Tom Kerridge hopes to use BBC show to 'save Britain's pubs' - an industry in decline across Yorkshire

Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge will appear in a new series for BBC Two helping to save Britain’s pubs.

Across four episodes to be aired next year, Kerridge - who has spoken about becoming teetotal - will immerse himself in the fortunes of a pub under threat of closure.

Chef Tom Kerridge signs his book at Pub in the Park, Roundhay Park, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Chef Tom Kerridge signs his book at Pub in the Park, Roundhay Park, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme.

-> Why I’m teetotal now, by TV chef Tom Kerridge
Working alongside its staff and the community, he will lend his extensive experience of the industry and his passion for pubs in the fight to save their treasured local.

Last year nearly 1,000 pubs in Britain closed down. Between 2001 and 2018 an estimated 13,000 called last orders for good.

In Yorkshire the number of pubs has been decreasing in the same period, with York the only local authority area to see a boost (by nine per cent) in the amount of such businesses.

Bradford, for example, has seen a 40 per cent decrease in the number of pubs between 2001 and 2018, with 165 fewer watering holes over that period.

Chef Tom Kerridge at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Chef Tom Kerridge at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

However, the regional industry has been buoyed by the growth of craft beer producers.
The BBC said that cash-strapped drinkers are buying alcohol from supermarkets to consume at home rather than frequenting their locals, and publicans are struggling with the burden of taxes, rents, rates, wages and the cost of food and drink.

Inflated property prices can also make selling pubs off for housing more profitable than running them as businesses, said the broadcaster.

But Kerridge believes that the British pub is an important part of national culture and a valuable asset to many local communities.

He said: “When a community loses its pub, it loses its soul. Pubs are a vital part of our history and culture, and communities with a decent pub at their heart are stronger for it because people from all walks of life mix and socialise there.

"While many local services and shops are closing down, there are clear opportunities for reinventing what a pub can be. I want to work with locals to give them what they most want and need and create a place where they all feel welcome. That’s the foundation for building a pub that will survive. I need to prove that 21st century pubs can serve their communities and thrive.”

The chef has elevated pub food to Michelin-star standards at two premises, launched a festival around pub grub - which stopped off at Roundhay Park in Leeds - and converted one local into a part-time butchers.

BBC Two viewers will be familiar with Kerridge from various cooking shows for the channel but the new series is a departure for the publican and aims to showcase his business flair for the first time.

Controller of BBC Two, Patrick Holland, said: “Tom has set himself a big challenge in his fight to save Britain’s pubs, but with his extensive knowledge of the industry and his fresh ideas, Tom has the foundations to inspire and restore each local back to its previous success. With Britain’s pubs on the decline, it has never been more important to shine a light on one of our most treasured British traditions.”

Kerridge is chef patron of the two Michelin-starred pub The Hand & Flowers, the one Michelin-starred pub The Coach and his pub and butcher’s shop, The Butcher’s Tap, all in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He is also chef patron of Kerridge’s Bar & Grill in the five-star Corinthia London.

He has presented many series for BBC Two, including Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food, Lose Weight For Good, Top of the Shop and Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start. His latest cookery series, Lose Weight And Get Fit, is also due for transmission on BBC Two in 2020.