Inside The Christmas Factory
Gino’s Italian Express
Never mind ‘Ho-ho-ho’. Inside The Christmas Factory (BBC2) rang with Gregg Wallace’s manic ‘Ah-ha-ha-ha! Hah hah hah!’
That bizarre hybrid of Alan Partridge’s ‘A-ha!’ and Sid James’s dirty chuckle is unnerving at the best of times but Gregg was so high on festive cheer that he was becoming scary.
He grabbed a rubber mallet, whacking it against steel vats and tables, and waggled his head frantically. With his bald head, he looked like a pair of googly eyes stuck on a ping pong ball.
I could forgive Gregg (pictured above with Cherry Healey) if he’d just stop using hideous phrases such as ‘the hero ingredient’ (meaning the smoked salmon in a vol-au-vent) and ‘canape superhighway’ (a conveyor belt for quiche bites)
Everything delights him in these shows, wherever he goes, but as he toured a bakery in Nottinghamshire making vol-au-vents and quiches, Gregg appeared in danger of going off with a pop and showering the factory floor with streamers and glitter.
His excitement at the sight of a vibrating sieve wasn’t so much delirious as an outburst of religious ecstasy. If a choir of angels had descended at that moment to bring glad tidings, Gregg would have had no way to express greater joy.
Quite what it is that thrills him so much about the methods of mass food production, it’s hard to know, because his hyperventilation often prevents him from doing more than gasping ‘wow’ and ‘cor’.
He’s the polar opposite of Richard Ayoade, who mooches around European capitals in Travel Man being underwhelmed by the views and pulling pained faces over the local delicacies.
That bizarre hybrid of Alan Partridge’s ‘A-ha!’ and Sid James’s dirty chuckle is unnerving at the best of times but Gregg was so high on festive cheer that he was becoming scary
If the two ever meet, they might disintegrate in a devastating explosion, like matter colliding with antimatter.
I suspect the producers fear that, without the exaggerated reactions, viewers might get bored.
Or maybe they think that, because we grew up watching lunatic presenters on children’s TV, the likes of Keith Chegwin and Timmy Mallett hurling buckets of gunk over each other, we’re programmed to love shouty happy people who bounce around in yellow wellies.
I could forgive Gregg if he’d just stop using hideous phrases such as ‘the hero ingredient’ (meaning the smoked salmon in a vol-au-vent) and ‘canape superhighway’ (a conveyor belt for quiche bites).
The brief moments of sanity were more interesting. Food scientist Stuart Farrimond gave us some tips on preventing turkey from turning drier than sawdust in the oven — soaking it in a salt-water bath helps, he said.
And Ruth Goodman reminded us that advent calendars didn’t contain choccies till the Nineties.
Imagine that, children — no internet, no smartphones and no sweeties behind the doors when Daddy was a boy…back in the black-and-white days.
Gino D’Acampo served up chocolate on his Italian Express (ITV), stirred in a risotto. That’s right, choc in a risotto.
‘You cannot beat a nice rice pudding, especially for breakfast,’ he declared — which left me, as I often am, bewildered by Gino’s idea of an appetising menu.
He was exploring the rice paddies around Verona, where the fields flooded by Lake Garda resemble a Chinese landscape.
Gino D’Acampo served up chocolate on his Italian Express (ITV), stirred in a risotto. That’s right, choc in a risotto
There’s no denying that while the recipes might be unappetising, the scenery in his Italian adventures is never less than ravishing. At this time of year especially, with storms raging, it’s a wonderful escape.
His guide tried to interest him in stories of the city’s golden couple, Romeo and Juliet, but art held no attractions…until he was invited to pose for a ladies’ drawing class.
Gino’s eyes sparkled. There’s nothing he loves more than getting his kit off. The ladies quickly assured him that today’s lesson involved sketching his face only.
Nobody wants to see your Gentleman of Verona, Gino.
Force-feeding of the night: If you haven’t had your fill of I’m A Celebrity after three gruelling weeks, the Coming Out special (ITV) was a serving of repeated highlights. At this stage, I’d rather eat witchetty grubs than see any more of those faces.