Best-selling author and food writer Sophie Dahl returns to BBC Two to tell the compelling story of Mrs Beeton, one of the most famous food writers in British cooking. Sophie Dahl On Mrs Beeton (w/t) will mix social history with cookery and storytelling.
Mrs Beeton’s Book Of Household Management was once a must-have on the wedding list of every aspirational Victorian bride. An instant best-seller when it was first published in 1861, it was the first of its kind to combine thousands of recipes with advice on every aspect of domestic management.
Mrs Beeton left an enduring legacy with her book, but little is known about her fascinating life. Sophie will follow her childhood journey from the streets of London to the grandstand at Epsom – one of 21 children – to wife, fashion journalist, editor and best-selling author, who died tragically at the age of 28.
Sophie tries out a few of Mrs Beeton’s stalwarts such as carrot jam, pigeon pie and lobster à la francaise to see whether they stand up to test of time and still appeal to the modern palate.
Sophie says: “I have been a long-time devotee of Mrs Beeton and leapt at the chance to learn more about her extraordinary life through this programme.
“People have an image of her as a starchy Victorian matron, but she was actually a startlingly modern woman, who wrote her famous book at the age of 23. Her life story is compelling and I’m honoured to tell it.”
Alison Kirkham, Commissioning Editor, Factual Formats and Features, says: “We’re thrilled to have Sophie back on BBC Two, fusing cookery with social history to see what we can learn from Mrs Beeton in today’s age. It’s the perfect subject matter for a talent like Sophie to bring to life for a BBC Two audience.”
Along the way, Sophie will meet experts and historians who still cite Mrs Beeton as a powerful influence in today’s society.
Immersing herself in the world and times of Mrs Beeton, Sophie will cook centuries old recipes on a Victorian range with food historian Annie Grey, bake cakes and biscuits with the Women’s Institute and recreate Mrs Beeton’s cold cure with ethno-botanist James Wong. This programme celebrates the life of an extraordinarily modern woman.
Sophie Dahl On Mrs Beeton (w/t) has been commissioned by Alison Kirkham, Commissioning Editor, Factual Formats and Features for BBC One and BBC Two.
Lisa Edwards is the commissioning executive producer for the BBC. The 1×60-minute factual programme is made by Keo Films and will be broadcast in early 2011. The executive producer at Keo Films is Claire Whalley and the director is Claire Lewis.