It’s what you might call a swings and roundabouts situation. The Mediterranean diet is regarded by some as being an effective way of lowering blood pressure. When a show on Italian cuisine is presented by a pouting Nigella Lawson though, the health benefits might not be immediately noticeable among the middle-aged male viewers.
The celebrity cook’s new BBC series is called Nigellissima! Lawson will soft-focus her attention on the Italian food that inspired her when she had a gap year in Florence as a teenager. "There I found my spiritual and gastronomic home," she said. "I wanted to make a series about my sort of Italian food."
Lawson's series is the flagship in a whole fleet of cookery shows that the BBC has lined up for summer. Lawson’s sensual approach is counterbalanced by the Hairy Bikers’ bluff, comic approach to hearty eating.
Almost as soon as their current series on baking around Europe concludes, the Bikers – Simon King and Dave Myers – will host a series on eating well. This is not specifically a health programme, but will encourage people to eat sensibly and healthily.
This may have been commissioned in response to criticism that the glut of food shows is encouraging Britain’s burgeoning obesity problem. BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow countered that, arguing: "Our programmes are never about bulk – it tends to be food that is carefully put together. It would be tough to pick on our stuff and say it's encouraging us all to get fat."
Nigella’s spaghetti and meatballs should be eaten in moderation then and, despite what the presenter might say, should not be dragged out of the fridge for a midnight snack.