Heston's Recipe For Romance, Channel 4 - TV review: Blowing away Valentine's Day clichés with live snake supreme

Five couples got a three-course meal with the theatrics only Heston can manage

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The Independent Culture

You can picture the Valentine's Day development meeting. "You've got flowers, cards, 50 Shades, aphrodisiacs. Hang on a minute – do oysters, caviar, chocolate, figs and the like really get people going? Let's get Heston on it." The result was this entertaining, if voyeuristic, documentary fronted by chef-cum-scientist-cum-historian Heston Blumenthal. The hour showed us that those old adages are true: food is the way to the heart.

Five couples, all at different stages in their relationships, got a three-course meal with the theatrics only Heston can manage. The highlight/lowlight being the chilli sauce-covered "forbidden fruit" served up with an actual live snake (fear and pain are both bonding experiences, don't you know?). "It's making my gums burn," said one diner, as the ophidiophobics cowered.

Heston didn't half find some funny specialists to assist in his quest to create a multi-sensory feast. Imagine being a leading light on "aphrodisiacs of early modern England". You've got to give him an A-star for effort, though. He doesn't shy away from primary research, from ice baths to sampling a sauce so hot it made his glasses steam up. It was admirable, if not borderline bonkers.

By the end of the night, the couples were all over each other. "Bit inappropriate," said Heston from his "observation room" as one pair snogged passionately at the table. There was one thing we were not told: how much booze was consumed. But why let all the facts get in the way of good Valentine's-themed fodder?