The programme opened unpromisingly with the sort of talking-head quotes that tend to make you switch over to EastEnders: Richard Burdett of the Architecture Foundation saying "Philippe Starck is so French it hurts" and "[he] has designed the most elegant toothbrush in the world so, you know, he can do anything". The man himself redeemed any early shortcomings with a crazily elliptical approach to the world at large and a repertoire of strange noises which represented thoughts, processes or objects that the vocabulary couldn't supply. "Brouubrouugh" was a concrete mixer, "po- po-po-po" a hammer, "Eeeh-awwh" a saw and so forth. The basic idea behind his design was this: "plom plom plom plom". What better way to articulate the ideals of the late 20th century?
It is obvious from Starck's previous work that he nurses a certain zeal to transform the world; evident last night was a hitherto hidden desire to protect it. Extrapolating on his enthusiasm for the project at hand, he said: "Why? To stop the destruction of the landscape... by a sort of skin sickness that are all these house." Of course, it sounded better in a French accent. "People," he said, "work all their lives with their blood, their sweat, to pay for this house, and in the end we give them bullshit."
His answer to the bullshit was a vaguely pagoda-shaped wooden construction covered in windows and situated in a wood. It was very nice, at least if you were going to place it in a sunny, dry French woodland. Le Corbusier makes sense in the sunny south, as well. Enthusiastic self-builders can now buy the house in kit form, mail-order, for pounds 300 - or, at least, the blueprints, a hammer, a French flag and a booklet containing Starck's Cocteau-style notes: profound sentiments such as "Le toit: mon chapeau". The only problem is that the house looked disturbingly like Jeffrey Dahmer's childhood home, the one where he decapitated the dogs.
Another grand eccentric, Keith Floyd, concluded his latest odyssey by refusing to bungee jump off the Victoria Falls and allowing himself to be seen swigging from a bottle of mineral water. Floyd on Africa (BBC2) has had all the hallmarks of the chef's previous series: outdoor wokking, everyone, but everyone, being referred to as "my chum", throwaway asides that say more about foreign travel than any full-length study could reveal. Trying to cook a guinea fowl in a gale-force wind, he gave way to a slight expression of irritation. "Of course, everyone assures me that this is very unusual for this time of year," he said, "but locals lie to you all over the world about the weather." Nonetheless, with the help of some Fairview chardonnay, he persevered.
Television cookery was revolutionised by Floyd's presenting style. After decades of rather solemn Delia-style measuring and weighing - as if a stew was ever going to be ruined if you didn't use exactly two ounces of butter - he brought "real" cooking to the screen: cooking with enjoyment and, above all, a casualness that belied the skill involved. Good cooks, when they aren't straying up the dribble-of-raspberry-coulis-and-a-couple- of-star-fruit cul-de-sac, have always been vague about exact quantities: "some", "a bit" and "quite a lot" is about as accurate as they get. Floyd has made this habit into an art form, and his relationship with his crew, those "follow me please, Chris", "back on the pot, please" and "a big fat close-up on that, Chris, if you please" stage directions, bring home the immediacy of food preparation in a way that "here's one I prepared earlier" never could. Floyd makes gourmandism into a virtue. I'd love to see him get his hands on vegan cuisine.Reuse content