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Has OT gone slightly OTT?

"THERE'S so much obesity around us, we don't even notice it anymore," opined Dr Eva Orsmond, the country's best- known obesity expert, on Operation Transformation last night.

MMM, I wouldn't be too sure about that, Doc. Just go to your nearest fast-food joint, your nearest pub or your nearest supermarket. Obesity is pretty hard to miss when you're stuck in a queue behind it.

The popularity of the ugly, shapeless tracksuit -- a peculiar fashion outrage that, like wearing your pyjamas while doing the shopping or picking the kids up from school, seems exclusive to ourselves and the British -- hasn't quite disguised the layers of blubber warping the waistbands of the nation.

In fact, all you have to do to see how big the problem of bigness has become is look at television, where there are now more programmes with the words 'fat' and 'obese' in their title than there are sofa adverts at Christmas time.

Among weight loss shows, Operation Transformation, a multi-platform endeavour that runs across TV, John Murray's Radio 1 show and the internet, has always stood out as one of the better ones.

It's had a positive knock-on effect at local community level, where independently organised events sparked by the series are now commonplace, and this year even some of the major supermarket chains are getting involved by promoting the programme's dietary advice in their stores.

Generally, the programme has been a force for good. Even though the smugness of some of its experts occasionally grates, it's always put the emphasis on positivity rather than punishment or ridicule.

Unlike something like ITV's wretched The Biggest Loser, which was deservedly axed last year after attracting more than its fair share of controversy, you never got the feeling with Operation Transformation that the contestants were being exploited purely for the entertainment of viewers who enjoy watching overweight people huff and puff their way up a hill or down a swimming pool.

This year, however, something seems to have changed. The good intentions are still plain to see, but OT appears to have gone ever so slightly OTT. The tone, typified by effervescent presenter Kathryn Thomas, is as chirpy and upbeat as before, yet an unwelcome note of maudlin sentimentality has crept into the proceedings.

Last night's show (there's another one tonight) chose two of the series' five leaders, both of whom had sad backstories to relate. One involved the breakdown of a marriage; the other concerned the recent death of a beloved father. Each was underscored by downbeat music and accompanied by shots of the leaders shedding tears.

I know as far as TV is concerned, crying is the new laughing. People on The X Factor are obliged to sob hysterically, whether they've made it to the next round or been booted off.

But OT was perfectly fine without this uncomfortable level of personal disclosure.

"I want everyone gathered at the mill in 10 minutes," barked Death in Paradise's buttoned-up English cop Richard Poole, who's been transplanted from Croydon to the Caribbean island of Sainte-Marie and insists on going out in the midday sun wearing a black suit and tie and clutching a briefcase.

Just like Hercule Poirot or Colombo, Poole, played with deadpan likeability by Ben Miller, wraps up a case by gathering all the suspects together in one room and unmasks the murderer using a combination of canny deduction and strategically placed flashbacks.

Death in Paradise, which this week saw a sugar plantation owner end up with a machete in his back, is pure tosh. The plots are silly and the cosy set-up makes Midsomer Murders look like The Wire.

Yet thanks to the exotic setting and the chemistry between Miller and his sexy sidekick, played by Sara Martins, it's tremendously good fun.

Guilty pleasures don't come any guiltier.