Last Night’s Viewing: Secret Eaters, Channel 4
Felicity Kendal's Indian Shakespeare Quest, BBC2

 

According to Anna Richardson, "we each make about 200 eating decisions a day". Judging from the ballooning of the national waistline, pretty much all of those decisions are "Oh go on then. I shouldn't but I will".

We kid ourselves that something else is happening, naturally, convinced that we have somehow transcended the essential laws of the universe by creating matter out of thin air. "I don't feel I do eat too much," said Jill, her face a mask of bafflement, "Maybe sometimes I don't eat enough." Her brother Stuart, who's gone from nine stone to 16 "knows for a fact" that he takes in less than the recommended daily calories for a man. Both of them apparently sincerely believed that their inability to lose weight was "a mystery". The question for Secret Eaters, Channel 4's latest deployment of all-points surveillance, was whether they were exceptionally stupid or simply representatively self-deceiving.

The method is straightforward. With their acquiescence, the chubby guinea pigs have their houses fitted with cameras to record every surreptitious nibble. Unbeknown to them, they are also tracked when they're out of the house by two private detectives who take long-lens photographs of them sneaking in a quick prawn sandwich here and there. After a while, the evidence is amassed in what Anna Richardson grandly calls the Incident Room, stained takeaway boxes tagged as Exhibit F and a congealing smorgasbord of everything they've eaten and drunk over the preceding days. The guinea pigs swing round and make OMG faces at the scale of their invisible consumption.

The mystery, it turns out, isn't mysterious at all. Jill's sense that she "occasionally" treats herself to a snack turns out to be a steady conveyor belt roll of crisps and chocolate bars. She's a plate-clearer too, snagging leftovers from anyone nearby. And she appears to pack away three days of calorific intake between Friday evening and Saturday lunchtime. Brother Stuart, on the other hand, eats like a boa constrictor, cramming down a gargantuan meal late at night and then falling into a light coma while he digests it. He also likes to add fat to his considerable intake of dietary fat, slathering mayonnaise on to the chips that come with his triple cheese burger. "That never crossed my mind," he said, when he was informed that this last item alone added 1,319 calories to his intake. That's because you're an idiot, Stuart. Sorry... I do apologise. I meant to say ill-informed.

I approached Felicity Kendal's Indian Shakespeare Quest like a mongoose sidling up to a cobra. For one thing, I'd recently been bitten by the silly Shakespeare in Italy. For another, I have a strong allergy to "quests" and a mild allergy to Felicity Kendal's winsomeness. But it turned out to be a delight – a gratifyingly untidy mixture of cultural history, touching personal memoir and offbeat travelogue. And Kendal really did have qualifications beyond her celebrity for that above-the-title billing. A sweet photograph of her as a mump-faced urchin, playing one of the Dream fairies for her parents' touring company, confirmed her very early experience in sub-continental Shakespeare. Unlike most telly tourists to India she can speak a little Hindi too.

Kendal talked to scholars about the history of Shakespeare productions, including an 1850 Othello that controversially featured an Indian actor in the title role and "set the whole world of Calcutta agog", and revisited scenes from her childhood. And, although Shakespeare himself was mostly seen at a tangent, and sometimes through the opacity of another language altogether, there was a real sense of how his impurity as a writer, the collision of high and low that so dismayed critics of a Johnsonian bent, gave him adoptive citizenship of India. He might not have actually been born in Karnataka, as some of his wilder Indian enthusiasts have theorised, but he's certainly at home there.

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
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.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam