Critical Eye... on Huge Furry and Saint Jamie
This week we were 'treated' to a Great British Food Fight double bill as Huge Furry Wittering-balls and Saint Jamie entered the ring to whip up public outrage over the evils of cheap chicken and bacon.
I felt a sense of déjà vu as I watched Chickens, Hugh and Tesco Too (9pm, C4, 26 January). And with good reason. I HAD seen chunks of it before in Hugh's Chicken Run and the press coverage of his attempt to get a shareholder resolution passed at Tesco's agm last summer. Cheap chicken? Cheap TV more like.
Once more, Wittering-balls dispensed with any pretence of intellectual rigour to lay the burden of blame at Tesco's door. The reason it was singled out in a programme that almost entirely avoided mention of Asda and Morrisons? At the time, it wasn't selling any RSPCA-sanctioned Freedom Food birds and didn't fancy a face-to-face with the sanctimonious one.
Tesco didn't cover itself in glory when it did finally relent. Pleas to see Sir Terry or at least "a real decision maker" unheeded, it wheeled out media flunky Dharshini David who was soon cast as the pantomime baddy. Tesco's labelling misled customers, claimed Wittering-balls. No it didn't, retorted David. Yes, it did. It was a shame, as Tesco's line that it sells cheap chicken because that's what consumers want didn't come across. Ultimately, though, it was Wittering-balls' feathers that were ruffled when he failed to get his resolution through.
Moving from prigs to pigs, Jamie Saves our Bacon (9pm, C4, 28 January) was a much more persuasive affair. Unlike his fellow chef, he didn't try and hector people into submission. Sure there were stunts. We saw a live birth; semen being collected (unlike Rebecca Loos the boar didn't look like he enjoyed Jamie's friend's technique); and Pig Brother during which 'stallmates' spent almost 24 hours confined to human versions of sow stalls. But they didn't detract from Oliver's key point. Animal welfare is better in the UK than elsewhere, yet the vast majority of our bacon comes from overseas - mainly Denmark - and is jeopardising the future of the whole UK pig industry.
Buy British was the message - and I've no doubt people will do having seen this programme.