Catch Up TV reviews: Jamie Cooks Italy, Saving Planet Earth, Celebrity Big Brother
James R | On 19, Aug 2018
Jamie Cooks Italy (All 4)
Jamie Oliver steps into the background of this new cooking series, and that generous step makes for a mouth-watering slice of Italian cuisine. Touring the country to find new ideas, recipes and ingredients, he begins with the Aeolian Islands – specifically, Salina – where everyone seems to love capers served with everything. He and his local guide and translator gleefully gulp down the dishes they encounter, while Oliver mostly cheers on enthusiastically from the sidelines as we see residents preparing their signature meals, such as the endearing Nonna, whose stuffed squid served in tomato salsa will have you drooling all over your TV remote. Only 30 minutes long, it’s hard to fault this gorgeous and easily digestible bit of food porn.
Saving Planet Earth (All 4)
“This is the story of an apocalypse avoided,” intones David Tennant at the start of this Channel 4 documentary. In an age of climate change denial and a dangerously dislocated environment, there’s something wonderfully reassuring about hearing that Scottish voice telling us we did something right for the planet – and the following hour is a fascinating dip into the history behind humankind solving the first great man-made threat to our planet’s environment: the hole in the ozone layer. We’re taken from the invention of CFCs to the giddy industrial acceptance of its advantages and quickly on to the warnings of the damage it was doing to the ozone layer, which protects Earth from UV radiation. In time, a world united and managed to stop the irreversible happening. In 2018, so-called fear-mongering doesn’t seem to work, so maybe something more inspiring might.
Celebrity Big Brother (My5)
From something inspiring to, well, the return of Celebrity Big Brother. Channel 5 deserve some credit to have revived the Channel 4 reality series into its own piece of tabloid fodder – a resurrection and brand repositioning that took place long before Love Island became a sensation. Hot off the back of ITV’s dating programme wooing viewers in droves, Channel 5 will be hoping for a similar take-up with its veteran format among a new generation of viewers.
Perversely, it’s got to the point where the broadcaster understands that Celebrity Big Brother is more interesting than its vanilla flavour, as it gives it the angle to rival Love Island’s romantic hook. The series has based 2018’s picks around those caught in the “eye of the (media) storm”, from TOWIE’s Dan Osborne and Emmerdale’s Rozanne Pallet to former Cheers star Kirstie Alley and “Psychic” Sally Morgan, as well as Rodrigo “Ken Doll” Alves, Chloe Ayling (kidnapped in Italy last year), Ryan “Coronation Street” Thomas, footballer Jermaine Pennant, comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli, US TV veteran Natalie Nunn, Ben “Married At First Sight” Jardine and, perhaps most randomly, Nick “Rogue Trader” Leeson. Oh, and there’s Love Islander Gabby Allen for good measure.
This year, more explicitly than ever, it presents us with a show hingeing on the divide between those who aren’t famous and those who once sort of were. As speculation surrounds Stormy Daniels’ decision not to appear on the show, there’s a glimpse of what was in store, as the producers aim for something brazenly topical: a Presidential-themed CBB, with Kirstie Alley named POTUS and given her own private White House in the house’s back garden. It’s an admittedly neat gimmick, designed to sharpen tensions between those who position themselves as more privileged than others, and it gives this year’s CBB the most potential in recent memory for some curious insight into human behaviour.
But there’s no point pretending this isn’t lowest common denominator telly. Within days of the season’s premiere, Rodrigo has been warned about using “racially charged” language – he’ll be kicked out immediately if he does it again – and the series has issued a statement on the Stormy scandal on social media, disagreeing with her lawyers’ account of events. Some things never change.