There are sponsor idents, there’s product placement and then there’s What’s Cooking? from the Sainsbury’s Kitchen (12.35pm, weekdays, C4). Hosted by vacuous duo Ben Shephard and Lisa Faulkner, this celebrity chat and cookery show fancies itself a weekday version of Saturday Kitchen or Sunday Brunch.
It isn’t. Those programmes have a degree of charm. For all its celebrity trappings (Louis Smith and a member of JLS on Monday), What’s Cooking is a crude promotional vehicle for Sainsbury’s. For one, it’s broadcast from “a studio in the car park of a supermarket”, as Shephard bluntly put it. Said store was also where chef Marcus Bean was dispatched to pick up the ingredients for a dish he had to make by the end of the show (a steak salad with pomegranate). And Sainsbury’s own-label ingredients were front and centre again when Rachel Allen whipped up a lamb’s neck with couscous.
Not that this will necessarily stop it being a hit with the lunchtime TV crowd and, despite the odd lame stunt - such as getting Smith and the JLS bod to milk a cardboard cut-out cow - the recipes were at least good. As they were in another cookery programme in which a well-known grocery retailer played an integral part. In Simon Cowell’s Food Glorious Food (8pm, 27 February, ITV1), competitors vied to get their recipe on to M&S shelves. It was pretty formulaic, and ratings were low, but this week’s winner, a Pimm’s Jelly made by Star Bistro - a team of disabled students - had M&S written all over it and a back story worthy of an X Factor winner.