Magazine article The Spectator

Fave Presenters

Magazine article The Spectator

Fave Presenters

Article excerpt

There were two quite interestingsounding programmes I had lined up for review this week. One was a comedy drama called Hunting Venus (ITV, Wednesday) starring Mark Williams from The Fast Show, Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey as members of a tacky New Romantic pop group which had reluctantly reformed. The other was the second part of Laughter In The House: The Story of the British Sitcom (BBC 1, Wednesday), which dealt with the Seventies.

I reckon I would have found quite a few amusing things to say about them because New Romanticism was sort of my era (I once wore white lipstick and lipgloss, anyway) and because I've always had a soft spot for On The Buses. And if neither had been much cop, I could have spent the rest of my review singing the praises of my favourite herpetologist, Australia's Steve `he's getting a bit cranky' Irwin, whose testicles were very nearly bitten by a rattler on last week's Deadly Rattlesnakes with Steve Irwin (ITV, Wednesday) and who is now such an international cult figure, he even featured in an episode of South Park.

Unfortunately, I can't do any of these because I haven't seen them yet. There was a bit of a cock-up in the Speccer offices (the tapes were posted instead of being biked) which nearly resulted in my leaving a very, very nasty message on dear Liz's answer machine. I can be really evil when I'm angry, so I'm rather glad I didn't because it would have ruined my reputation for generally being sweetness and light. Then again, someone once told me that when you deal with Will Self on the phone, he can sometimes be all tetchy and `Don't you know who I am?' and sometimes charm itself. So maybe I should practise these mood swings myself in preparation for summer 2000 when my seminal shark novel fin is published and I become as famous as he is.

Anyway, what I thought I'd do instead is mention a few of the programmes I have seen, even though they weren't all on this week. The first of these is Escape To River Cottage (Channel 4, Sunday) in which the shaggy-haired urban gourmand Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall `down-shifted' to an idyllic riparian cottage in Dorset to breed pigs and then turn them into sausages, wind-dried hams, terrines, chops, ribs, crunchy-ear titbits etc. It isn't on any more, unfortunately, but it deserves a retrospective mention because, even though I gather Hugh has grown even more horribly pleased with himself than he was when I knew him at Oxford, he is a culinary television presenter of quite spectacular genius and bloodthirsty charm, whom I would be happy to watch every day of the week. …

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