A look at the presenters of food programming so far for the fag end of 2011 and 2012 reveals nothing but white chaps with names like Henry, George, and Tim. All good eggs no doubt, and let me say for a moment I don’t blame these fellas for the dire state of plurality in food programming – after all we need chaps to mess about in milk floats and indulge in sibling rivalry. But hell’s teeth we need something on the other end of the seesaw surely? Most ‘food telly’ at the moment makes want eat badly prepared fugu and end it all rather than watch ‘Mumford & Sons do food’ nonsense.
Where are the women, the documentaries, the experts, the intelligence, the other voices. Liam Tucker perhaps said best in his review of ‘Hugh’s Hungry Boys’ on TV Pixie.com
“The format of these shows is so predictably formulaic it's impossible to form an opinion on them. You've been so ruthlessly whacked with the hammer of this sort of gubbins, so, so many times that even responding is beyond you. You've been whacked senseless, and Channel 4 hope you'll put up with it because you've given up all hope.”
The D word
Any comment about diversity can often be misconstrued by the ignorant to look like I’m asking for blind lesbians in wheelchairs making cupcakes – I’m not. I just want a few more ages, backgrounds, accents and races to tell me interesting things about food.
Or maybe it’s the misguided belief that it’s women who are into cooking and lifestyle shows, and therefore posh chaps that are the best people to front them? The Good Food Channel are doing some interesting things with the Roux Legacy, Annabel Langbein and Ching's Kitchen. Meanwhile a look at non-repeat food programming across terrestrial TV at the moment (Masterchef, Heston, Baker Bros, Hugh’s Boys, Raymond Blanc) reveals Katy Ashworth from ‘I can cook’ on Cbeebies as the only woman doing any cooking on the box. And that folks, is a bloody disgrace.
Now Simon Cowell – having reduced the music to the very depths of vapidity – is turning his eye to food. And when it couldn’t get any worse, Laura Zilli is coming, apparently to BBC Two, dispensing such sage food advice as:
Each recipe will tell you exactly when you can leave the pans bubbling and slip off to do your make-up and change into your glamorous clothes, right down to which outfit to wear for each meal.’
Pass the fugu, for surely we have reached the end of days. Read Luke MacKay’s excellent thoughts on this fashion/food TV first.
The thing is
I know from my readership of lovefood that people are crying out for something a bit more interesting and thought provoking that all this malarkey. Where is the Sherlock of Food, the David Attenborough of Food? Where are the docs, the dramas? Food telly is in danger of being fast food telly, and is heading towards being utterly shit for 2012. Enough with ‘lifestyle’ and faux jeopardy, there are better stories to tell, call me.