Steph Mcgovern looks at iconic Bri­tish prod­ucts

steph Mcgovern on exploring how Bri­tain’s craft in­dus­try has shaped our na­tion…

TV Times - - My Week - Elaine Reilly

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

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