Who does Stefan Gates think he is? Francis Ford Coppola?

There's plenty of merit in investigating whether E numbers really are as nasty as everyone thinks they are. But stretching E Numbers: An Edible Adventure (BBC2, 8pm, 2 September) out over three hour-long episodes is surely a tad E-xcessive.

Especially when the front man has the charisma of an amoeba. I've never much cared for Gates.He's like one of those kids at school who sat at the front of class thrusting their hand into the air before the teacher had even asked a question - the sort no-one, not even the teacher, liked.

Which didn't bode well for this so-called adventure. I say so-called because how can it be an adventure if nothing exciting or unexpected happens? After setting out his stall to discover whether E numbers do more good than harm, Gates immediately concludes they do, which surely defeats the point unless the point is to bore the viewer senseless by endlessly restating the question and answer (at times endorsing E numbers so enthusiastically, you wondered whether he was in the employ of the food industry).

And what was with the lengthy rumination on the wonders of salt? It isn't even an E number. Ah yes, it was the most popular preservative BEFORE E numbers. Who knew? Everybody? A mere quibble. Who'd have missed the hilarious sight of Gates hauling a whole pig through his North London terrace, cleaving the beast in half and covering one half in salt, 10 days later to discover that shockingly, it had fared rather better than its unsalted counterpart.

In a desperate bid to keep the viewer interested, Gates even resorted to demonstrating the explosive attributes of potassium nitrate (used to stop potentially fatal clostridium botulinum and in gunpowder), made his own by peeing on some horse manure and, the piece de resistance, baked a cake using E numbers from his own body.

If only all E numbers were bad. The programme would have been over the moment Gates gorged on all that E-laced food. Instead he went over the limit on just one (which wasn't bad anyway). So the 'adventure' will continue next week. Can't wait.

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