TV review: Gino’s Italian Escape (Fri, BBC1) and What Remains (Sun, BBC1)

Exploring Italy's food culture with lashings of cheeky chappy charm

Gino D’Acampo might once – and only for a split second – have fooled us with his “cockney”  accent on This Morning.

As if! Since cockney-gate, his Italian credentials have only been further confirmed. Just for the record, though, he told us: “I am Gino, born and raised in Italy,” his voice pure Italiano, in Gino’s Italian Escape. And to dispel the notion that this getaway to Italy might be a Keith Floyd-style, food tourist’s smash and grab, he took us to Amalfi, where he grew up.

A cutesy tour followed: lemon groves, rugged coastline, dinky shops, narrow streets, even a quick geography lesson (did you know Amalfi is near the ankle that shapes the country’s mapped boot?). The shop, by the way, had a plethora of lemon-based products. “It’s lemon ’eaven,” Gino quipped, dropping his “h” Italian style, not cockney. So far, so Italian, but what we really wanted was to see him in his real natural habitat – the kitchen – juggling pots, his skin baked by the heat of the stove. Ah, just as we wished it, there he was among the lemon trees with cream and eggs and lemons before him, whipping up an al fresco treat. Down to business. At last.

But then – what? – a plodding trip to a buffalo farm where Gino told us that to make mozzarella, “the curd from the  buffalo milk is shredded, heated and the gooey substance is stirred…” and also that “happy buffalos means amazing mozzarella”. Hmm, so was this cooking with Gino or not? In short, it was and wasn’t, but those who had switched on with the hope of learning some new recipes may have been puzzled by why he was doing so little cooking, and so much ambling around.

In the end, he made two dishes (they could hardly be called “dishes”), and neither were revelations: a lemon mousse topped with crushed amaretti biscuits that was whipped up in the blink of an eye, and a mozzarella and Parma ham wrap, which was a case of wrapping some ingredients – primarily mozzarella and ham – together. So what was happening here? Televisual mash-up, that’s what. This was  part travel show and part lifestyle  programme with a few fast recipes thrown in. “Let me show you how mouth-watering ingredients have shaped my home country,” he said at the beginning, but that meant we’d be taken through the “buffalo” end of mozzarella (the animals are treated like kings, apparently).

For some – lovers of Italy? Lovers of Gino’s cheeky chappy charm? – this new series could be slow-burn heaven in which food culture is explored in broad-brush. But then again, when Gino’s on home ground, he is clearly at his most sedate. There was less mischief, more “lessons” about the provenance of and processes around food, though there was the odd moment of glinty-eyed fun. While making mozzarella balls on the farm, he dropped a Gino-joke about “bigger balls” and told us later that the Italian name for these translated as “women’s breasts”.

So did we guess whodunit before all was revealed in the final episode of What Remains? At least we had two bites of the cherry, given the twisty ending that thrilled without fully convincing. Melissa’s killer was not the crazed-looking woman in the basement – far too obvious! – but one half of the dysfunctional lesbian couple. Neither was it pre-meditated or sadistic but a sudden moment of madness. Still, her partner stood by, watching this impetuosity take  its course without restraining her, which was inexplicable.

This couple’s storyline – their abusive master/slave dynamic – had until this point been the most unexplained of the  storylines and also rather outlandish. The fact that David Threlfall’s retired detective – thinking the murder solved – moved into Melissa’s old flat made it all even more far-fetched. Niggles aside, it was a reassuringly baroque and nail-biting end to a brilliant crime drama – so scrub those complaints.

twitter.com/ArifaAkbar

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there