The programme has been almost two years in the making. It was originally commissioned at the end of June 2010 but, as is sometimes the way of things, it took almost a year for the contracts to come through.
In a way this was a real boon. Without everything in black and white I didn’t really want to start charging around interviewing lots of people and spending money doing so. After all the BBC was in the midst of some pretty painful cuts to its budget and I didn’t want to take anything for granted. On the other hand I couldn’t help but think about the programme, pick up the phone and dig around.
A lot of early ideas were superseded as a result of the conversations I had. Indeed there were changes happening as late as February where one of the segments included in the first programme, a look at bread as a marker for the development of human society and civilisation, fell by the wayside. Luckily another presented itself that I feel worked even better.
So making the series has been a journey. If I’ve taken anything from the experience it’s that as you get beneath the surface of almost any topic you find much, much more than can possibly be encompassed in a short radio series. When the subject is something as ubiquitous (at least west of the Hooghly) as bread, that is true many times over.
Our Daily Bread is less a series about food than one about what something we increasingly take for granted tells us about us. And if there is a subject that is endlessly fascinating it’s people.
So the series has to be taken as a starting point rather than a comprehensive survey. One of those I interviewed, Professor Steven Kaplan, has written “fifteen or sixteen” books about France and bread. You could spend weeks reading everything he’s written about the subject alone.
The other joy has been the people I’ve met along the way. It would be a little indiscrete to single any of them out but there are three or four who I now count as friends.
Listening back to the recordings as I mixed the hours of material down to five fourteen-minute episodes I felt I’d captured the warmth and generosity of a lot of those encounters.
I hope that you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it. As the series progresses I’ll be posting additional bits and pieces on this blog that may lead you further into the subject.