Last Night's TV: I wish she'd made a proper meal of it

Delia, BBC2; White Girl, BBC2; The Fixer, ITV1

Those who believe in a wrathful god will find a simple explanation for the ferocious storms that have battered Britain these last 48 hours; indeed, Delia Smith's use of frozen mashed potato, in the first programme of her new series, Delia, might also have propelled the ravens from the Tower of London. The world suddenly seems upside-down.

Delia, I should add, occupies a firm place both on my bookshelf and in my heart. When I assume cooking responsibilities in our house, her Complete Cookery Course, a tome as well thumbed as Dr Billy Graham's bible, is still my first port of call. But now I feel as Dr Graham might if presented with conclusive evidence that there was no virgin birth. Not only frozen mash, but also tinned mince and ready-made cheese sauce! Why, why, why, Delia?

The series accompanies her new book, Delia's How to Cheat at Cooking, and is ostensibly for those who don't have the time to peel, chop or grate. Fair enough. Nigella Lawson, in the widely lampooned but functional Nigella Express, addressed a similar predicament. But by going the extra yard to the tinned-mince counter, Delia risks alienating her loyal constituency.

Maybe it all started with her famous "Let's be 'avin' you!" address to the crowd at Carrow Road, when, if not a little squiffy then certainly a little over-excited, she lapsed into estuary English to exhort the fans of her beloved Norwich City FC to get behind the team. This showed a side to her that was at odds with the prim schoolmarm of popular perception, and she obviously enjoyed the effect, because the clip was shown again last night. So could it be that she has now decided to go the whole hog, and similarly challenge our perception of her as a reliable, discerning cook? Because what she is doing with this series is akin to walking on to the pitch at Carrow Road and exhorting the fans to switch their support to Ipswich Town. Or to find a more culinary metaphor, she is mixing messages with a turbocharged Kenwood Chef. For years, she has encouraged us to reject what she is now preaching as gospel.

Besides, her justification for cheating doesn't stand up. If time is so much of the essence, then why even bother to make a shepherd's pie with tinned mince and frozen mash? Why not simply buy a ready meal and stick it in the microwave, or is she saving that idea for the next series? At any rate, supermarket executives must already be turning cartwheels at the prospect of Delia-enhanced profits, waiting for bags of salad leaves and pre-diced veg, which anyone with the slightest awareness of kitchen economy knows to be among the least cost-effective of foodstuffs, to start walking off the shelves simply because she has endorsed them.

Clearly, she is aware that she is presenting a controversial message, because the food writer Nigel Slater was ushered on to lend his support. He's a polite fellow, and plainly didn't want to upset his hostess, but it seemed to me that his support was on the under-cooked side of equivocal. The only person I know who might properly explain Delia's mission is my friend Rosie, who used to be a fashion writer on Vogue. When I questioned some of the more absurd Vivienne Westwood creations, she explained to me that the likes of Westwood don't expect women to walk down the street with one breast showing and wearing a purple top hat; fashion works by some of these more outré ideas filtering down in a more diluted way. Maybe that's Delia's scheme.

Whatever, having gorged myself on Delia I am left with little room to praise White Girl, a grim yet ultimately hopeful drama about an 11-year-old girl from Bradford who, saddled with an alcoholic mother and an abusive step-father, found solace in Allah. Wonderfully written by Abi Morgan – "Allah 'ad 99 names, were 'e fiddling 'is benefit too?" – and marvellously acted, especially by Holly Kenny as young Leah, it was more effective than any documentary at showing why someone without much of a life might embrace whatever religion happens to be available, which in the terraced streets of West Yorkshire tends to be Islam. Some of the previews dismissed White Girl as unconvincing: to me it seemed all too plausible.

The same cannot be said, alas, of ITV's daft new serial The Fixer, starring Andrew Buchan as John Mercer, an enigmatic killer who is sprung from jail by an enigmatic cop so that he can become a state-sanctioned assassin. Unfortunately, Buchan's way of playing enigmatic was to wear only one expression throughout, a look of slightly puzzled consternation, which in fairness was reproduced on our sofa. We couldn't understand why the enigmatic cop had paired Mercer with an accident-prone small-time crook called Calum (Jody Latham). Why team the Jackal with one half of the Chuckle Brothers? Like much of last night's telly, it made no sense.

b.viner@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
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.

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?