August 21, 2018

Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier gives us Food for Thought

Comedian John Richardson has enough anxieties to fill an entire TV series, and the latest episode of Ultimate Worrier turns the spotlight on food, getting its teeth into the subject of the nation’s eating habits.

Jon’s personal worries are more to do with how people eat, rather than what they eat. It’s the way comedian Rob Beckett takes a big bite out of the middle of the sandwich that concerns him. That’s sacrilege. Jon eats the crusts first and save the middle for later, in line with the Jaffa Cake rule of leaving the orange bit ‘til last.

While being picky isn’t the secret of a balanced diet, balance is hardly the basis for rich comic material. One school of thought has it that laughter is based on fear, and Jon’s cautious approach to food makes him both funny and less prone to obesity.

Guest Victoria Coren-Mitchell believes that food is better than it used to be, giving the example of her grandparents cooking a roast dinner a day in advance, then heating it up. Impressive forward planning, beating the old Northern habit of boiling a pan of potatoes into submission.

Food is both better and worse than it used to be, as supply and demand becomes more complex, and it all boils down to a matter of choice. A wider variety of products on supermarket shelves allows for healthier choices, but also offers huge temptation in the form of junk foods.

Jon’s foray into food happened to air in the same week that chef Jamie Oliver called for cartoon characters to be banned from cereal packets, in a move to encourage children to eat a better breakfast. Cute furry creatures that have worked in marketing for decades are now seen as a sneaky part of the sugar-coating.

With tigers fast becoming endangered, Tony and his Frosties are also under threat. His disappearance might lead to sugary cereals being dropped, mostly onto the floor, as angry children protest that grown-ups are taking the fun out of food.

As many parents will attest, you may tempt a toddler with a raw carrot stick dipped in Dairylea, but don’t push your luck by offering plain boiled veg. We all know that sticking a pair of googly eyes on a floret of broccoli and calling it Billy isn’t going to cut it with the kids.

For most people, eating well means enjoying their meals. Eating things that taste nice, rather than things which are good for you, can lead to skipping the sprouts in favour of a drip-feed of sugar and fat. It’s clear what happens when you start down this rocky road: chocolate, biscuits and marshmallows can all be consumed in a single mouthful.

One bowl of sugary cereal isn’t going to do much harm. It’s when that becomes part of a typical daily intake which also includes burgers, fried chicken, crisps, cupcakes and biscuits washed down with a litre of fizzy drinks. Bad habits can be hard to break, but we all have to start somewhere. It’s summer – so take one less slice of pizza, add a salad and go easy on the dressing.

The Ultimate Warrior is available on UKTV.

by Angela Lord

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