Meet the Robshaw family – Brandon, Rochelle and their three children Miranda, Rosalind and Fred. And Debbie – a chef in the 21st century who becomes their 20th-century maid. In the first season of Back in Time for Dinner, they’re transported back in time to the 1950’s. The series consists of 6 episodes, each covering a decade. The second season – Further Back in Time for Dinner, start at 1900 and covers 5 decades to 1950. Together, it paints a wonderful picture of how food and English culture have developed hand-in-hand over a century for the average middle-class English family. I particularly enjoyed the addition of Debbie – and the contrast of her working-class life and prospects that was very evident.
The concept is great, but it’s the Robshaws and Debbie that make it brilliant TV. They’re honest, sincere, comfortable and inviting. Watching them adapt to the culture of the decade isn’t like watching a reality TV show, but feels more like an inclusive experience – it’s as if you, the viewer isn’t actually there. It’s a show that stunningly manages to recreate the feeling of a book from a reader’s point of view – it draws you in without allowing you to change the experiment by watching it. That’s an extremely rare find in any TV format.
It’s a great watch for the whole family. Cass, age 6, loved it. It presented the key historical events of the century in a way that she could relate to on a personal level. We found it highly entertaining and it’s going to be difficult to find the next TV series to watch after dinner on a Saturday evening that’ll match the charm and natural appeal of Back in Time for Dinner.
Retailer: BBC Store
Price: ± £9.99 / £12.99 (HD) per season
Environment & People
£10 for six episodes is more than a monthly Netflix subscription, but less than one cinema ticket. Paying around £1.70 for a single episode is generally a reasonable price, particularly as an occasional purchase and the big appeal of purchasing it is that it won’t disappear from iPlayer before you get the chance to finish watching it. (Season 1 is already unavailable, as is Season 2’s first episode.)
Back in Time for Dinner isn’t something new, but it definitely has something new to offer. Giles Coren and Polly Russell sets the stage well and the Robshaws embrace the challenge with great enthusiasm. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching it – even Cass at age six – enjoyed following their journey through time. It’s creative, honest, funny and informative entertainment and the perfect accompanied to a TV dinner (or for the more refined, after dinner TV). Recommended.
The review is based on the BBC 2 series Back in Time for Dinner and Further Back in Time for Dinner. This article was first published on 5 March 2017.