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Jamie's not so Great in Britain

GIVING Jamie Oliver a noisy army truck to drive was like putting a bell on him.

Jamie Oliver's Great Britain (CH4) Death in Paradise (BBC1) Now it's Personal (RTE1)

Because the world isn't changed by famous people with opinions. It's changed by grassroots movements, slow-moving political processes and bearded demagogues

Cultural revolutions are never started by mockney chefs in customised lorries ("a kitchen on wheels").

So, thus far the public have responded to Jamie Oliver's food evangelism by deep-frying it, microwaving it and dousing in Marmite.

But he doesn't give up easily, and in this series he tries another tack - making the British think they have a food culture.

He meets multi-generational fishing families, Italian-Welsh foodies and Yemeni-Welsh lady chefs who demonstrate family recipes. Then Jamie makes feasts themed on old British favourites, all the time waffling enthusiastically like a womble imitating a Guy Ritchie villain.

The food looked lovely and Jamie is likeable enough.

On the downside, he twice suggested that the weather was so nice he was going to don a mankini. This forced me to imagine him in a mankini. "AGH MY IMAGINATION!" I shrieked in pain, before dipping a frozen Mars bar in brown sauce (my dinner).

On BBC1 another Englishman was eating fancy food with far less enthusiasm. It was detective Richard Poole of Death in Paradise (Ben Miller), a grumpy little Englander who solves murders on a sunny Caribbean island.

Poole is so English he wears a suit in 40-degree heat, craves roast beef instead of crab meat, speaks in clipped RP tones and doesn't have a stiff upper lip so much as a stiff whole head.

The other characters spend most of their time shaking their heads in an exaggerated fashion at how uptight and English Poole is ("He's English!" sing-songs his partner as though auditioning for a sitcom of that name).

The only way Poole could be more English would be if he donned a Beefeater costume and hired the Queen as his sidekick (note to self: pitch a film called Beefeater and Queenie solve Crime in the Colonies).

Indeed, there's a touch of colonial smugness about Death in Paradise.

In last night's episode, Poole convinces some superstitious colleagues to use science to solve a murder instead of the predictions of a voodoo lady.

In the end, Poole proves that the voodoo lady was right all along -- the baddie was the officious posho with a mysterious past and a scar on his cheek (he was one evil moustache short of being the most obvious villain in fiction).

Poole tucks into some roast beef and everyone has a great laugh. Ultimately fish out of water are boring. They flap about for a while before succumbing to the warm embrace of death. And so too, I suspect, will Death in Paradise.

Now It's Personal was a fish-out-of-water documentary in which journalist Emer O'Kelly, a critic of stay-at-home mothers, spent time with a few of them for some antagonistic learning.

It's a rich subject but it got lost in moments of artificial silliness ... like when Emer was entrusted with an electronic weeping doll.

The doll made the most coherent points. "WAAAAH!" it said.

The others should just have stopped disagreeing to bond over what they had in common: a shared love of being judgemental (I don't blame them -- I love it too!).



jamie oliver's great britain HHHII death in paradise HHIII now it's personal HHIII


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