The downturn has turned us into a nation of escapism artists!

If we’re not getting deliriously excited about the latest style over substance, high-concept movie (go on, watch Inception a second time - it really isn’t as good as you remembered), we’re losing ourselves in slick period pieces such as Downton Abbey or, to borrow a phrase used to describe our sweet eating habits this week, we’re “mindlessly munching” our way through one of the many comfort food TV programmes to have hit the small screen recently.

Apparently a cool 2.57 million of us turned into BBC2’s latest offering, Home Cooking Made Easy (8.30pm, Monday 26 September) while BBC1’s Panorama attracted a rather more modest 1.68 million viewers. Pitted against ex-model Lorraine Pascale winsomely (and implausibly, given her whippet-thin frame) declaring her lifelong passion for comfort food, the insights into Syria’s secret revolution didn’t stand a chance.

What’s weird about Home Cooking Made Easy, though, is that for all its comfort food credentials it really shouldn’t have worked. The idea of Pascale actually eating more than a tiny morsel of anything she cooked is frankly ludicrous.

There were dishes that even the least weight-conscious among us would balk at the cracked black pepper pasta with a creamy parmesan sauce, for instance, and the chocolate fudge made with butter, evaporated milk, sugar, chocolate and marshmallows.

The recipes she came up with weren’t all that great either. The roasted butternut squash soup looked as though it would be a doddle to make and, I’m sorry, but lining a bowl with slices of bought Swiss roll and then filling it with six tubs of slightly melted (what looked like Green & Black’s) ice cream before refreezing it and turning it out does not a cake make in my book. It was an assembly job!

It would have been nice if the recipes had been more challenging but even so, Home Cooking Made Easy made for oddly compelling viewing, partly because of Pascale’s winning persona and partly because you wanted to believe that she really does eat all that food and that you could too.

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