Image for America on a Plate: The Story of the DinerNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Writer and broadcaster Stephen Smith re-envisions the story of 20th-century American culture through its most iconic institution - the diner. Whether Edward Hopper's Nighthawks or the infamous encounter between Pacino and de Niro in Heat, these gleaming, gaudy shacks are at the absolute heart of the American vision.

Stephen embarks on a girth-busting road journey that takes him to some of America's most iconic diners. He meets the film-makers and singers who have immortalised them, and looks at the role diners have played not only in America's greatest paintings and movies, but also in the fight against racial oppression and the chain restaurants' global takeover.

For Stephen, it is because the diner is the last vestige of a vital part of the American psyche - the frontier. Like the Dodge City saloon it is a place where strangers are thrown together, where normal rules are suspended and anything can happen. And it is this crackle of potentially violent and sexual energy that have drawn so many artists to the diner, and made it not a convenient setting but an engine room of 20th-century American culture.

Last on

Tue 22 Apr 2014 00:00 BBC Four

  • All American season

    All American season

    This programme is part of All American, a BBC Four season about US culture. You can also watch further programmes from the BBC archives, online and in full, in the All American Collection.

    Go to the BBC Four All American Collection

Credits

Presenter
Stephen Smith
Executive Producer
Jonty Claypole
Director
Colette Camden
Producer
Colette Camden

Broadcasts

Featured in...

  • All American

    A collection of classic BBC programmes about US culture. Available to watch online.

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