Why must sex pervade everything on TV? Not even Mary Berry's mince pies are safe

By the time the festive Nigella popped up, bosom heaving, viewers were in need of Viagra. Thankfully, she had a massive supply.
  • @VivGroskop

Might it be possible, just for one moment, to accept that not everything in life has to be sexy? And that this need not threaten the survival of sex. In fact, it might even enhance it. In a world where sex is used to sell everything – from stale panettone and suet-free mincemeat to Royal icing and Mary Berry’s mince pies – as a nation we are surely in danger of wanting to becoming entirely celibate.

This week has seen a bumper crop of Christmas foodie TV shows. What did they all have in common? Honey-toned voiceovers, lingering shots of bulging foodstuffs, and a cornucopia of soft-focus shots and come-hither looks. And all this before Nigella had pouted, “I want a really nubbly filling”.

It’s hardly a new thing to suggest that Nigella Lawson’s shows are filled with innuendo. But now even poor Mary Berry is not immune to the sexification of everything but the kitchen sink. Except, in the case of the Great British Bake-Off Christmas Masterclass, this included, of course, the kitchen sink. It was a Shaker-style sunken Dublin to die for. Or at least to take out a second mortgage for.

Other than the eye-watering close-ups of raspberries hitting their targets, the festive Bake-Off itself was relatively innocent. But the trailer... Weaving together Nigella’s heavy breathing and Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood’s knowing looks, it was a frightening thing to behold. It featured a soundtrack of a barely conscious Rupert Penry-Jones sounding as if he was lying on a sun-lounger on the set of Boogie Nights. And was that a lascivious wink over the “heavily beaten” egg whites that passed between Berry and Hollywood? If there wasn’t, then the programme’s editors willed it there.

In recent months, MasterChef has tried hard to get away from the “food porn” that has become the norm, by emphasising technique and the importance of being obsessive-compulsive at all times. But Michel’s Classics sadly only serves to showcase how far down the road of fetishisation we’ve come. Freshly scrubbed, attractive Frenchman proffering Burgundian freshwater bouillabaisse, anyone? Non, merci. Can we have fish fingers grilled by Nora Batty, please?

By the time the festive Nigella popped up, bosom heaving, viewers were in need of Viagra. Thankfully, she had a massive supply. The script was worthy of a Carry On film: “Pour it in as slowly as I can bear...”, “Wonderful, voluptuous cream...”, “Just what I always want to find in my stocking!” This is what it has come to. Fifty Shades: The Festive Feast. I watched it open-mouthed. Which seemed appropriate.

What do I most want in my stocking this year? A world where no one on Christmas cookery shows makes nudge-nudge wink-wink gestures to actual stockings. I’ll leave a carrot out, Santa. Don’t do anything rude with it.