about the rivalry between Hovis and Allinson, and how white bread, once so coveted, became the face-stuffing-belly-filling staple of the working class diet, causing middle and upper class people to demand brown.

So if, over the weekend, you find yourself at a loose end for an hour, you could do worse than to catch this documentary here, on BBC iPlayer.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.