| 4°C Dublin

Heston's show is no sweet treat

It's hard to dislike Heston Blumenthal.

He's not as nauseating as Gordon Ramsay, as gratingly blokey as Jamie Oliver or as plain irritating as Nigella Lawson.

He's so enthusiastic about what he does that criticising him feels a bit like kicking a puppy after it's been hit by a car.

All told, he seems to be a good egg.

He even looks like a good egg, so much so that you're tempted to crack his shaved, spherical bonce with a big spoon and stick a piece of toast into his brain.

Although god knows what it would taste like; knowing Heston, probably raspberry jam.

Any man who can dream up edible cutlery, snail porridge and mulled wine that makes the drinker snort steam through their nose like a cartoon bull -- as he did on a Christmas special a few years back -- has to be worthy of some regard.

It's a lot easier, however, to dislike his latest series, Heston's Fantastical Food.

What we have here is a half-baked concept that climbs to the uppermost peak of Mount Sillymanjaro and then hurls itself, grinning like a fool, into a fathomless sea of pointlessness.

Heston's Fantastical Food is all about making food bigger -- last week he made the world's largest cup of tea and packet of biscuits, just because he can -- yet the most supersized thing on the menu was Heston's ego.

"I want to bring back all the magic of the sweet shop," he declared last night.

So why doesn't he just open one of his own? I imagine he could afford it. But that would be too simple for Heston.

What he wanted to do was recreate Willy Wonka's chocolate factory (less than magically, inside a town hall), complete with an edible garden and lickable paintings.

By way of preparation, he visited a Nestle factory.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that nobody working there wears a top hat, a bow tie and a purple velvet jacket, or bursts into a sudden verse of Pure Imagination between watching Rolos rolling off the production line.

There were no oompa loompas either, so Heston hand-picked some helpers from a group of people who'd entered a little competition he devised to come up with daftest combination of flavours imaginable.

There was more padding here than you'd find in a sofa shop, and when the big unveiling finally arrived it was a bit of a let-down.

The problem was, Heston didn't really make giant liquorice allsorts; he made something that looked like them -- because liquorice Allsorts aren't made of marshmallow and blackcurrant jelly.

Nor, for that matter, are jelly babies made of jelly. Heston's were, though, and they looked creepily unappetising.

Heston's programmes are usually a bit of fun, but this was long-winded and rampantly self-indulgent.

All that's left now is for Heston to make a life-sized chocolate version of himself and eat it.

The most disconcerting thing about Inside the Body Beautiful wasn't the sight of a young woman's breasts being sliced open during enlargement surgery or a young man having his skull peeled like an orange for a hair transplant, but the fact that everyone featured seemed to be an idiot.

I'm not talking about everyday vanity and self-obsession; this was the kind of bone-deep, ingrained idiocy that a brain transplant wouldn't cure.

The woman under the knife was 24-year-old Lucy. She lost four stone through dieting and was dismayed that her breast-size had diminished.

As a doctor pointed out, breasts are made of fat, so when the rest of you shrinks, they do too.

Still, Lucy was Einstein compared to Kirsty (28), who had Botox treatment for wrinkles, which she'd acquired through lying on a sunbed four times a week, and Niall (20), a man so desperate to have a tan for his holiday to Ibiza that he injected himself with an illegal chemical he'd bought over the internet.

To be honest, he would have been better off just losing the stupid little backwards-facing baseball cap he wore.

heston's fantastical food HIIII inside the body beautiful HHHII