Calling in the cameras to save you from the economic gloom is like Tokyo summoning Godzilla to chase off Moth-Ra. You might solve one problem, but you've still got a mile-high mutant lizard breathing lightning everywhere.

The lizard in the room for Village SOS (BBC One, Wednesday 8pm) was Sarah Beeny, a whiny media type from That London who descended in a plague of platitudes on the peasantry of Tideswell.

The final roll of the dice for this dying Peak District outpost was Taste Tideswell, an ambitious plan to create a 'foodie destination' centred round a new cookery school needing £15,000 a month just to stay afloat. Lord Coe of the bid was radish-headed tour guide Pete, flanked by farmer Rob, churchwarden Juliet and, quaintly, management consultant Phil. "Food's great," Pete argued persuasively, dispelling fears he moonlighted as the village idiot.

Marketing man Tim was parachuted in as the real brains. He'd overseen the launch of Dolmio back when those puppets were just a creepy, slightly racist twinkle in the eye of an ad-land creative.

"It's a bit real," Tim murmured as he packed his family into cold storage and headed for Derbyshire to 'engage' with the village by dressing as a Christmas pudding. Worryingly, the dissenters included the high street's few surviving retailers, who at first saw the scheme as unwelcome competition. Wreathed in mist and recessionary fug, battleaxe baker Carol was naysayer in chief. She seemed keen to stuff Tim into a giant Wicker Man.

Even the backers, Juliet conceded, "don't really know what they're doing". But Tim overcame the cynicism with his know-how, understated drive and no little patience. At last even Carol signed up to the umbrella Tideswell tag drawn up to target the mults.

Told over the course of a year, this crash-course in grass-roots branding had impressive results reversing, for the time being, the domino effect of high street closures.

Yet few places hit the jackpot as Tideswell had with a £430,000 grant from the lottery. And in the quest for a legacy, that gleaming cookery school could prove to be less of a mutant lizard than a pasty white elephant.

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