British TV and Eating Habits
A couple of young British actors, Jenny Funnell and Moira Brooker, were on PBS last evening during a showing of a rerun of an As Time Goes By reunion. They were here to encourage viewers to subscribe to PBS, something that seems to happen six or more times a year. Listening to their stories of behind-the-scenes events was interesting, but it was a refence to having lunch in the studio canteen that caught my attention. Apparently the entire cast ate beans on toast every day.
Beans on toast seem to be a British favorite. In the old Inspector Morse series, Sergeant Lewis frequently hoped they would stop somewhere for beans on toast. In the new series in which Lewis has been promoted to inspector he has not mentioned this delicacy, perhaps because he now is the boss and can decide to stop for them whenever he likes.
I have no idea what type of beans are served with beans on toast but I have an idea they are not good old Boston baked beans. This suspicion in based on the fact that when it comes to eating, the British haven't a clue. They do many things well in England. Eating is not one of them.
However, they make TV shows, both dramas and comedies, far better than is done on this side of the Atlantic. Why this is true escapes me. Perhaps it is because they film about half a dozen episodes and call it a year. If the show proves popular they do another six the following season. In this country they make anywhere from 13 to 39 episodes a year. That doesn't allow enough time for writers to come up with crisp new ideas.
In a poll among British TV viewers, As Time Goes By ranks No. 29 on the list of 100 all-time best comedies. It should be much higher than that. The opinions of viewers rarely amount to much so polls are meaningless in my opinion. No one asked for my opinion, of course, which is concrete proof that polls don't mean a thing. If you have never watched As Time Goes By, try to see it and you will find I am right. The stars are Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer, enough in itself to make the show a winner, but Funnell and Brooker plus Phillip Bretherton play wonderful roles as well. It definitely rates higher than No. 29. I'd place it No. 1, but nobody asked.