Cornwall With Caroline Quentin - great for tourism, excruciating for the locals
SOMETIMES you have to face those horrors in life, the moments that make you recoil, question your very being … and make you realise you should have watched EastEnders on the other side.
Just a few minutes ago I did something I swore I never would again – I watched the first episode of the second series (yes, another was commissioned) of Cornwall With Caroline Quentin on ITV1.
I sat open-mouthed at the couple of episodes I caught last year, incredulous at the twee, often mindless portrayal of the county of my birth. Aimed so wholeheartedly at a certain demographic, the programme had to have been financed by the very second homeowners to whom it so obviously pandered.
It was one long advert for the idyllic Cornwall that I'm sure only exists in lifestyle magazines and the odd Betjeman poem.
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Tonight's opening was a slightly more professional look at the Helford river and Roskilly's ice cream if still repetitive and mundane. The fact that beautiful Trebah will gain more visitors and the worthy seal sanctuary was featured is welcome.
I'm not going to be so churlish as to deny the good a programme like this will do for tourism and I imagine Visit Cornwall is unundated with emails and calls as soon as Caroline smashes another pasty into her face and the ad break looms.
Indeed, earlier today I received a press release from the Pentillie estate eagerly trumpeting their appearance in the new series, and who can blame them when it reaches a peak audience of 4.6 million?
But a little realism among the cake and coves wouldn't go amiss. A food bank in Wadebridge was featured on the BBC's Inside Out half an hour before – perhaps Caroline should hand out her cream teas there?
Plymouth-based programme makers Twofour and the comedy actress herself – who loves Cornwall so much she lives in Tiverton, Devon – have promised this series will "delve further into the Westcountry heartland, exploring tales of community spirit and personal endeavour, past and present".
I doubt that will mean the heartland of Redruth and Camborne, still one of the poorest areas of Europe, or Penzance which is now looking like a retail graveyard. But I may be wrong – perhaps Heartlands itself, the mining heritage centre, which is trying so hard to reignite a dying area will receive some decent coverage.
I'm afraid I'm not the only one who is far from a fan. Last week I tweeted and Facebooked a "warning" the series was returning.Here are just some of the replies:"It does nothing for a sustainable Cornish economy, just promotes a two-tier Kernow.""The last series made my blood boil.""Gave her a dose of my mind at the Newlyn Fish Festival asked her if she cared for Cornwall's young and the curse of second homes.""Gahhh! Twee little Cornwall filled with posh weirdos. Might have to throw out my TV."
Tellingly, tweets during tonight's programme revealed that people outside the county love it, but those living here are more sceptical; towards the presenter more than the content it would seem.
I work next to a reporter who's originally from Liverpool. When she returns home, her friends and family rave about the programme.
So if it's putting us and our undoubtedly wondrous county (I wouldn't live here if it wasn't) in a good light beyond the Tamar maybe we should turn a blind eye, turn it off and let the rest of the country enjoy the myth.