Steph Mcgovern looks at iconic British products
steph Mcgovern on exploring how Britain’s craft industry has shaped our nation…
NEW factual Made in Great Britain
Friday / bbc2 / 9Pm
Steph Mcgovern is definitely a contender for the busiest person on tv right now!
When she isn’t bringing us business news on BBC Breakfast, presenting Watchdog or popping up on The One Show, she’s helping families on Shop Well for Less.
‘It’s tricky to say no to things when they’re really interesting – I like to make hay while the sun shines!’ says Steph, 36, when she joins TV Times for a chat about the latest project to catch her eye, BBC2’S Made in Great Britain.
The six-part series sees Steph oversee proceedings as four skilled craft workers from the fields of pottery, steel, leatherwork and cookery turn back the clock and get to grips with historic British trades to learn how they evolved over time.
‘There’s a lot of global appreciation for the “Made in Britain” tag,’ explains Steph.
‘We do export a lot to
people in China and Japan who want that luxury British feel. We live in a world where mass production is important but there is also a love of artisan and crafts. The “Made in Britain” tag is allowing craftspeople to grow their business, but many don’t realise the history behind the things we take for granted.’
Here, Steph – who in person is as lovely and down-to-earth as she is on screen – tells us more…
What attracted you to this series? Well, I stopped studying history at school when I was 13 because I didn’t really like it. So I have always felt a certain ignorance about history. Filming Made in Great Britain has been fun and
I’ve learnt loads. The history of some of our most important products, like shoes and cutlery, is totally fascinating. Tell us about the craftspeople... We’ve got a team, each with their own speciality – Charlton is a chef, Katie a blacksmith, Claire a potter, and Jason is a leatherworker. Each week we look at the origins of a product and see if they can make them as they would have been made in different eras of time. They experience what life would have been like for a farmer making cheese in the 1600s or a blacksmith making a scythe and what jobs were done by men, women or children, what they would have been paid and even their lunch!
What are your favourite facts from filming?
I love random facts – like that ‘pothole’ comes from potters digging up clay in the ground. The term ‘mad as hatters’ is because the chemicals hatters used made them mad, while ‘nose to the grindstone’ is from the labourintense grinding of scythes.
Do you have any craft skills?
My dad is a sculptor, so I think I’ve got the craft in me. I do DIY and if I’ve got time, I make cards for people. I’m not at the level of the people on the programme, but
I can definitely appreciate their skills. I jumped in when they were shaping a scythe, did a bit of dyeing of hats, and in the cheese episode, I even tried to milk a sheep – badly!
This show seems a bit of a departure from the financefocused shows we’re used to seeing you on…
I started life before the media as an engineer. I used to work for Black & Decker in Durham [Steph’s too modest to mention that she won ‘Young Engineer for Britain’ when she was 19, after designing a production technique that saved Black & Decker £150,000 a year]. My core background is science and engineering, which also falls into the business category because that’s how businesses used to make money in the old days! Made in Great Britain falls into the genre of history but it is also about industrialisation and technology.
You were hotly tipped to be one of the stars of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing… Would you consider it in the future?
I’ve been asked to do Strictly but it’s a big commitment – I can’t take on any more at the minute. But I absolutely love music and dancing; I used to Irish dance. If I was going to do Strictly, I’d want to throw my heart into it. So maybe one day, but you can’t do everything at once…
In the cheese episode, I tried to milk a sheep – badly!
Hot products: the crafters in action