AYBE it’s down to the success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies and the BBC series they helped to inspire, or perhaps its partly due to Prunella Scales, Timothy West and their Great Canal Journeys, but there currently seems to be a trend for a new type of TV travelogue involving sending some of Britain’s veteran celebrities off on holiday together.
The most recent entry in this subgenre though is A Celebrity Taste of Italy. If you’ve missed the first two episodes, it features actress Rula Lenska, presenter Johnny Ball, Dad’s Army star and sometime EastEnder Ian Lavender, fitness guru Diana ‘the Green Goddess’ Moran, and a woman with extensive experience of TV travel, former Wish You Were Here...? host Judith Chalmers.
Together, they’ve moved into a Tuscan villa to sample the delights of Italian life and learn to cook some of the country’s classic dishes. So far, the celebs have met the Italian aristocrat whose family invented Chianti, a world-class gelato maker and a flirty local fisherman who seemed to have taken a bit of a shine to Rula. Meanwhile, Judith has met plenty of British tourists, most of whom seemed to want a selfie with her. Some of which must have surely ended up on social media with the caption ‘Wish You Were Here?’.
Now, this week the quintet wants an authentic Italian experience – and if they can combine it with a spot of pampering, so much the better. Rula and Diana head to the local sulphur springs to get slathered in volcanic mud, which may or may not contain the secrets of eternal youth, while Johnny and Judith have an olive-oil massage.
But the relaxing day takes a stressful turn when Ian is taken ill, forcing him to bring his Italian adventure to a premature end. Once they’ve regrouped, the remaining four venture off the tourist trail to find out what real Italians do – but was a tasting session where they drink olive oil what they had in mind?
Pasta, of course, is also on the menu as Judith gets a one-toone masterclass on how to make her husband’s favourite dish.
Then, the gang spend a night at the opera in the nearby city of Lucca, but will they enjoy this more cultured end to the latest leg of their grand tour?
And given that this is the penultimate episode, will the foursome all be experts in Italian cuisine by next week’s finale?