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
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
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.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'