channel Hopping

The hunt for novelty in cookery programmes is on. as ever more hours of television are devoted to the blackened arts of the TV kitchen. The winning formulas have tended to fall into two basic groups: that shows which pit amateur against amateur (Masterchef; Ready. Steady. Cook.’), and series built around an eccentric presenter (anything with Keith Floyd). Perhaps some day the two formats will collide. and Jennifer and Clarissa. aka Two For Ladies. will form a tag wrestling team that takes on all-comers.

In the new series TV Dinners (Channel 4, Thursdays). your maitre d' for the evening cleaves to the eccentric school of television presentation. Roll this name round your palate: Hugh Feamley-Whittingstall. That’s a gamey. well-hung name if ever there was one. He is certainly quite posh but his gimmick is that he looks like a shock- haired maths student from the winning side of University Challenge. rather than a serious foodie.

In the first programme Hugh owned up to cooking ox-tail only a couple of times a year. so perhaps he is a lightweight after all. He wouldn‘t have lasted to the first bell against Clarissa and Jennifer. But for Winn. a hearty country cook from the Yorkshire Dales. tail of ox was on the menu at least twice a month.

Hugh bowed down before the richness of her stock. whose secret ingredient was venison bones from Harvey Nicks. Whenever her hapless husband Mike went to London on business. he was

obliged to return with a bloodied parcel in his briefcase. He may have brought home the bacon but it was Winn who cooked it. and probably her husband’s goose too if he stepped out of line.

TV Dinners is an exceedingly simple idea, but sort of fun. Hugh drops in on

amateur cooks who are hosting a dinner

party and helps out with a few of the more menial tasks around the kitchen while they prepare a fabulous spread. Winn, a former contestant on

Musterchef. was not impressed with her

cornmis chef and even had to show Hugh how to peel a potato to her specification. This perfectionism was

only a jugged hare's breadth away from

obsession. You got the feeling that Mike would need to keep his head down if he was to survive until pud.

After two series of Lenny Henry‘s restaurant sitcom. Chet! (BBCI. Mondays). his character Gareth Blackstock returns but swiftly decides he can no longer stand the heat and exits from the kitchen of Le (‘luiteau Anglois. Meanwhile his wife has vacated their marriage. citing his adulterous relationship with a set of Le Creuset pans as grounds for irretrievable breakdown.

Gareth promises to hang up his chequered trousers if she‘ll return. but the title of the series suggests he'll be back barking orders at his juniors before long. Let‘s hope so; Chef? only reaches the boil when the consommé runs out and there are thirty covers out on the floor baying for blood or at least gravy. lf Gareth doesn‘t get back in that kitchen pronto. this is a ‘com‘ in danger of losing the ‘sit' which makes it funny.

Perhaps Gareth should spend some relaxing time with wine buff Malcolm Gluck. who conveniently has a name which sounds like a glass being topped up and a demeanour as chilled as a crisp Australian Chardonnay. ln Gluck,

Lenny Henry as Chet: it you can’t stand the heat . . .

Gluck, Gluck (BBC2. Fridays). he aims to praise wine but debunk the myths surrounding its appreciation. As author of The Guardian‘s ‘Superplonk‘ column. Gluck is not afraid of finding merit in a £2.99 house wine from Tesco. as long as it represents value. He is to wine. what horse racing pundit John McCririck is to on-course betting - the punter's friend.

Still. Gluck is not afraid to wax fruity when it comes to describing a tasting experience. ‘The control and rusticity and its tannin and. yeah. it does give a rough ride over the teeth but that means it‘s great with food.‘ he rhapsodises

over a bottle of Grenache. before

concluding: ‘lt‘s got a hell of a lot of personality.’ Elsewhere. another buff nosed out a bottle of Sauvignon blanc with the properties of ‘a ripe. sweaty

shirt‘. This was not a criticism.

If you’re the kind of person that checks the alcohol content on the label. rather than whether the vineyard had a southern-facing aspect. then this series may contain a little more information than you require. But after watching the boyishly enthusiastic Gluck pour himself yet another glass ~ and. hey. I thought these guys weren't meant to swallow it was hard to resist the temptation to nip out to the off-licence. (Eddie Gibb)


I Friends With Gaby (Channel 4) Fri 29 Nov. 9—10pm. Emerging from the wreakage of her flop chat show. Gaby Roslin returns for a one-off interview with the three male leads from the hit US sitcom Friends. Expect maximum flirtation and minimum interrogation. I Hetty Walnthropp Investigates (BBCl) Fri 29 Nov. 9.30—10.20pm. The fluffy- hatted OAP detective (Patricia Routledge) packs her bus pass and sets out for another series of adventures. bringing the baddies to book. I the Saga ot Evolution (Channel 4) Sat 30 Nov. 8-9pm. Three-part series about the work of Swedish science photographer Lennon Nilsson who takes us back to the womb in the first programme. I The Irltlsh comedy IWII’O! (Scottish) Sat 30 Nov. 8.45-1 lpm. Jonathan Ross dons the shiny suit and presean this years love-in for funny folk. I the Stone of Destiny (BBC2) Sat 30 Nov. 9-9.30pm. Andrew 0' Hagan. author of The Missing. kicks off an evening of programmes on the return of the famous lump of masonry to Scotland. I Splrtts ot the Jaguar (BBC2) Sun I

Dec. 5.55—6.45pm. New wildlife series about the Caribbean and Central America. I Ponce. (tuners, Actlon! (Scottish) Mon 2 Dec. 8.30—9pm. First of a two-part special in which Alastair Stewart shadows helicopter news journalist Bob Tur who captured the famous footage of OJ Simpson's car chase with the police.

I A Room Wlth No Views (BBC2) Mon 2 Dec. ll.lS-l 1.45pm. New series running through this week which puts two people with diametrically opposed

the Adam and Joe Show: homemade TV treat the Brltlsh Wayne and Barth

opinions in a room together and lets them argue it out. In the first programme. John Jordan. the founder of Men and Porn self- help group argues that pomography is harmful. while Chris Tame of the Libertarian Alliance doesn’t see the problem.

I Hlllshorough (Scouish) Thurs 5 Dec. 9-] 1.40pm (including News at Ten). Jimmy McGovern's dramatised reconstruction of the stadium disaster and its aftermath. See feature.

I The Adam and Joe Show (Channel 4) Fri () Dec. l2. l()- l 2.40am. From the makers of 'Iitkcoi'cr TV and .llun/tuttun (11th comes another exercise in low- budget television which takes the li'ttl'llr'h‘ World idea and creates a TV station in a Brixton bedsit.

I Equinox (Channel 4) Sun 8 Dec. 7—8pm. The science documentary series looks at the growing problem of ‘cybercrime‘ where money can be moved electronically into the accounts of the robbers. often from a different continent. I Human Rights, Human Wrongs (BBC2) Sun 8 Dec. 9. lO—9.20pm. Series of short films presented by BBC foreign news editor John Simpson running throughout this week to mark International Human Rights Day on Tuesday.

I Secret Lives (Channel 4) Mon 9 Dec. 9- IOpm. The documentary examines the life of World War ll flying ace Douglas Bader who lost his legs but became a hero. Or was he?

I Fasten Your Seathelt (BBCI) Tue 10 Dec. 7-7.30pm. Jill Dando becomes an air stewardess in a new show which turns the tables on the Holiday programme team to see how they fare working in the travel industry.

I Bangladesh 25: How the West was Won (BBC2) Thurs l2 Dec. 9.30-l0.20pm. Marking the anniversary of the partition of Pakistan. creating the new nation of Bangladesh. the first of two documentaries charts the rise of the Bengali national movement then and now.

“The List 29 Nov-l2 Dec I996