CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Forget fake news… fake cheese is the real problem to chew over
Secrets Of Your Supermarket Food
The Big Night In
To listen to Donald Trump and his querimonious outbursts, you’d think ‘fake news’ never existed before he arrived in the White House.
Not true. Fake news is old, as old as soul music. Marvin Gaye warned us about it: ‘Believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear.’ Marvin must have known about Facebook.
But now civilisation faces a new threat — fake cheese.
Presenter Stefan Gates exposed this pre-processed evil on the entertaining and informative Secrets Of Your Supermarket Food (C5), as he mixed up a vatful of his own. A glug of palm oil, a trowelful of powdered starch, a dollop of vegetable fat and a sprinkling of whey protein went into the recipe, along with a squirt of yellow food dye to make it even more appetising.
Sian Williams investigated how much air goes into soft ice cream as part of Secrets of Your Supermarket Food
Stefan was thrilled with his low-cost gunk, which cost an eighth of the price of the real thing. ‘Traditional cheese is made from milk,’ he explained, in case any viewers believed the stories (started by Wallace and Gromit) about a Wensleydale mine on the moon.
He took his fake cheese to a London family pizzeria, where chef Franco was a maestro with the mozzarella topping. Could processed fat taste as good, Stefan wondered? After all, that’s what they use for cheap supermarket pizzas.
Everything in Franco’s Italian soul cried out against the experiment. ‘Horrible to do it,’ he lamented. He sprinkled the fake stuff on one pizza base, then lovingly grated the best Neapolitan white cheese on the other and loaded them into the oven.
Fake-cheese pizza, it turns out, looks like a bad case of bubonic plague, all pustulent blotches on a crimson background. Stefan tried a taste but he couldn’t describe it out loud because his mouth was clagged up.
After he recovered, he set about discovering how chocolate manufacturers get the bubbles into their bars to make them bigger and lighter.
Who could have guessed that the pinpoint prickles in a Wispa are created with injections of nitrogen, while the honeycombing in an Aero is done with carbon dioxide?
Bloodbath of the night:
With its rock soundtrack and vintage dress sense, and every thug in a suit and tie, Gangs Of London (Sky Atlantic) feels like a classic crime movie. But the cartoon ultraviolence is like nothing ever seen on TV before. Very messy.
Co-presenter Sian Williams investigated the related question of how much air goes into soft ice cream. I was waiting for her to mention that the whipped variety, as served with a 99 Flake, was invented by a young Margaret Thatcher, during her years as a chemist after graduating from Oxford in the Forties.
That’s what the Bishop of London told mourners in his funeral address in 2013, that Maggie was ‘part of the team that invented Mr Whippy’.
So I checked and it’s not true, apparently. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, she worked on cake fillings and soap.The story is blamed on Left-wing propaganda. It’s probably just more fake cheese then.
As an antidote to all the misinformation about coronavirus on social media, The Big Night In (BBC1) was three hours of honest laughs. There can never have been such a low-budget charity special on telly, but this combined effort from Children In Need and Comic Relief relied on genuine goodwill from the stars, not razzmatazz, to raise our spirits.
Following on from Sunday’s One World concerts from artistes’ living rooms, the stars of Little Britain joined Lenny Henry, Gary Barlow, Catherine Tate and a cavalcade of others. Classic sketches added to the laughter.
Long ago, Britons gathered round the piano when we wanted to make our own entertainment. Now, we crowd round tablets and smartphone screens to cheer each other up. And it works a treat.