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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In praise of "The Supersizers..."

Somebody told me that the BBC now name their programmes with search engine optimization in mind. Maybe that's how they ended up with "The Supersizers Go....", a terrible name that undersells the only appointment TV in our house at the moment.

It's the standard approach - a spoonful of celebrity sugar makes the medicine go down - except Sue Perkins and Giles Coren aren't quite red carpet material, probably by their own choice. In each show they travel back to some bygone era and live with its diet for a week. This provides ample opportunities for kitchen gore. We've seen chefs attempt to hold back the bilious tide while trying to recreate recipes for which their forebears won medals. We've seen how during the Restoration dining was a gross display of wealth and power. We've seen how long an eel continues objecting after it's been chopped in two.

Last night they went back to the 70s, to the land of Black Tower hock, half a bottle of spirits for each guest, food covered in gelatine and cigars on Concorde. The learning was that despite the apparent heaviness and fattiness of the fare, people were actually slimmer in those days. This could be, as Coren pointed out, because in those days there was something called manual labour.

Perkins and Coren are a brilliant team, as charming and funny as anyone on British TV. They're both fast talkers but they manage not to step on each other's lines or upstage each other. Presumably they don't need a scriptwriter to come up with observations like "Advocaat. A drink made from lawyers." Whatever they're presented with they attack with relish and aren't afraid to enjoy things that are bad for you.

And I know they send themselves up but am I alone in detecting a distinct strain of what breakfast TV producers call sexual chemistry? And I know they're both spoken for in different ways but there are some people who turn into flirts as soon as they hear the words "turn over".

You can watch it here.