CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews weekend TV: From rapper to pretentious art critic in a jiffy


Extraordinary portraits


Stanley Tucci: in search of Italy


Aren’t celebrities wonderful? They can do whatever they want, you know, just through the power of self-confidence.

Take Tinie Tempah, the rapper turned real estate developer and TV presenter. His name is now “Tinie” – he lost his Tempah.

He’s also an art critic, apparently.

“I’m self-taught,” he pointed out in Extraordinary Portraits (BBC1), just in case we were worried he was encumbered with something as boring as expertise or formal education.

“Creativity is everything to me,” he explained, as he strolled through the National Gallery, waving the paintings around as if they belonged to him.

“Art allowed me to share my story with the world and helped me understand all my different sides.”

This pretentious waffle means nothing but proves that Tinie is a world-class bluffer, who is not afraid to squirt some voluminous horse feathers. Maybe he is a natural art critic after all.

His new six-part series has him commissioning photos of ‘ordinary British heroes’, not just ‘power and money’ people – although he was quick to let us know his own image was on display at the National Portrait Gallery.

Musician Tinie hosts the new BBC Arts show which aims to

Musician Tinie hosts new BBC Arts show which aims to ‘spotlight contemporary British heroes’

Georgia and Melissa Laurie, 28-year-old twins, who made headlines last summer after being attacked by crocodiles while swimming on vacation in Mexico, were the first to be immortalized.

Georgia risked her life to punch and kick the creature until she could free Mel. Then she sang to her sister to keep her conscious while they waited for medical help.

Artist Roxana Halls was commissioned to paint their dual portraits, though what she did was pose them for a photograph that served as a model for her works.

Whether this is a Covid precaution or his usual method has not been explained.

The inevitable result was an image that looked like a reworked photo, the kind of illustration graphic designers produce for magazines every week.

The need for artificial tension and a dramatic “revelation” at the end of the half hour meant that we didn’t see much of the artist’s technique.

Instead, the art was presented as something magical, to be admired but not understood.

Hollywood star Stanley Tucci marveled at every dish as he explored his parents’ homeland on Searching For Italy (BBC2).

The inexplicable magic here was about Stan’s ability to poke fun at pizza, pork pies, plates of spaghetti, and wine-flambéed bunnies, all while remaining as slim as Botticelli’s paintbrush.

In white pants as tight as leggings, he looked like a ballet dancer wearing Eric Morecambe’s NHS spec.

This foodie travel documentary, the first of six, was just 40 minutes long. Designed for the US market, it left room for 20 minutes of commercials.

Hollywood actor Stanley Tucci travels Italy to uncover the secrets and delights of the country's regional cuisines in a new BBC series

Hollywood actor Stanley Tucci travels Italy to uncover the secrets and delights of the country’s regional cuisines in a new BBC series

The overall effect, as he traveled from Naples to Minori on the Amalfi Coast, was rushed and disjointed.

Stan narrated in American style, his inflection falling at the end of each line so that each sentence sounded like a final statement. If you’ve ever wondered why American documentaries always seem so heavy and bombastic, this is the reason.

It ceased to matter when the camera lingered on a stunning view and, in a seaside restaurant during a storm, on Italian weather. Lightning cracked open a mauve sky, before the film crew dove inside for shelter from “hail the size of Amalfi lemons”.

We’ve also seen mozzarella congeal from buffalo milk and Neapolitan scholars first took a liking to bread fried in olive oil during outbreaks of cholera – the bubbling vats killing the virus.

High calorie hygiene. . . it’s greasy but healthy. What more could you want?


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