Gordon Ramsay's reputation as the tough guy of British cuisine will be severely dented tonight, following Channel 4's decision to screen footage of his pet pigs being taken to the abattoir.
Viewers of The F-Word will see Ramsay moved almost to tears, as he watches the Berkshire sows, Trinny and Susannah, go under the slaughterman's knife.
Looking pale and shaken, the Glaswegian chef sees the 24-month-old pigs stunned by an electric shock to the brain, before being shackled by the hind legs and hoisted to the ceiling. Their throats are then unceremoniously slit.
Ramsay's grisly ordeal does not end there. During the sequence - which will go out after the 9pm watershed - the dead pigs begin "gurgling" as blood pours out of their bodies, and kicking due to an apparent nervous reaction.
He then watches as the bodies of Trinny and Susannah - named after the television fashion gurus Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine - are put into a scalding tank. They are later shaved and disembowelled, and hung in a meat store.
Ramsay, who had never visited an abattoir, struggles to describe his feelings. "Not pleasant," he says. "The whole operation is extraordinary. Quite emotional really. I felt sick as a fucking dog in there. Next I will think of something really nice to cook with them. But it's not a nice experience."
During the series, Ramsay has been shown fattening up the pigs in the garden of his home in Wandsworth, London. Next week, he will feed them to diners in a Chelsea restaurant created for the programme. The decision to screen graphic footage of the slaughter process has met with the approval of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), which lobbies against the meat and farming industries.
Last week, Peta wrote to Ramsay urging him not to "censor" footage of the moment of slaughter.
A spokesman said: "Paul McCartney once said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. If The F-Word slaughter turns out to be as graphic and gory as we hear it is, then these animals' deaths will not have been completely in vain, since they will turn many compassionate people into vegetarians."
Meanwhile, Channel 4 was bracing itself for a flood of complaints. On the last series of the show, 27 viewers contacted Ofcom after footage that showed six of Ramsay's pet turkeys being killed was screened before the watershed.
Ofcom later cleared the broadcaster, saying that viewers had been given plenty of warning about what was likely to occur. "There were no unduly distressing scenes," it said in its judgment.
This time, Channel 4 said that the footage would be screened laterto avoid further complaints.
"This is the final segment of the programme, which is aired at almost 10pm," said a spokeswoman.
"It's always been explicitly stated throughout the series that Trinny and Susannah are being reared for consumption. A lot of people are in denial about how products arrive on the shelf, and the conditions of farm animals, and one of the points of the series is to show how that happens. Gordon has always tried to give them the best life, and believes in using animals from sensitively-sourced farms."
Another issue of the animal rights lobby will also be tackled in tonight's show when Janet Street-Porter encourages viewers to eat British veal.