From reality TV to fictional series: How the Devonshire Cream Tea claims its fame on TV

Sarah Parker
Authored by Sarah Parker
Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 14:03

One of Devon’s claims to fame is perhaps its widely beloved Devonshire Cream Tea. Cafés and restaurants across the world offer an afternoon tea option which has an uncanny resemblance to that of the Devonshire Cream Tea. Served with a pot of tea and a scone with jam and clotted cream, this recipe has not only made its way across the world but onto our screens too. We’ll take a look at some of these appearances below.

The Great British Bake Off

A UK favourite – this reality TV show follows the journey of contestants who bake their way to be crowned as Britain's best amateur baker. The results produced by contestants are enough to make you want to dig your flour out of the cupboard and start baking. This show does, however, go beyond baking. Contestants can be seen producing layers of sweet treats in many forms, often taking unique shapes - some in the figure of delicately decorated faces. Though, perhaps one of the well-anticipated sweet treats for residents in Devon is the afternoon tea produced for a tea party episode in season 1. Making its way onto a baking programme says a lot about Cream Tea – it’s loved by amateurs and professionals alike and can be enjoyed by many.

The Crown

As one of the biggest shows on Netflix, The Crown follows the life of Queen Elizabeth and her journey as Queen. Other royal members, including the Queen’s sister, also make their debut on screen and credit can be given to the producers and cast for their commendable portrayal of such important UK figures. One of the most noticeable personality differences is between Queen Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret. Whereas the Queen can be seen doing business with her country’s leader, sometimes with a spot of the famous Cream Tea, Princess Margaret can be seen partying with a cigarette to hand.

Perhaps, if in this series, Princess Margaret had traded her eccentric parties for business afternoon tea and ditched the cigarettes for white dry siberia, an oral smokeless tobacco product, her character would have had less of a stark contrast to the Queen. It's a difficult one to call for the past, where smoking was more common. Now, alongside a wider trend for alternatives to smoking such as snus, we also see less smoking among royals. Nevertheless, the distinctions between these two characters are perhaps what makes this series so interesting, and although Cream Tea isn’t exactly the focal point, it still makes its debut.


Recorded as the most-watched series on Netflix, this 2020 release followed the life of a young girl, Daphne, who was presented to society to find a man she would marry. Seen dressed in elegant ball gowns and walking the halls of extravagant manors, the characters can often be seen sat enjoying an afternoon tea. This perhaps labels afternoon as a higher-class citizen activity, seemingly similar to The Crown.

All in all, the concept of Cream Tea has made its way across the world and on our television screens, somewhat evolving along the way. Seen in the hands of prestigious people like The Queen in the crown, to humble residents of the UK in The Great British Bake Off, these programmes go a long way to show the popularity of the afternoon tea.