Sunday October 31/99, BBC 2 18.40
LAST ORDERS FOR THE LOCAL
They may be part of the British way of life, but many local pubs are facing a bleak future. New bar and pub chains, backed by huge investments from the big brewers are increasingly hard for locals to compete with. And the dream of owning their own pub has turned into a nightmare for many landlords.
Ten years ago the government tried to break the power of the big brewers. This sparked off a revolution which has seen huge numbers of pubs change hands and a Japanese bank emerge as Britain's biggest pub landlord.
But through all the changes the big brewers have become even bigger and stronger, the price of a pint keeps rising, many publicans are in despair and the local pubs so cherished by TV scriptwriters have found it hard to survive. Nils Blythe asks: can the local boozer stay in business?
France and Britain have been on the brink of a trade war over beef. The French say they are worried over possible food contamination, and are unwilling to import British beef. But the British suspect it's just a ruse to protect France's powerful agriculture lobby. The result has been a bitter political row, farmers' demonstrations in both countries, and serious cracks in the veneer of European unity. The Money Programme asks: can Europe's single market survive in the long term?