THE WORD "ghettoisation" has been used in connection with the BBC recently, which is weird, because in recent years the BBC has spent most of its time mixing gardening, cooking, decorating and travel with gay abandon. Ghettoising? Wildly intermarrying, more like. Teams of gardeners move in to redecorate people's houses; fashion experts go on luxury holidays; interior decorators give makeovers to everything; and celebrity chefs are then brought in to try everything that hasn't been done so far...
It was said that Greg Dyke was going to put a stop to this strange trend before people burst into the newsroom and redecorated it as the news was actually being broadcast, but I have learnt that under his director generalship the trend is actually going to be accelerated. It has been spotted within the BBC that there is still one major strand not so far affected by cross- fertilisation. I refer to period costume drama. And I can reveal that between now and Christmas the first experiment is being done to mix period drama with a cooking programme. Filming is due to start next month on a hitherto unknown Jane Austen story called "Pride and Polenta".
"Yes," Verity Gamble, the new head of the new cookery drama department, confirmed to me, "I don't know how you found out about this, but it's true. We are very excited about it."
But surely Jane Austen never actually wrote a book called "Pride and Polenta", did she? It was called Pride and Prejudice.
"What's in a name?" says Verity Gamble. "Don't forget that Jane Austen herself did not call the book Pride and Prejudice to begin with. She called it First Impressions. Names change," she continues. "And we have changed it again. We are very excited about it."
So what will be different about this new costume/cookery drama?
"Well, this all came about because we were trying to think of a new cookery programme. They always say that there is nothing new under the sun, but somebody suggested that we hadn't really explored classic cooking techniques from previous centuries and said we ought to try the history approach. …