TV review: Summer's Supermarket Secrets, BBC1

Greatest Little Britons: Cake Decorators, Sky1

Get ready for Morning Centenary. Eleven years in the making, spectroscopically analysed and lab tested for squish-resistance, Morning Centenary is a new variety of strawberry, the latest weapon in Sainsbury's battle to nudge its summer trading figures even higher than they are already. And in Summer's Supermarket Secrets, Gregg Wallace followed the last stretch of its progress to the shelves, the final hurdle being a blind tasting by consumers. It passed with honours, which means that if you actually bother to read the small print on your 2-for-1 punnets, its name may soon be replacing Elsanta and Jubilee. And when the yen for strawberries first strikes you, don't think for a moment that it's an expression of your own independent will. You're just part of a herd, the movements of which respond to the season with a predictability that is frankly unnerving. In Scotland, the big spike in barbecue sales is triggered at 20 degrees centigrade. In southern England, it isn't until the thermometer hits 24 degrees that we feel the urge to burn meat in the open air.

It was an infuriatingly interesting programme this. Infuriating because you might have hoped for a slightly more questioning attitude to such powerful operators in our daily lives. As Wallace pointed out, something like 90 per cent of what we consume comes from the big supermarkets, a fact that gives the big three remarkable insights into our appetites, and a remarkable ability to manipulate them. But apart from one passing remark – "Is there such a thing as too much choice?" – he never really questioned the mechanics of advanced consumer capitalism, instead offering a showcase for the ingenuity of the big players' logistics. And try as you might, it was hard not to be impressed by their remorseless Darwinian drive to carve out a slightly bigger niche in the grocery eco-system.

The sheer scale of the operation was dazzling. We buy our bananas a bunch at a time. But the business of ensuring that we can always reach out and pick a bunch up, its colour precisely graded to match our expectations, involves vast warehouses at which the ripening of the fruit can be carefully calibrated. So dependable is this item in the British shopping basket (and so important to the supermarket's cash flow) that Tesco has now rigged its tills to sound an alarm if they haven't clocked any bananas for five minutes. Backstage, some humble banana wrangler's badge will bleep, warning them that the shelves must be running low. If you were hoping for anything about the effect of our banana-fixation on the developing economies that supply them, you'd come to the wrong place. But if you could live without that it was fascinating.

A new series for Sky1, Greatest Little Britons, has had the canny idea of profiling some of the country's competitive perfectionists – professional and amateur. We're tantalisingly promised a visit to the Good Funeral Awards later in the series, but it began with Cake Decorators, tracking four entrants in the run-up to Cake International, a celebration of the sculptural possibilities of sugar paste and piping. Poor Marcia, who seems to work almost exclusively in the niche genre of cake footwear, thought she was home and dry when she saw that the competition included a special "Shoes and Bag" category. Sadly, she didn't read the fine print and was disqualified for improper structural support.

Terry Tang – who deliciously based his entry on his own tattoos – took a top award for a chocolate-and sugar-paste rendition of a fight between a tiger and an oriental dragon. And Elizabeth's hours of work on a lacy display wedding cake were also rewarded with a gold medal, though her choice of category couldn't help but seem a little ironic: "I'm not very successful at relationships," she confessed. Taste – in any sense of the term – did not appear to be a critical issue for the judges.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
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


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

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas