herald

Monday 18 December 2017

No winners in this critic's food show

DOM JOLY AND THE BLACK ISLAND (C4) MICHAEL WINNER'S DINING STARS (ITV) STACEY'S STARS Dom Joly and the Black Island HIIII Michael Winner's Dining Stars HHIII

As we know from Trigger Happy TV, Dom Joly is a fearless comedian who'll go to extreme lengths to get a laugh. In Dom Joly and the Black Island -- a peculiar tribute to his boyhood hero Tintin, the fictional boy detective -- Joly tried to snatch a dog resembling Snowy, Tintin's faithful canine companion, from outside a restaurant in Brussels.

This stunt didn't get a laugh, just a bemused reaction from passers-by and a horrified one from the dog's distraught, female owner, who chased Joly down the street.

By the way, Joly was dressed as Tintin at the time, in sky-blue sweater, buttoned-up shirt, plus fours and trademark ginger, whipped-cream quiff. It was a very odd moment in a very odd little programme -- assuming, that is, it was for real and not a set-up.

Joly recreated Tintin's journey from the comic book The Black Island. This entailed taking a ferry, train and plane from Tintin's home country of Belgium to Scotland's Isle of Barra, and then on to a smaller nearby island whose ruined castle featured in the book.

Along the way he visited the office where Tintin's creator, Herge (real name, George Remi), dreamt up and drew his globetrotting adventures, and shared a train journey with "top Tintinologist" George Farr, who, with his moon-face and dot-eyes, looks more like Tintin than Joly does.

I'm sure all this was a small treat for Tintin fans, who are legion; for everyone else, though, it was pointless, inconsequential, baffling and unfunny. The strangest thing of all was that it was screened in the First Cut lot, which is usually reserved for straightforward documentaries.

Michael Winner's Dining Stars reached its thrilling climax last night. Have you been watching this? It's fascinatingly awful. Basically, it sees the worst film director in the world, who reinvented himself as a fearsome restaurant critic for a Sunday newspaper, trying to reinvent himself all over again as a cantankerous, but essentially lovable, comedy grouch. It's not working, chiefly because Winner is a monumental tool.

Each week he emerges from his 48-room mansion in London's swanky Holland Park so a couple of "ordinary people" (ie, ones without Holland Park mansions) can cook him dinner in their homes. Depending on how much he likes it, he awards them one, two or three of his precious Perspex stars. Between meals, Winner noses around the neighbourhood, annoying locals and roaring theatrically at his two female PAs.

The two finalists cooked separate meals for him at a coastal fort which was built to repel Napoleon, but didn't stand a chance against the director of Death Wish 1-4. The prize for the, er, winner was the honour of cooking yet ANOTHER meal for Winner and a bunch of his celebrity pals, including Roger Moore.

Winner shovels food into his mouth with the enthusiasm of a man digging his worst enemy's grave. No wonder he looks like a constipated hog.

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