Have you seen Channel 4’s Love Thy Neighbour? The idea is that one of 12 families will win a £300,000 cottage in the idyllic village of Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales, the winner being chosen by a vote by the village itself.
The first programme, which aired on Saturday, featured, inevitably, a black couple and their adorable young children, chosen by the programme makers, no doubt, because the population of Grassington appears to be 100% white. I squirmed in my seat.
People who live in London are habituated to hearing every kind of language on the street. Opposite us, we now have the Pimlico Mas Bazar, a halal butchers and grocers, which attracts a clientele of elegantly dressed men in embroidered caps and heavily veiled women. Its vegetables could have done duty on a medieval battlefield, judging from the number of spikes-even the children of the owners won’t admit to eating them. But experiences that seem normal to us would be exotic in the countryside.
I suspect that the families participating in the series have underestimated the challenge of swapping urban amenities for rural seclusion. Whoever wins, I fear the cottage will be on the market again within a year.