In the current stressful climate, we’ve become more reliant than ever on our supermarkets and yet, it’s easy to take the frontline workers stacking shelves and disinfecting self check-outs for granted.
As we’ve been queuing up outside our local Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi, broadcasters Sara Cox and Ade Adepitan have been filming a new BBC Two documentary – Keeping Britain Fed – which looks at how the army of supermarket employees across the country have been working around the clock to keep our fridges full.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Radio 2 DJ Sara Cox said she was “really proud” of the documentary, which goes behind the scenes in supermarkets to see how their workers have been coping during the pandemic.
“It’s a kind of celebration of the people who have gotten up every morning, put on their supermarket uniform and done a shift all the way through a pandemic, all the way through crazy queues, stressful behaviour, panic buying, people being frustrated and frightened in their stores,” she said.
“They’ve had to handle all that being chucked at them and then they’ve had to quickly come around to a new way of operating – they’ve coped magnificently,” she said. “It’s a real celebration of all the staff on the front line just trying to keep Britain fed, basically.”
Cox, who spent 24 hours in total filming the inner-workings of a Tesco Extra in Wembley, added that walking around a supermarket with a camera crew during the pandemic was a “stressful” experience.
“It was tricky – all the crew had PPE on and we observed social distancing but obviously, it was tricky for me to have it on because I was on camera and you wouldn’t be able to hear me properly,” she said.
She said that they were also aware of getting in the customers’ way whilst filming. “At the end of filming on the first day it was getting really busy, it was quite stressful.”
“I’m trying to stay out of people’s way as well and I’m aware that when people see a TV camera, they might roll their eyes a bit like, ‘Uh that’s all we need. We’re trying to come in here to get a loaf and some bits and bobs and we’ve got her knocking around, getting under our feet and filming us’.”
“It was just stressful, we just wanted to get it done and get out of there because it was getting really busy and impossible to keep socially distanced,” she said.
However, she added: “It was definitely an easier job than the people who are working in there day in, day out stacking shelves and dealing with customers.”
With a reduced crew on set, Cox joked about being responsible for her own appearance on camera. “I want to apologise to the viewers in advance because I did do my own make-up and I’m rubbish at doing it,” she said. “Although the lighting in Tesco was surprisingly flattering.”
Keeping Britain Fed airs tonight on BBC Two at 8pm. To find out what else is on, visit our TV Guide.