As pointless goes, I've seen worse, I suppose.

There was the S-level question on whether the only meaningful literature in the future would be written by Catholics or other groups with strong value systems (it would, I argued stridently, earning myself a very nice grade despite having no belief system myself, ha ha).

And how can I forget the psychometric test in which I was quizzed on whether I "prefer" the words 'fact' to 'idea', 'hard' to 'soft' and 'chin-stroking' to 'navel-gazing'? (OK, may have made the last one up).

But Rick Stein's Food of the Italian Opera (9pm, BBC4, Tuesday 1 June) took speciousness to a whole new level. The tone for this aimless one-hour exploration of the link between Italian food and opera - or, as Stein nonsensically put it, "not opera, Italian opera, not Italian opera, but Italian opera of the 19th century" - was set by the embarrassing juxtaposition of a Samuel Johnson and a Stein quote in the opening credits (embarrassing because Stein is no Johnson and the latter was dead before the composers mentioned were born).

Even so, I thought, stick with it. I'm no great fan of that song from A Room With a View (Puccini) or the tunes from a host of ads that Verdi thoughtfully laid down the scores for more than a century before they were devised, but I like Italian food so there'll be some nice recipes.

And indeed there were just not enough of them. The problem? Stein spent most of his time lamely getting people to agree that there was a link even though he'd admitted he didn't know what he meant at the start and the link ultimately extended no further than Rossini et al's fondness for food and the fact both food and opera express the Italian passion for life.

You could, of course, argue that there's a link between Italian food and pretty much any aspect of Italian culture - football, for example. But I guess Stein prefers opera to football and fancied a beanie to Italy, which is why we were treated to the following musing from a conductor friend on Rossini's The Barber of Seville. "It's like he's tasting it; it's like mastication, isn't it?" Mmm.

That isn't the word beginning with 'mast' that springs to mind.

More from this column