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Back in Time for the Corner Shop – BBC2

The Ardern family Back in Time for the Corner Shop
(Image credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media Ltd/Paul Husband)

Sara Cox and historian Polly Russell help a Sheffield family time-travel in the latest of BBC2’s history series, Back in Time for the Corner Shop

Most of us live near a corner shop and they’re usually jam-packed with confectionery, convenience food and booze. But in BBC2’s latest Back in Time for… series, Back in Time for the Corner Shop, hosted by Sara Cox and historian Polly Russell, Sheffield family the Arderns step back in time to run a traditional corner shop, experiencing the highs and lows of life behind the counter through 100 years of shopkeeping.

In the first episode, they’re transported back to 1897, to a time long before fridges, tills or store cards, when a hearty meal meant a corned-mutton or Marmite-style broth!

We get to see how devastating food shortages during World War One left shelves bare, while shopkeepers threw peace parties for locals to celebrate the end of the war.

Here, dad Dave, 57, mum Jo, 50, and their three children, 21-year-old son Sam, daughter Olivia, 16, and youngest son Ben, who turned 13 during filming, tell TV Times about the pressure of being a shopkeeper in Victorian times and how the whole experience brought them closer…

Sara Cox, Polly Russell and the Ardens Back in Time for the Corner Shop

Sara Cox and historian Polly Russell help the Ardern family go Back in Time for the Corner Shop on BBC2

Why did you decide to take part in Back in Time for the Corner shop?

Jo: We’d had quite an up-and-down year.

My mum and Dave’s mum were ill and I turned 50.

So I decided to apply on a whim, not thinking for one minute we’d get picked!

Olivia: We’d watched some of the Back in Time for… series before and loved them, so when Mum signed us up for it, I thought it would be an amazing experience!

What was the most difficult era to live through?

Dave: We struggled at the beginning with the Victorian era (pictured top).

We had to learn to cut sugar from a cone, weigh out ingredients and adapt to all the changes that were happening at the time.

Jo: Yes, there were so many changes in that first era.

One minute you got food and luxuries and the next minute you didn’t.

There were a lot of new tasks to learn and a pressure to make money.

It was quite a skilled profession back then and so far removed from what we’re used to now.

But it was very frustrating for me at times because, as a woman, I was always expected to be in the kitchen out the back, cooking!

And which was the most enjoyable era?

Jo: Probably the 1970s, because it brought back memories of when I was a child.

There were lots of terrible things happening with power cuts and job losses, but everyone just got on with it.

Ben: The 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were my favourites.

There was new technology and games, so there were more options for teenagers.

But they were still social games, so you stayed together as a family.

For full listings, see our TV Guide.

TV Times rating: ****