I miss fat Greg Wallace. You know, the one who melted like the middle of a chocolate fondant whenever someone offered him a pudding on MasterChef, before grabbing a spoon in a big ham fist, taking a giant mouthful, then grinning like a roly-poly man-child when the sugar kicked in. Now he’s all ‘I can do up my blazer’ on ads for WeightWatchers. It’s all a bit unsettling.
Confusing as this metamorphosis from chunky geezer to Smash mash alien is, on Summer’s supermarket Secrets (BBC One, Thursday, 9pm) he offered clarity into how supermarkets can offer us anything we want, whatever the season. We met a food scientist who has eaten a pound of strawberries every day, five days a week, for eight years, in order to grow the perfect strawberry plant for Sainsbury’s - in other words, one that produces fruit for longer, so they can sell more.
To achieve this, Sainsbury’s has spent “millions of pounds” making the poor man cross-pollinate 13,000 strawberry plants, then having him taste the results, like an English country garden version of Chinese water torture. Yes, they have engineered a plant that bears fruit from May to November. They also have a chief scientist who goes green when the clocks change.
“Damn fine strawberry,” grinned Wallace, munching on the hallowed fruit. Although if I’d spent eight years going mental eating strawberries, I may have stabbed him with the nearest trowel for not going overboard with superlatives, like he used to after a generous helping of toffee pudding.