Food and drink documentaries

Whether you are interested in going out for fine dining or entertaining friends at home, BBC Select has some food and drink documentaries that cater to all tastes. Join Nigella Lawson for an Italian-inspired Christmas at home or venture to France with Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders on a champagne booze cruise. Sign up for BBC Select in the US or Canada today to get those taste buds singing.

The Secret World Of Ice Cream

The Secret World Of Ice Cream

A ‘cold’ war developed between a number of famous British and global companies as they attempted to dominate the delicious world of ice cream. This fun food documentary, narrated by UK comedy legend Jo Brand, explains how frozen sweet treats arrived in Britain, leading to a bitter battle of the brands. Heavyweights from the industry reveal the tactics used to dominate the Great Britain’s freezers.

The Secret World Of Burgers

The secret life of burgers

A mainstay of American palates, the humble hamburger took a little longer to reach Britain. This insightful documentary lifts the curtain on an industry now worth billions in the UK. It’s the story of the battle between Wimpy, McDonald’s and Burger King, told by the industry titans behind some of the biggest brands. But what does the future hold for the great British burger?

The burger is a food item loved the world over. But the humble burger has also led to plenty of beef. How did a cheap, American fast food become a competitive business worth over $5 billion in Britain? The Secret World of Burgers, narrated by beloved British comedian Jo Brand, tells the story of the rise and rise of the British burger, told by the individuals at the heart of the action. It explains how this American culinary mainstay took time to get established in the UK but soon grew into a massive, money-spinning industry that led to enormous competition between brands. Plus, this eye-opening documentary investigates the innovations that have taken place in the burger world over the years, including the introduction of vegetarian and vegan alternatives to beef. It also investigates what makes the perfect burger.

The story of UK burger business is a particularly British one. It was a chain of traditional tea-rooms who felt that an update was required during the 1950s that first purchased the Wimpy brand from the States and opened the first burger restaurant. Ordinary Brits were seduced by this peculiarly American dish. But as this Wimpy brand grew, competition was on its way. McDonald’s launched Operation Golden Arch and attempted to muscle into the British burger market. It took a while for ordinary Brits to accept the unique McDonald’s offering. No crockery, no table service, no tea! But eventually the notion of counter service was accepted. Soon Burger King also tried to gain a foothold in the UK and a fully-fledged burger war began, with each brand trying to tempt Brits into their eateries.

But as burger culture gripped the UK, these established brands were soon faced with competition of their own. As palates grew more sophisticated and diners demanded better offerings, more gourmet meals and meat-free alternatives, a new breed of burger joint sprang up. These highly innovative restaurants moved away from the fast food culture of their predecessors and tried to make the humble burger a more alluring, exclusive prospect.

But what is the future for the burger? Will environmental concerns play a role? Will economic issues lead to diners heading towards the fast-food outlets more often? And could some new, unseen burger innovation be heading over the horizon? The Secret World of Burgers promises to reveal all in the most delicious way possible.

The Secret World Of Sandwiches

The Secret World Of Sandwiches

It’s no secret, Brits love sandwiches. But, as this fascinating documentary reveals, the development of the humble sandwich was a long and remarkable one. British comedy legend Jo Brand narrates the tale of UK ‘sarnies’, from the first ever pre-packaged sandwich to the mass appeal of Subway. As the big brands soon discovered, there’s plenty of bread to be made from the humble sandwich!

Joanna Lumely's Spice Trail Adventure

Joanna Lumely's Spice Trail Adventure

Joanna Lumley sets off on her most epic voyage yet, a journey through the world’s greatest spice continents. Embarking on a 10,000-mile trek through Indonesia, Zanzibar, India and Madagascar, Joanna explores the centuries-old spice trade, discovering the rich tapestry of flavors and cultures which have shaped our world.

Ep 1: Indonesia
Joanna visits the island of Banda, which was once the only place where nutmeg grew.

Joanna Lumley is on an epic quest to explore ancient trade routes, travelling thousands of miles across a variety of countries in search of spice. Her voyage begins on the Banda Islands, a remote destination that was once the only place where nutmeg grew. She discovers the island once attracted A-list celebrities such as Mick Jagger, but also possesses a dark, hidden history.

Ep 2: India
Joanna Lumley travels to India in search of a common spice once known as ‘black gold’.

Joanna returns to her birthplace, India, in search of a kitchen cupboard staple once known as ‘black gold’. She starts this enthralling travel documentary in the ancient city of Hampi, where she’s invited to a dazzling Hindu festival by a local rock climber. Then it’s onwards to the lush backwaters of Kerala, where she meets a great grandmother who teaches the oldest martial art in the world.

Ep 3: Madagascar
Joanna heads to Madagascar to learn the secrets of the world’s second most valuable spice.

Joanna Lumley’s spice journey continues on the African island of Madagascar. In this glorious travel documentary, she discovers the secrets of the world’s second most expensive spice: vanilla. Along the way, s he searches for gold and finds out how cacao is used to make some of the world’s best chocolate. The trip ends on the island of Nosy Be, where a dangerous martial art is practiced.

Ep 4: Zanzibar & Jordan
Joanna concludes her epic adventure on the magnificent spice island of Zanzibar.

The last leg of Joanna’s journey takes her by dhow to Zanzibar, the spice island of Africa. In this engaging travel documentary, she discovers that merchants from around the world have left their mark on the area’s architecture, religion and music. She travels to Jordan to encounter a Bedouin tribe via camel, then her trek ends at one of the great wonders of the world, the ancient city of Petra.

Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed The Planet

Many have changed their habits to help save the planet but could changing our diets make the biggest difference? In this climate change documentary, environmental campaigner George Monbiot investigates how our eating habits, especially meat, could impact the future of the planet.