TV review - Robert Peston Goes Shopping, BBC2

Jamie's Money Saving Meals, Channel 4

When, exactly, did we turn from a nation of stiff-upper-lipped shopkeepers into stark-raving shopaholics? What tipped us into a frenzy of consumerism that ended in triple dip? What better time to address such sorry, sordid questions, now that the economy is broken and the awful hour of sombre self-reflection is upon us. Given the self-loathing it could have induced, the hour-long romp through Britain's retail culture in Robert Peston Goes Shopping was surprisingly upbeat, and, in its own way, feel-good. Then again, Peston, the BBC's business editor, reminded us that shopping helped to make the economy, before it broke it.

We travelled from postwar parsimony to Noughties over-spend, when shopping was hedonistically driven by want, not need, and from the birth of self-service shopping brought over from America by Sainsbury to superstores and the inspired idea to buy cheap goods from abroad by the boss of Dixons and sell them as an own brand, which hailed the beginning of the end of British manufacturing.

Peston seemed tacitly to connect the feminist revolution with the consumer revolution, showing how the former impacted the latter: as white goods became the norm, women were freed from arduous household chores not just to work but also to spend, thus driving the earn-spend cycle that helps economies boom (and bust). This was at its most visible in the 1980s, an era that had as its prime ministerial totem its very own working woman (and the daughter of a shopkeeper) who, in one archival snippet, frothed about the glories of shopping at M&S ("This is an M&S coat").

Entertaining archive footage and an infectious soundtrack (Blondie, The Pretenders, Wayne Shanklin's "Chanson d'Amour") accompanied Peston's narrative about the entrepreneurs who transformed Britain's high street. The majority were Eastern European Jews who did not bow to the status quo. Cue Simon Marks (of M&S fame), who circumvented the "fixed price" rule that enabled manufactures to control retail by making his own clothes and selling them at any price he chose. He also coined the phrase, "The customer is always (and completely) right", which has given us such a bloated sense of self-importance.

The story of such a firebrand, single-handedly engineering a retail revolution, surely deserves its own drama series (if Mr Selfridge got one, why not Mr Marks?). A further judder came as Alan Sainsbury brought in self-service and had a wire basket thrown at him by a woman who liked the days of being waited on behind counters. The Asquith brothers' superstores gave us the discount bug, Chelsea Girl stores gave women an unquenchable desire for cheap fashion wear and bang!, here we are, bloated and hung-over at the other end of it all.

Oh Jamie, do poor people with bad eating habits really have to be castigated for owning large-screen TVs? Thankfully, Jamie Oliver didn't rehearse this contentious argument in Jamie's Money Saving Meals. Much of the Jamie bashing last week left him exposed in this first episode, but it must be said, even grudgingly, that the three meals he made – a brisket of beef (plus Korean stir-fried rice with its remains), fish pie and hot Chicago pizza pie – were quick, easy and seemingly cheap (all apparently came in at up to £1.80 per portion).

What's more, he gave thrift tips: how to use old herbs instead of throwing them out, how buying frozen fish can sometimes be wiser, and cheaper, how to use leftovers and how making food in bulk (and freezing it) can reduce cost. Still, good cooking and good advice didn't take away from the eternally irritating Jamie-isms, those "cheeky little" money-saving tips he spoke of and the spinach balls that he called "those little bad boys". Worse still, his finger-lickin' good face is now possibly even more arch than Nigella's.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all