Why so many celebrities are touring Britain on TV

Our deputy TV editor watches Jamie, Ade, Kirstie and Ray get around Blighty on the box

Do you own a quirky vehicle of some sort, perhaps an old fashioned camper-van, a vintage motorbike or a wooden lorry decked out as a pub? Then what are you waiting for? You should be out on our nation’s roads, touring Britain with a camera crew in tow. 


You should be stopping at picturesque provincial towns to engineer jovial encounters with locals where you sample their home-made cheese or wade in the nearby estuary looking for cockles. 

Don’t worry, this sort of TV practically makes itself, though there are a few rules. For instance, the moment a mildly eccentric local tries a joke, or you try your hand at some rustic skill and get it wrong, that’s where you must both rock with laughter. 

That bit is important because the rocking-with-laughter shot will be used in the opening titles and in the round-up at the start of each episode. You’d be amazed how much of a feelgood flavour it adds, people love it. 

Most importantly, the word Britain or British will have to be in the title of your programme or it won’t do at all. Just look at this week’s schedules. Jamie’s Great Britain, Ade in Britain, The Hairy Bikers’ Best of British, Wild Britain with Ray Mears, Kirstie’s Handmade Britain, The Adventurer’s Guide to Britain, That’s Britain – they’re all on air and flying the flag. 

Sadly, only the first three on that list followed the all-important quirky vehicle rule, and for my money the others have suffered as a result. 

Wild Britain with Ray Mears would have been so much better if instead of simply materialising at some forest or bird reserve, Ray was seen each time driving up in, say, a camouflaged 1960s Morris Minor Traveller, which were practically whittled out of wood anyway, so Ray would approve. 

And with hindsight, it’s clear that if Kirstie Allsopp had only got herself a motorbike sidecar made from corn dollies and Delft china, her twee craft series would have been as big a hit as Location, Location, Location. 

Of course, you might reasonably ask why there are quite so many TV presenters touring our islands right now, hunting out plucky artisans and heritage foodstuffs and rugged landscapes and laughter shots. 

The obvious answer is probably that as the world economy crashes about our ears, austerity bites and our kids search listlessly for jobs, suburban Britain (which is mostly what we are) searches for escape, and finds it in reassuring images of an unspoilt land where hills are green and roofs are thatched and someone, somewhere still makes coracles by hand. 


The even more obvious answer is that “Britain” programmes come cheap. Thanks to the recession, we take our holidays closer to home, so why not our TV? And if they alert us to the treasures on our doorstep, so much the better.