CULINARY superstar Jamie Oliver must be used to being recognised. Even while visiting the vibrant Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakesh, the name of TV's most beloved chef rang excitedly through the crowds. "Gordon Ramsay!" they cried.
To his credit, Oliver took the confusion in good spirit, even when someone shouted "Delia Smith!" as though playing a desperate game of celebrity chef roulette.
Ironically, he only became annoyed upon discovering that the legend of Saint Jamie actually had reached Morocco. He tried his best to sound jokey when admonishing a cheeky market trader selling homemade menus with Oliver's fizzog on the cover, but you could tell he was narked. Still, the trader was lucky that he hadn't tried the same con with Ramsay, who would have burned his stall down.
Oliver is an altogether more amenable figure. Sure, he's a bumbling twit, but I find that almost endearing now, whereas I used to find him irritating. In Jamie Does…, a new series in which he explores foreign cultures through their food, he was his usual over-chummy self, calling everyone "my friend", "my boy" or "brother" and using faltering French at every opportunity. "Une carrote, monsieur?" Whenever that failed, he employed the classic Englishman abroad trick of miming and onomatopoeia to get his point across. Thus "glug glug" was enough to secure some olive oil from a bemused stallholder.
The lacklustre title sequence, in which Oliver just sort of hangs out next to a wall looking confused, sums up his approach whenever travelling abroad. He means well, does his best, but always ends up looking a bit lost. Mercifully, however, this series concentrates solely on cooking, unlike his previous travelogue, Jamie's American Road Trip, in which he made the disastrous mistake of trying to say something significant about the cultures he encountered. Realising that sociological sagacity is not his forte, he's returned to what he does best: making cooking look easy, rewarding and fun.
The programme also captured the dazzling, maze-like chaos of central Marrakesh. Suitably inspired, our host tried to sum it up. "It's literally like going back to …" He paused, searching momentarily for the perfect analogy. Ancient Arabia perhaps? Scheherazade's tales? Come on Jamie, you can do it! "Oliver Twist days." Ah yes, old Morocco, that quintessentially Dickensian town.
Ham-fistedness aside, at least he betrays a genuine passion and respect for foreign cultures. Back in the square, he encountered a group of boys excitedly reciting catchphrases from Little Britain. "What have we done to this beautiful country?" he sighed, quite sincerely. What indeed.
In The Man Who Injects Venom, so-called self-immuniser Steve Ludwin revealed his remarkable – and highly dangerous – experiments with snake venom. Ludwin, and a handful of fellow experimenters, regularly inject themselves with small amounts of deadly venom in the interest of medical science.
It might sound irresponsible, but according to one eminent immunologist: "There is a possibility that in future we'll say, 'Why didn't we all inject snake venom into our arms, because that helps you against disease A, B, C, D and E.'"
Tests proved that Ludwin's venom intake had bolstered his immune system, and that his intoxicated blood could prove vital in the fight against fatal diseases. Fascinating.