If you can’t stand the heat, don’t worry, there’s plenty go­ing on in the kitchen…

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

Yes, it’s that time of the year again when the telly gods de­cide that we should be all out sun­ning our­selves in the gar­den rather than curl­ing up in front of the box. Those pesky deities must not know that we live on a wind-lashed is­land in the Western At­lantic. That we don’t have a sum­mer as it’s con­ven­tion­ally un­der­stood in the rest of the world. That an Ir­ish sum­mer lasts a week­end, not a quar­ter of the year. And that we need good qual­ity TV to get us through the pain of miss­ing out on an en­tire sea­son. But the telly gods ob­vi­ously spend their sum­mers get­ting a tan in Greece. So we can look for­ward to frothy fillers in­stead of tele­vi­sual meat over the com­ing months.

By the way, I’m not talk­ing metaphor­i­cally, as BBC2 have got no less than five cook­ery shows for ea­ger food­ies. They are: Nigella Law­son’s new show based on Ital­ian cook­ing, Nigel­lis­sima, a new pro­gramme about eat­ing well fronted by the Hairy Bik­ers, Rick Stein’s tour of In­dia, a show ex­plor­ing the cui­sine of China, and the re­turn of the Great Bri­tish Bake-off. How some­one thought Nigel­lis­sima might be a good ti­tle for a progamme is be­yond me. It sounds like some­thing quite nasty you might catch in the swim­ming pool rather than a cook­ery show. As for the Hairy Bik­ers, it strikes me that hav­ing your din­ner cooked by a pair of over­weight, hir­sute, mid­dle- aged men who have just spent a cou­ple of hours rid­ing their mo­tor­bikes isn’t par­tic­u­larly ap­petis­ing. The Great Bri­tish Bake Off, on the other hand, is typ­i­cal of the new gung-ho style of com­pet­i­tive cook­ery show. Such a sur­feit of gas­tro­nomic riches puts even RTÉ One, which seems to pro­duce a new cook­ery show ev­ery sec­ond week, to shame. At least the ex­otic lo­ca­tions in Rick Stein’s In­dian ad­ven­ture and Ken Hom and Ching-he Haung’s Chi­nese cook­ery show are con­so­la­tion for those of us who rather eat­ing than look­ing at peo­ple mak­ing food.

Cook­ery shows have their place on the TV, in a way that DIY shows, or any­thing with Craig Doyle in it, re­ally don’t. But isn’t it time we went on a diet? Af­ter all, who has time to get up, have a shower, drop the kids off at school, go to work, take the bins out, pay the bills, do the shop­ping, cook the din­ner and then watch Rachel, Gor­don, Jamie, Nigella, Rick, So­phie, Cather­ine, Donal, dif­fer­ent Rachel, Lor­raine, Antony… The list goes on. Some­times less is more, and a hang sanger, a cou­ple of boiled eggs and an ap­ple is all you need for your rain-soaked pic­nic.


Five su­per­mar­ket work­ers from Leeds win the lot­tery and see their lives turned up­side down in this su­pe­rior drama writ­ten by Kay Mel­lor. A mar­vel­lous cast is headed by Ti­mothy Spall and Joanna Page.

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