Saturday 22 October 2016

Television review: Nigella and the Bucks ride on

* Simply Nigella (BBC2)
* Hardy Bucks Ride Again (RTE2)
* Six Nations Rugby (TV3)

Published 16/11/2015 | 02:30

Illustration Jim cogan
Illustration Jim cogan

So Simply Nigella has now moved from a general mood of suggestiveness to something more explicit.

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So she's making this chocolate cake - "strew joyously with chopped pistachios and dried rose petals or whatever your heart desires" - and the music playing in the background is nothing less than Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On, which is not so much a song about sex, as sex itself.

So . . . by the way, you see what I'm doing here, starting each new paragraph with "So"? Everybody is doing this now.

"So" used to signal the continuation of something, not the start. You'd be in the middle of a story and it would take a new turn - "so the next thing I know, I'm watching Nigella". Or you'd be telling a story and you'd be interrupted and then you'd resume - "so as I was saying . . . "

So that all's gone now, to be replaced by this more assertive "so". At the Web Summit, you'd see some dude being interviewed and he's asked what his billion-dollar company does, other than making him a billion dollars, and he goes, "So it provides solutions . . . "

So I guess the effect is to suggest that the mind of the speaker is constantly working, that with each new question he is asked, he is not starting afresh, as it were, but continuing with this interior narrative that is the mark of the truly vibrant intellect.

So you've just dropped in on him for a while, with your little question, your little interruption, but for him the great conversation is a neverending thing.

So apart from giving the sentence a bit of a kick-start, it has this subtle effect of elevating and distancing the speaker.

So I guess that is why everybody is doing it. Though why nobody has looked into it until now, is puzzling.

So I guess it's one of those things that is really obvious but that nobody bothers mentioning, like the way that the aforementioned Let's Get it On was, shall we say, an inspiration for Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud.

Indeed I was hoping that Nigella, as she was being "seduced by the splendid squidginess of this cake", might have shared her feelings on this, wondering if there was a moment in the making of Thinking Out Loud when someone felt that there was perhaps a little too much of the restless spirit of Marvin Gaye in the room, and said to Ed Sheeran something like, "ah for jaysus sake Ed . . . "

But that wouldn't be Nigella's way. Like a lot of people she somehow gets through life completely indifferent to whether one song sounds very like another song. Though she might re-consider this passive approach if she knew that on BBC Northern Ireland the triumphant final scenes of her show with the chocolate cake standing there ready to be devoured, and Let's Get It On working its magic, was completely destroyed by some chirpy chap with a Northern accent talking over it, telling us that we can re-live the "classic series" of the 1980s called Cook With Claire at

So cheers for that, mate.


Nor would Nigella, for all her "splendid squidginess", be getting her message across in the manner of Eddie's girlfriend in Hardy Bucks Ride Again, who tells Eddie that her "fanny is fluttering like an epileptic butterfly, like".

Regular readers will know that I regard the Hardy Bucks as documentarians rather than dramatists, because their vision of Ireland is so searingly true. They challenge us too, with a scene featuring an inter-racial gay wedding of two men who, for complicated reasons, are only pretending to be gay - a hard case to be sure, but we thank them for their contribution.

And we can be hard too, on RTE, but in Hardy Bucks they have a funny programme that is actually funny, and that is an extraordinary thing.

We just wish they had taken our advice recently in relation to bidding for sports rights - essentially you should never not bid for sports rights, and ideally you should never bid less than TV3, who last week beat RTE to the Six Nations Rugby.

Ryle Nugent of RTE argued that they had put their "heart and soul" into the rugby.

So I would say to Ryle that next time they need money. Not heart and soul, money.

Just money.

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