Last Night's Television - The British Family, BBC2; Paul Merton in Europe, Five; Gordon's Great Escape, Channel 4

Some like it hotter

As if the delicious High School Musical parody Glee wasn't treat enough for a Monday evening, Channel 4 last night brought us "Ghee", otherwise known as
Gordon's Great Escape, in which Gordon Ramsay trucked round India learning how to cook the proper food of the subcontinent, rather than the ersatz stuff dished up for us in Britain. Here, we consume around 3.5 million curries a week, yet only a tiny fraction of them bear any resemblance to curries in the old country.

This series, by contrast, showcases authenticity. This is Indian cooking to swear by, and needless to add the great chef obliges, making what I suppose in these circumstances is an Uttar Pradesh of himself by confusing profanity with personality. I don't mind Ramsay effing and blinding in the kitchen, where the heat and general frenzy seem almost to demand it, but somewhere along the line he evidently decided, or was advised, to make it his unique selling point. Of course, a USP is useful in a telly career. Magnus Pyke waved his arms around; Gordon Ramsay says "fuck" a lot. But someone, perhaps even Gordon himself, should now be big and brave enough to rinse out his vocabulary. It won't happen, alas. There would be a worry that his considerable if peculiarly charmless charisma might not survive, like a soufflé without eggs. But it would.

Anyway, all that aside, the first salvo of Gordon's Great Escape, which continues tonight and tomorrow, had some memorable moments, not least the spectacle of our man intrepidly climbing 40ft up a tree to cut down an ants' nest, these ants and their eggs being the main constituent of a particuarly splendid chutney. Apart from a few grazes sustained in shinning up the tree, he also ended up with ants in his pants and pretty much everywhere else. The staff at the Sharwood's chutney factory can consider themselves lucky. Unless of course someone was just winding Gordon up; practical jokes don't come much better than sending a bloke with a camera crew up a tall tree to get ants to make chutney.

The same irreverent thought crossed my mind when a venerable octogenarian chef, catering for a lavish wedding, showed him his recipe for goat biryani, which involved stuffing the goat with chickens stuffed with quail stuffed with eggs. I think it was for real, but it could have been sweet act of revenge on the part of the old man, who perhaps didn't like being described by Gordon as "the dog's bollocks". In India, as in many parts of the world, I imagine you need a really top-notch interpreter to explain that dog's bollocks are good things to be.

There were no dog's bollocks in Paul Merton in Europe, just wooden dildos and butt plugs, manufactured by a family business in Germany. It is perhaps evidence of a sheltered life that I hadn't come across butt plugs before watching this programme, and I'll be happy enough if I never do again, but at least I was reassured to find that my wife was in the same boat, butt plug-wise. I wasn't looking for her to turn to me askance, saying, "You've never heard of them? Really?"

Merton's brief seems to be to cross Europe looking for weirdos, who are easy enough to find but add little value to a travelogue. The German couple who have turned their home into a shrine to the Wild West, and like to stage their very own Battle of the Little Big Horn, might just as easily have been Dutch, Danish or even, just to throw a really outlandish thought into the equation, American. Neither they nor the dildo-making family offered much insight into the nature of Germany, but Merton is an engaging host and I did at least learn that the German word for dildo is dildo, which came as something of a relief, when you think what a formidable mouthful it could be.

And so to the second episode in The British Family, "Sex". One of the pleasures of Kirsty Young's intelligent four-part exploration into how family life has evolved since the Second World War is the archive material, and it was a particular joy last night to see again old footage of the 1970 Miss World show at the Royal Albert Hall, which was sabotaged by women's libbers, as they were then known, throwing bags of flour.

I love the wholesomeness of the protest; these days it would be nail bombs. But more than anything it was good to be reminded how splendid those flour-chucking feminists were, for realising long before the rest of us that Miss World really did degrade women. Hell, contestants in the swimsuit round actually had to turn to show the judges their backsides. And I confess that on such occasions I was at home with my mum and dad, it being an annual treat to be allowed to stay up for Miss World, all of us earnestly discussing the size of Miss Spain's bottom. As, I should add, was half the nation.

Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence