Regular readers (bless you!) will know that I rate both Jamie Oliver and this series. It’s turned out, perhaps predictably, to be quite controversial and I’ve had a look at the ‘Jamie Go Home’ blog which is vituperative in its loathing of Oliver. I think he’s that sort of a celeb: you either love him or hate him.
But I defy anyone to remain unmoved by scenes of one of Jamie’s Rotherham proteges and a star of the programme, Natasha, breaking down in tears after realising she could hold her own in front of a row of Hull town hall officials. The woman who could not cook a thing a few months ago staged a cookery demonstration in the intimidating atmosphere of Hull’s panelled banqueting hall. Afterwards, having forgotten that it was all “too posh” for her in there, Natasha reflected on how her life wasn’t necessarily over after having kids at 15 and failing to learn to read and write properly. She’s found something she can do – cook – and, at the end of the programme, Oliver revealed he’d helped get her a place at catering college.
The editing of the programme was clunky, spinning out the possibly jeopardy of Rotherham town council not funding Jamie’s Ministry of Food shop for another year after the celebrity had left town. The sequence of events with Natasha also seemed awry – as if she knew she was going to catering college when she was doing the demo in Hull, which we the audience didn’t know until the end of the programme, although there was a laden conversation on a park bench between her and Jamie about whether she wanted to “take the next step” or not.
But aside from editing and Ian Jury’s, sorry, Timothy Spall’s commentary, it was a good series so thanks, Channel 4.
Amusingly, I have had reason to email Jamie’s PR today with a tiny query on a feature I’m doing, and got an ‘out of office’ reply back because the PR and presumably Jamie are “on business in Europe”, which may mean there’s some truth in the idea that Jamie’s trying to sell the Ministry of Food concept to Germany and the Netherlands.
What brought me up short, though, was the PR’s reminder that “if your email is about wanting to send Jools some baby stuff” you should send it to a certain address. Companies or individuals really do that? Send things to celebrity people they know are pregnant? This will really stoke the ‘Jamie Go Home’ brigade.