Last Night's TV - Jamie's American Food Revolution, Channel 4; Horizon: The Death of the Oceans? BBC2; DCI Banks: Aftermath, ITV1

They're eating out of his hands

Disliking Jamie Oliver is rather like running into a mighty headwind. It's not impossible, nor is it even unreasonable, but it takes energy and single-mindedness, and eventually it just seems easier to do a 180-degree about-turn and applaud the bloke. That's a conclusion the good if regrettably lardy folk of Huntington, West Virginia, seem to be edging towards in
Jamie's American Food Revolution, although in the latest instalment our hero took on the ultimate challenge – to win over his most vocal critic, a shifty-looking local radio DJ called Rod. "A lot of people in Huntington find me annoying," he said breezily, "but Rod... can't stand my guts."

It has been Rod's firm belief all along that his fellow citizens do not want to be lectured about their eating habits by a cocky Limey chef, so last night Jamie struck a bet with him, that he could teach 1,000 people to cook in five days. The stake was a beer, which seemed a little feeble; surely Rod could have offered to eat his calorie-friendly hat. Anyway, you won't be staggered to learn that Jamie won his bet in the nick of time, and moreover that his 1,000th pupil was Rod himself, thoroughly converted to the cause.

It was all absurdly contrived and at the same time surprisingly heartening. Jamie went to the local university campus to organise a flash mob, for which the Wikipedia definition is "a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then disperse". He might quibble with the word "pointless", but it was certainly unusual; dozens of people suddenly whipping out woks and performing a dancing stir-fry. "Kick-ass," Jamie called the exercise, which ordinarily would tempt me into throwing something at the telly. White English boys should never say "kick-ass", not unless they're being deliberately ironic. But somehow Jamie gets away with these things.

Meanwhile, to win over Rod the DJ, stronger measures were called for. Jamie took him to a funeral parlour, where the undertakers explained that there was a growing need in Huntington for "caskets" the size of family saloons, and also passed on some information about the difficulty of cremating an extremely obese dead person, which I won't share with you in case you're eating. Rod was suitably aghast, as he was again on being introduced to some of Jamie's fat friends, one of whom, Britney, described her new favourite Englishman as "a dream come true... an answered prayer". I have written before about Jamie's messiah complex, and it's certainly not suffering among these West Virginians, whose state governor called in on his mass cookery lesson, as did the Good Morning America cameras.

In terms of screen persona, the English TV chef most similar to Jamie Oliver is probably Ainsley Harriott, and interestingly enough he enjoyed 15 minutes of fame in America too. About 10 years ago, Harriott was whisked over to New York to make The Ainsley Harriott Show, a daytime cookery/chat show commissioned by NBC at the urging of the talk show host Merv Griffin, a fan of BBC1's Can't Cook, Won't Cook, who thought his compatriots would go crazy for Ainsley. For a short while, they did. But it turned out that Harriott was only flavour of the month for about a month, and maybe the same will be true of Jamie. Not many British television personalities succeed on American TV. Tracey Ullman, Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and the Teletubbies come to mind as exceptions, but then none of them, not even the Teletubbies, were on a mission to re-educate.

Re-education is much easier with a willing audience, which Jamie doesn't always have, but David Attenborough always does. In Horizon: The Death of the Oceans?, the great man lamented the irony that as we learn about the marine ecosystem that represents our planet's lungs, more of it is disappearing. A little lame these days, but as fit from the neck up as he has ever been, Attenborough stood under the white cliffs of Dover in an unfamiliar guise, not as a harbinger of doom exactly, but certainly of anxiety. "We risk losing species before we've even been introduced to them," he said, and we should feel just as distressed by that prospect as he does, because he's probably the one who would have effected the introduction.

There is, he pointed out, a glimmer of hope, not least in the Census of Marine Life to which more than 2,000 scientists have signed up, and which will determine whether we can still arrest some of the damage we are doing to the oceans. We are over-fishing and polluting them, and driving whales and dolphins to distraction with shipping noises, which means they can't communicate with each other, or at least that they find it terribly hard to hear what is going on, a little like the audiences of modern television drama, who have over-urgent, ever-intrusive background music to deal with.

There was a time when dialogue and acting were the main components in setting the mood of a drama. Now music seems to be deemed at least as important, to the detriment of those of us who prefer to judge for ourselves what is going on, without the help of a string quartet. All of which leaves scarcely any room to consider the denouement of DCI Banks: Aftermath, which is probably just as well. A psychological thriller about a modern Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, it ended up bogged down in psychology, and almost devoid of thrills.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried