It's a happy coincidence that James Martin's latest TV series celebrating the best of British produce has aired during lockdown. More time for everyone indoors has led to a rise in the number of people watching TV, as well as a surge in cooking and home baking – ideal timing then for cookery shows. The focus on British produce is timely too, as people increasingly turn to local suppliers rather than rely on supermarkets alone for their food shopping.
"I didn’t plan for my show to go out at this time but the response has been stratospheric," says James, "more than anything I’ve done in 26 years. I know more people are at home but chefs' websites are breaking and people are buying the British produce that we highlight in the series, from Jersey up to Shetland.
"I hope lockdown means that people start to buy food produced in this country. We need to support the producers, the farmers and the fishermen. We’re too reliant on supermarkets and hopefully now we’ll rely again on butchers, bakers and fishmongers."
The series Islands to Highlands is a follow-up to last year's James Martin's Great British Adventures and highlights some of the UK's lesser-known foodie hotspots.
"I wanted to promote the produce of this country. We did the first series and that went down a storm but I didn’t get as far as Shetland, he says. "I got to Orkney, so this time I thought we'd go further and to places I’ve never been before. Jersey was first on the list and second was Shetland and that’s where we started and finished filming."
James arrived in Shetland last summer and was immediately struck by the beauty of the place: "I’ve never seen a place like Shetland. It was like being born with new eyes. The colour and the light is something I’d never witnessed. Phenomenal. The houses, the colours... It just blew me away."