TV Review: Jamie’s Food Revolution, Channel 4 and 4oD

It’s been 15 years since Jamie Oliver slid down a spiral banister and into our lives, and whilst he remains the same old scooter riding Peter Pan, decked out in his Kevin the Teenager garb, Jamie PLC has been busy carving out a serious business empire – what with the magazine, the stolidly suburban restaurant chain, (currently raising funding to launch 30 branches across Asia), the home shopping network, the Fifteen project and his TV production company (last seen attempting to foist the cloyingly indigestible Sophie Dahl upon the nation) And let’s not even get started on Jamie’s Dream School…(reviewed excellently by Brit here).

Since annoying every schoolchild in the country by removing the only tasty things on their lunch menus, Jamie has now decided to bring his puritanical powers to bear upon the Yanks in his never-ending quest for world domination. The first foray stateside two years ago basically ended in Oliver being run out of town; despite winning an Emmy award for the show, the deep-fried Deep South town he’d chosen to enlighten remained stoutly unconverted, so this time he’s picked on Los Angeles, probably because he thought the cultist Californians would be easier to persuade, and probably because he wouldn’t mind living there.

The show finds Jamie attempting to gain access to the progressive West Adams High School, run by another Jamie dude who also looks like he goes to the shops on his scooter. The two immediately set up a smouldering bromance and compete to see whose hair can be scruffier. Unfortunately the LA school board aren’t impressed with Jamie’s hair, and worry that he’ll make them look like wallies, so they deny him access to every school canteen in the entire district. Thus forced onto the back foot and deprived of his initial angle of attack, Jamie desperately roots around trying to fill 5 hours of programming, which is made harder by the fact that there’s not a single recipe featured in the entire show.

Various fast food vendors and fat families are wheeled on for our prurient disapproval. They all seem to be nice people, but we are left in no doubt that they are very bad. The only way for them to absolve themselves is by listening to Jamie, agreeing with Jamie and then crying and hugging Jamie. This happens a lot. This is where Oliver’s ostensibly admirable crusade starts to get odd. The show is obviously edited crudely for the purpose of evangelisation, but it has the effect of making Jamie appear to have a bit of a messiah complex.  Every couple of minutes we see a fat person cry out “You’re so RIGHT, Jamie!” before they appear in an infomercial-style  studio shot proclaiming what a great guy Jamie is and how they have seen the light and been saved Alleluia! This is then followed by a head shot of Jamie agreeing with himself. Considering Oliver produces the programme it feels a bit creepy, and coupled with his intensely annoying habit of doing gangsta handshakes and calling everybody ‘bruvva’, it makes for sickeningly saccharine viewing. American viewers must have agreed as the show was cancelled half way through the run due to poor ratings; the fact that there’s only 5 episodes and that it has had a relatively subdued advertising push in the UK gives every impression that this was not Jamie’s finest hour.

Dabbler Review is brought to you by Glengoyne single malt whisky – the Dabbler’s choice.
Share This Post

About Author Profile: Worm

In between dealing with all things technological in the Dabbler engine room, Worm writes the weekly Wikiworm column every Saturday and our monthly Book Club newsletters.

25 thoughts on “TV Review: Jamie’s Food Revolution, Channel 4 and 4oD

    June 22, 2011 at 08:47

    Arf! Great stuff Worm.

    It takes a strange kind of Messiah complex to go on a mission to the wealthiest country in the world. That’s two stinkers in a row from Jamie – time to go back to cooking stuff, I think.

    (For balance, I’ve been to the Jamie’s Italian in Bath a few times and it’s pretty damn good – decent, inexpensive grub and excellent service).

  2. Worm
    June 22, 2011 at 09:11

    Well Brit it looks like Jamie has heeded your advice – he’s gone for a risk free no-brainer for his next show – Jamie’s Great Britain, featuring all his favourite pub grub, so expect plenty of recipes involving him talking about how he loves his muvver’s home cooked sunday roasts, and was raised on a diet of pie and mash and jellied eels dahn the old rub-a-dub, knees ap mavver brahn etcetc

    PC tristram-speak from the new show’s producer in the Guardian
    “In this new series we see him travelling across Britain to discover the fascinating stories of how our own food, the dishes we think of as traditionally British, are actually a product of the rich melting pot of cultures that have made our country what it is today.”

    June 22, 2011 at 09:22

    I’m parti pris: my elder son works as a chef at Fifteen, where he spends his days turning seriously screwed up young people not merely into chefs but into individuals who can function in the world beyond the streets (or, as many of them have experienced, some variety of prison). Nor have I ever watched Jamie and reports being what they are, I shudder at the thought. Yet it seems to me that in a world where style invariably overshadows substance, if substance even exists, Jamie’s substance is of much more importance than what is generally accepted as his cringe-worthy style. He throws himself into projects and they don’t work as planned, but I have to admire the throwing. After all: school food is unhealthy crap, and the villain’s menacing phrase ‘do you like hospital food?’ didn’t emerge from nowhere. Both are dominated by vested interests, which have nothing to do with those either of the schoolchildren or of the hospital patients. This may sound naive, coming from a cynical old slang-gatherer, but yes, I admire him. If nothing else, for trying.

      ian russell
      June 22, 2011 at 13:17

      Good on yer, Jonathon Green. Of course, I don’t really know the bloke from Adam but, intuitively, he’s always struck me as a sound chap amongst the TV celebrity herd. He’s a bloody role model! and if he carries on like he is he’ll no doubt become a national treasure, in a baseball cap and pumps.

  4. Worm
    June 22, 2011 at 09:32

    Jonathon I do genuinely admire him for his concience and his ability to motivate people to change their lives for the better, and I must say I have every one of his cookery books and refer to them at least a few times a week. The content is mostly very admirable, it’s the delivery that sometimes grates

  5. Gaw
    June 22, 2011 at 09:35

    Perhaps he’s like those Victorian philanthropists? Full of good works but a bit of a pain in the arse.

    June 22, 2011 at 09:49

    He was very good on the battery chickens too.

  7. Worm
    June 22, 2011 at 09:58

    Forgot about that one Brit, that was a good show about a good cause.

    The thing I wonder about Jamie is how long is he going to keep up the hoodies and skate wear, and how will he ‘rebrand’ himself when the time finally comes to hang up his baseball caps? Perhaps he’ll remain a perpetual child, like Keith Chegwin or Wee Jimmy Krankie

    June 22, 2011 at 10:25

    Oliver is one of those individuals whose face, as they say, is his fortune, possessed of a character where er, the womenfolk find his cuddliness irresistible he is the typical cheeky chappie, a worthy successor to Max Miller. The accent helps, rarely works if northern although Antdec or Decant seem to pull it of. Possessed of a minor talent in an industry, TV chefery, awash with mediocrity that takes excellent raw material and mushes it into junk product that appeals to the programme makers desperation to fill the schedules as cheaply as possible, Elisabeth David must rotate on her catafalque.

    His attempt to have our westerly cousins change their grazing habits is interesting and generates phrases such as cat in hells chance

    He is however the Archangel Gabriel compared with that shaven headed plonker Blooming Hestontal.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:12

      I wouldn’t argue. I stand only for his intentions. Fulfilled or otherwise. As for Elizabeth David: not on the same page, nor indeed the same book.

    June 22, 2011 at 10:46

    Jamie does seem to be a force for good in the world despite how he names his kids.
    I like the perpetual child analogy Worm … Keith Chegwin … I remember a spoof documentary on Viz ruining Cheggers’ career by slagging him off, my Mum viewed it as genuine and said how awful it was as Cheggers was so nice.

      June 22, 2011 at 13:19

      Cheggers made a memorable appearance in Gervais’ Extras playing a racist sexist version of Cheggers.

      • Worm
        June 22, 2011 at 13:52

        apparently chegger’s autobiography is one of the most inadvertently amusing stories you will ever read

    Joey Joe Joe Jr.
    June 22, 2011 at 12:21

    I miss turkey twizzlers.

    June 22, 2011 at 13:09

    There is no doubt that he can be irritating to watch, but anyone who takes on The Fat Lobby gets my vote.

      June 22, 2011 at 13:16

      Don’t you reckon Jamie is a bit of a chunky monkey himself though, Toby? Are you sure he’d qualify for the Thin Lobby…?

        June 22, 2011 at 13:27

        Oh Brit it is quite obvious. The Fat Lobby want him out the way and are trying to discredit him by secretly feeding him Mars bars while he is asleep. He’s a thin man fighting for his life against the evil lard-arse empire.

          June 22, 2011 at 13:51

          This Fat Lobby conspiracy is even more dangerous that I realised. We need to get Adam Curtis on the case…

    ian russell
    June 22, 2011 at 13:32

    ”…he wouldn’t mind living there”.

    Well, I mean, I’ve not been everywhere but I’ve seen things and the US strikes me as a strange place for a foodie. Fads and fussiness abound, and most of their food appears uncannily like photos of serving suggestions.

    And that doggy bag thing….

    • Worm
      June 22, 2011 at 13:39

      dangerous talk Ian, I’m sure some of our american readers will beg to differ!

      Banished To A Pompous Land
      June 22, 2011 at 18:41

      Its actually ‘Would you like a (styrofoam) box for that?’

      Yeah sure I’ll take it home and throw it in the bin and save you the effort.

      It is hard work here thats for sure. Even if you want to do something remotely edible its so difficult to get decent ingredients. And no ones ever heard of lamb apparently.

      $5.75 for a packet of McVities Chocolate Homewheat. In the words of Anthony Aloysius St John Hancock ‘Stone me, what a life!’

      All in all I’d go with the flow in that Jamie is generally a good thing when not being overly sanctimonious. I get to watch his cookery stuff, on a rather hit & miss schedule, on PBS. I don’t watch Nigella anymore though because Mrs. Banished takes my innocent foodie drooling as being over the curvey rather than culinary.

    June 22, 2011 at 14:16

    All you need is a cheeky grin and man, you’re in. Didn’t I say, didn’t I, oh yes I did, 20 comments so far, is it art, poetry, bookish stuff, oh no it’s not, it’s scoffing talk, grub, provender, that’s what gets everybody up tight, never mind Sandro or Vincent, Mike the Angelo, Pablo or Gerhard, Ludwig or JS Bach, it’s the ham sandwiches and Tizer, that’s what.

    A stall at this years Melrose Sevens.. “Cheggers Chipolatas”

    June 22, 2011 at 16:19

    Worm, jesting apart Jamies genuine attempts to use his celebrity as an instrument of good are to be admired, his heart is in the right place and his energy seems boundless, as usual others may wish to exploit that, hopefully he will overcome those problems and succeed, I wish him luck.

    June 23, 2011 at 06:31

    I was in Germany two years ago, in Frankfurt to be precise, and I saw his face on a billboard. And I asked myself: why do the Germans need Jamie Oliver? Why do they need to dub this ponce into German? Don’t they have their own irritating cheekie chappie chef, telling off the Hun for scoffing too much Bratwurst and not enough spinach pizza (which I ate once, Berlin- it was foul)? I mean Germany is a big country. It also has excitable yoof programme hosts with silly haircuts.

    And then he came to the states, which is even bigger, but here I think he positions himself as the Yin to Gordon Ramsey’s Yang, or whichever it is. But do Americans need nice Britons? I think not. The land is awash with native people saying nice things. they need Britons for devastatingly rude put downs. Oliver is otiose.

Comments are closed.