Last Night's Television - The Delicious Miss Dahl, BBC2; Women, Weddings, War and Me, BBC3

Courage under fire

BBC3 has been taking a lot of hostile fire in recent weeks, almost universally identified as a better candidate for blood sacrifice – should one be needed – than 6 Music or the Asian Network. But, in among the double bills of Snog, Marry, Avoid? and the reruns of Dr Who and Family Guy there have always been some interesting programmes on the channel. In fact, Snog, Marry, Avoid? is itself far more Reithian than you might expect from its title – aiming to liberate its subjects from a dependency on superficial bling and rediscover the sweet, unspoiled character within. Nobody has recently done better stuff on developing-world labour conditions than BBC3's Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts and Blood, Sweat and Takeaways series, which embedded British twentysomethings in overseas sweatshops to tickle up their (and our) social conscience. And last night's film, Women, Weddings, War and Me, offered a movingly personal account of life in Afghanistan, through the eyes of 21-year-old Londoner who fled the country with her parents when she was six.

Nel wasn't going as a reporter, but as someone who wanted to settle a pressing private question. Where did she really belong? She loves her life in London but doesn't quite know what Afghanistan should now mean to her. Is it a fate escaped or a destiny still awaiting? Her mum, understandably, wasn't very happy about her going – equally distressed by the possibility that she would detest the place of her birth and that she might like it so much that she'd want to go there permanently. She needn't have worried too much. On the road in from the airport, Nel was reassured by the bodyguard who was going to accompany her throughout the trip. The suicide bombers usually aim for Afghan military targets, he said – the tranquillising effect of this intelligence somewhat undercut by the fact that they were stuck in traffic alongside a pick-up full of Afghan soldiers.

If you read the papers regularly there were no huge revelations here. Nel learned about the Taliban, about the dos and don'ts of life as a woman in Kabul (99 per cent don't to one per cent do). She tried out the burka, and visited a women's prison, where the inmates had fallen foul of the done thing, rather than any formal law. What did have freshness, though, was the intensity of the collision between Nel's Camden-nurtured confidence and optimism and the pathological misogyny of Afghani life. When the self-esteem of half a population depends on the control and humiliation of the other half, you have a recipe for a monumentally screwed-up society. Nel found glimmers of hope, a loving father proud of his daughter's independence, schoolgirls brave enough to ignore the Taliban bombers who specifically target their schools, but also wept over the evidence of how far the country still has to travel, including a 15-year-old girl who'd set fire to herself after years of abuse from her in-laws. Tomorrow, BBC3 goes back to Afghanistan with two more young women – this time British born and wearing a uniform. Nel's film (directed by Ruhi Hamid) suggested they had urgently necessary work to do.

Nigella Lawson has tank tracks on her lawn, since The Delicious Miss Dahl has just trundled on to a bit of television real estate that the delicious Miss Lawson may have felt had been securely fenced off as private property. Did they just hand her the videos of Lawson's last series and tell her to practise until she got it right? Dahl does the seductive confusion of different carnal appetites. She does the fluttering, flirtatious looks from under the eyelashes. She even, cheeky mare, does the poetic ingredient descriptions and literary allusions. And, in this first episode at least, she was doing confessional greed as well, starting her new series with an episode dedicated to pure selfishness. She was cooking for one – and to hell with company.

She began by making an omelette Arnold Bennett – half a tub of crème frâiche, parmesan and haddock contributing to a breakfast that would send most people right back to bed, to sleep it off like a boa constrictor. Lunch was a bruschetta of fennel, courgette and "a lovely alabaster ball of buffalo mozzarella" and to fill that tricky gap between lunch and supper she whipped up a batch of peanut butter fudge. Just time for a dirty martini, a flash of those Manga cartoon eyes and few lines of Dorothy Parker, before she was tucking into roast halibut with a herb sauce and a chocolate pot with cherry compote – all this nudging the calorie count north of 5,000. "The joy of these days is that they are rare," she told us, with a voice like chocolate ganache. They'd bloody well have to be I would have thought – or they'd need to reinforce the catwalk.

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before