ITV1's blog

Tuesday, 23 June 2009, 8:00PM – 9:00PM

The average British diet is making us fat and unhealthy, with nearly one in four of us in the UK diagnosed clinically obese. In contrast, people in some other countries stay slimmer and live longer, healthier lives. So what’s their secret?

In the new two-part factual series World’s Best Diet, presenter Jonathan Maitland and four celebrities — Linda Robson, Cheryl Baker, Darren Gough and Carole Malone – set out on a journey to discover why these other cultures are bucking the obesity trend and how they compare to the UK.

From raw fish in Japan to the low-carb diet in California; from vegetarian curry in India to the Mediterranean diet in Italy – each of the celebrities travel to a different nation, immersing themselves in the local cultural attitude towards healthy living and learning to cook their food. They are then challenged to maintain their regime when they return to the UK for a further five weeks.

At the same time, presenter Jonathan examines what has happened to our eating habits in the UK by reverting back to the typical post-war diet that his parents would have followed.

Which one of our contestants will lose the most weight and emerge the healthiest? And which one of the diets could turn out to be a new way of life?

In part one of the series, we meet our participants who are all desperate to shed the pounds.

Former cricketer and champion dancer Darren Gough may not look overweight at first glance, but his measurements put him in the obese category.

“I’ve suddenly retired and I need to nip it in the bud now before it gets out of hand,” he says. “I like my drink…I like my food…It’s the snacking for me and when I have a lump of cheese it’s a proper lump not just a thin slice.”

Buck’s Fizz singer Cheryl Baker has always felt fat. “I’ve always been the big girl in Bucks Fizz. There was this advert years ago “can you pinch an inch?” I can pinch loads. I can pinch yards and I hate it.” Dietician Dr Catherine Collins reveals that Cheryl would be in the healthier range if she lost 10 centimetres off her waist.

Celebrity columnist Carole Malone says she’s been on “every diet known to man” but still measures in a borderline obese. “I can’t be hurtling towards retirement eating donuts or I won’t make it.”

Birds of A Feather star Linda Robson, who is classified as obese at 13 stone 11 pounds, explains her attitude towards food. “I wake up in the morning and I’m worried about what I’m having for a lunch and then as I am having lunch I’m worried about dinner that night.”

“I feel heavy…I feel sluggish. I just want to feel a bit lighter and feel a bit healthier.

And finally presenter Jonathan Maitland, who admits to a big dessert and cake problem, is weighed and measured. Catherine gives him the bad news. “This shows that you have 50 per cent more body fat than you should have and it’s concentrated around your middle. You’re about 16 stone 2 and you’re technically obese and because you’re obese you’re at risk of heart disease and stroke and some cancers and definitely increased risk of diabetes.”

Gathered at a last supper of their favourite foods, each celebrity is handed an envelope revealing their mystery destination.

Linda likes her traditional British roast dinner so how will she cope with eating raw fish in Japan? Carole will be flying to LA to put the rigorous low carb diet to the test. Cheryl Baker, an enthusiastic carnivore, will follow a vegetarian diet from Kerala, in southern India. Darren, who hates pasta and coffee, picks Abruzzo, Italy, the birthplace of the Mediterranean diet. And Jonathan will hark back to more traditional fare from post-war Britain, cutting out the snacks and processed foods and slashing his portion sizes.

In this first episode, we follow Darren and Cheryl as they travel to Italy and India respectively.

Authentic Italian cuisine is very different from the frozen pizzas and bottled pasta sauces eaten in the UK. Italians eat 50 per cent more fresh fruit and vegetables than we do.

“Not only that but you’re using healthy oils like the monounsaturated olive oil or rape seed oil, you’ve got herbs and spices. But particularly, you are including oily fish. And that’s particularly important because the oils in oily fish are good to help stabilise heart rhythm, help protect you against heart disease,” says dietician Dr Catherine Collins.

Darren has never been to Italy before and as someone who never cooks, knows very little about ingredients. But he’s going to get some expert instruction from Aldo Zilli, one of Britain’s best-known Italian chefs who also runs a cookery school in Abruzzo. Darren gets a lesson in pasta-making and later must do the shopping on his own at a local market.

“Everything is healthy, you only have to look at their shopping list, what their weekly shop is, consists of lean meat, and fish, lots of vegetables. I’ve never seen so many vegetables on a weekly shop,” he marvels.

Darren is convinced that he will easily be able to stick to the Mediterranean diet for next five weeks when he returns to the UK.

But will Cheryl be as confident? The singer arrives in Kerala to sweltering temperatures and the supreme challenge of identifying and cooking with a completely new array of vegetables and spices.

In the UK, Cheryl’s default setting curry-wise, is chicken Tikka Masala but here food is done very differently. Eating involves a variety of tastes, small portions, a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, starches and vegetables.

Nutritionist Amanda Ursell says: “They only have 2 per cent obesity rates in Kerala which is extraordinarily low. This way of eating, because it’s low in fat and low in calories, is probably why they are so much healthier than we are in Britain. In Kerala, some of the spices like tumeric for example have been linked with their compounds actually helping to reduce the risk of cancer.”

The food is all cooked in coconut oil, which is cholesterol-free and boosts metabolism. The dishes are served on plantain leaves and as Cheryl soon finds out at a meal with Indian nutritionist Dr Smitha, eaten with the hands.

“I’m not getting the hang of it at all,” she laughs, trying to scoop up rice and curry with her fingers. “Oh, give me a fork; I’m struggling without a fork.”

On the table is a glass of hot vegetable soup – made from lentil and plenty of garlic. Dr Smitha says that it improves digestion and appetite and has the added bonus of relieving flatulence.

“You have obviously heard of my condition,” says a blushing Cheryl.

The singer explains her “condition” in a video diary entry back at the hotel. “When I arrived, I unpacked my case. This was hidden in my case,” she says holding up a picture of her family. “If you look at the message it says, ‘leave the gas in India.’ So from that you can gather that I have a bit of a problem and I do. And eating curry for a week probably isn’t going to help. But I’ll give it my best shot and see what the outcome is.”

Meanwhile back in the UK, presenter Jonathan Maitland is getting his head around how he can possibly lose weight by eating fish and chips or toad in the hole.

Top chef Ed Baines, who will be shepherding Jonny through his six-week test, explains: “The key to this diet is you must not snack because your body after about two weeks is going to get used to having three meals a day.”

Post-war, Britons limited their eating to three meals a day. Very little was processed, even less contained salt or sugar. Now it’s estimated that in the UK we eat more than half of all the crisps, crackers and nuts consumed throughout Europe each year.

Over the week, Ed gives Jonny a lesson on how to make a Lancashire hotpot using lamb and lamb kidneys and cuts Jonny’s “gluttonous” portions down to size.

Jonny also joins the butchers of Hampshire on the hunt for his rabbit dinner – a healthy white meat that has few calories than chicken…and is lower in fat and cholesterol.

“I can’t believe it. This morning, what I’m eating was running around with a fur coat and gloves on. Cor, it don’t get more British than this, does it? There’s a whole new world of cuisine that I’m discovering and the irony is, it’s under my nose.”

All three of our dieters are really enjoying their “exotic” food experiences.

And Cheryl has fallen in love with the vibrant colours and relaxed lifestyle of Kerala.

She says: “This has been quite an eye-opener India and I love their way of life, their frame of mind I think we rush about too much in the UK and here they eat slower, have time for each other, — and we should take a leaf out of their book and just sit back and enjoy our life a bit more rather than rushing and tearing around all the time.”

But perseverance is key in a six-week challenge. Can they incorporate these new diets and cultural attitudes into their everyday lives for five weeks when they return in the UK? The programme follows Cheryl, Darren and Jonathan as they try to replicate their new cooking skills for friends and family, avoid the temptation of alcohol and junk food at the various work functions, personal appearances and parties that are part of their celebrity lifestyle.

How much weight will they lose and will their new diets have any impact on their overall health?

Monday, 22 June 2009, 10:35PM – 11:05PM

Freegan Alf and material girl Lianne have little in common apart from both being single. Alf tries to live without spending any money and forages for food out of supermarket bins whilst ex- adult film star Lianne likes the finest things in life and only dates millionaires. This unlikely couple have agreed to spend four days dating to see if they can find any common ground. Is it an impossible match or can opposites attract?

Monday, 22 June 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

In 1992, young mum Rachel Nickell was murdered on Wimbledon Common in a crime that shocked the nation. Rachel was killed in broad daylight in front of her two year old son, the only witness to what would become one of the country’s most notorious murders.

This is the story of how it took 16 years to convict her killer, after an innocent man wrongly suspected of the crime was persecuted. It took a revolution in DNA technology for the police eventually to bring her real killer, Robert Napper, to justice.

Speaking for the first time since Napper was sentenced, Rachel’s partner Andre Hanscombe reveals how he has dedicated the last 17 years to rebuilding his and his son’s lives and how the toddler who witnessed the violent murder of his mother has grown into a young man.

The documentary features interviews with the police officers who reveal their recollections of the lengthy process to bring Rachel’s killer to justice, and presenter Mark Austin speaks to the criminal profiler involved in the controversy about the Nickell team’s focus on the wrong man.

Real Crime: Rachel Nickell also includes an interview with Colin Stagg, the innocent man officers investigating the case were convinced was the culprit, even after a judge threw out their case against him, which was built on an elaborate, ‘honey trap’ sting police operation.

And criminal experts and a childhood schoolmate provide a chilling insight into the background of Robert Napper, the man who was finally convicted of the murder.

Speaking to presenter Mark Austin, Rachel’s partner Andre admits that he struggled to come to terms with what life would be like for him and Alex without Rachel.

As his young son was the only witness, and with no obvious clues to the killer at the murder scene, Andre and police faced the difficult task of gleaning as much information as they could from the toddler in order to help police catch the killer

He says: “[The police] made it very clear to me right there and then that any information that Alex had would be absolutely crucial to them because they had virtually nothing to go on.”

When a description from Alex started a massive manhunt for Rachel’s killer, detectives working on a series of attacks in South East London which took place around the same time as Rachel’s murder recognised similarities with Rachel’s murder. The victims were invariably women with their children and were attacked while walking along a series of footpaths known as the Green Chain Walk. But the detectives on the Nickell case pursued a different line of enquiry and enlisted the help of criminal profiler Paul Britton.

Along with Britton’s profile, the police had an artist’s impression of the man they believed to have killed Rachel. When this was issued in a police appeal, four people phoned in suggesting the same name – Colin Stagg. Using an attractive undercover policewoman, who built up a relationship with Stagg, the police tried to elicit a confession and gather any incriminating evidence from him.

Paul Britton claims that he wasn’t looking for specific answers from Stagg; “My comment to the Police and the Crown, the QCs and others was that even if your suspect Colin Stagg goes all the way through this and at every step of the way meets every criteria that I have suggested would be present in the killer but not present in someone who isn’t the killer. If every single one of those is met that doesn’t make him a murderer.”

Despite this, the police were convinced that Stagg was Rachel’s murderer and made the decision to arrest him.

Speaking to the programme, Stagg now says “I just felt like I was being set up… there was not one scrap of evidence linking me to this crime or any crime because I hadn’t done anything.”

Stagg was charged with the murder and Rachel’s partner Andre, now living in France, recalls how he felt on hearing the news. “Relief that this was going to come to some kind of conclusion much earlier than many people had led me to believe. Confusion and bewilderment as well, because obviously it’s another whole process to try and absorb.”

While Stagg was awaiting trial at Wandsworth prison, Rachel’s real attacker murdered another young mother, Samantha Bissett and her four year old daughter in their home. Samantha was stabbed to death before being mutilated, while her daughter Jazmine had been sexually assaulted and smothered.

This latest murder meant there were three separate teams within the Metropolitan Police investigating the crimes of the same man: officers working on the Green Chain rapes, Rachel Nickel’s murder, and the murder of Samantha and Jazmine Bissett.

Detective Superintendent Mickey Banks on the Samantha Bissett enquiry wondered if her and her daughter’s killer and the Green Chain rapist might be the same man. He enlisted the help of criminal profiler Paul Britton, who had worked on both the Green Chain rapes and the Rachel Nickel investigation.

Banks linked up with officers on the Rachel Nickell team but says: “There was no way that you could persuade…the person in charge of that enquiry that anybody but Stagg had done their murder. There was a total blank on it. They had other evidence I wasn’t, I wasn’t privy to.….But they, you know, Paul Britton was convinced that Stagg was their murderer.”

The programme focuses on the role of Britton, who was criticised by Mr Justice Ognell for “pulling the strings… This operation was sustained in constant consultation with the psychologist, the police woman was acting under orders and the police in their turn were being guided by the psychologist.”

It features officers working on the Green Chain and Bissett cases claiming that he insisted Stagg was responsible for the Nickell murder and that it was not linked to the other crimes.

But when faced with these claims and criticisms, Britton tells Mark Austin that he always believed there was a link, but was felt compelled to bow to police pressure from senior officers convinced of Stagg’s guilt.

He says: “My view was that of course these are linked. And the view that was given to me was that…if I felt that my experience in these matters… was superior to that of the Metropolitan Police …and I took a view that was contrary to their crime analysts then it would be arrogant of me, and that they simply weren’t linked, it was as simple as that. And I had to accept that.

But Mickey Banks got the breakthrough he needed on Samantha’s murder. The police had been able to recover a fingerprint from Samantha’s flat, and when they checked their system, they found a possible match – Robert Napper. He was charged with murder and the attacks on the Green Chain walk.

Meanwhile Colin Stagg was released in September 1994 after the case against him was thrown out of court. It seemed that the identity of Rachel’s killer would never be known, until in 2004, scientific advances meant that police were able to recover DNA from evidence gathered from Rachel’s body 12 years earlier.

“We compared those components with a list of the profiles from the top 40 suspects and in going through we eliminated 39 of them including Colin Stagg. But the one person that they all matched was Robert Napper,” explains Roy Green from LGC Forensics.

Napper pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was ordered to be detained indefinitely at Broadmoor top security hospital, where he’s been since 1995.

Napper had a troubled childhood in South East London. Professor Laurence Allison says: “[A] feature that is common in these sort of very violent men is that an early age and certainly pre puberty they’ve been assaulted by someone that’s very close to them. And in Knapper’s case we don’t know who it was but there are some indications that this person was someone that he trusted.”

Colin Stagg received an apology from the Metropolitan police, and has since received £700,000 in compensation.

Andre has dedicated the last 17 years to rebuilding his and his son’s lives and, in an emotional interview, says his son is his greatest achievement.

Sunday, 21 June 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

Peter is working late when a brick comes through the window, announcing the arrival of the latest member of the Kingdom family – a guinea pig who turns out to have been liberated from the local medical research facility. Meanwhile, family tensions are running high for Nicky (Jaye Griffiths), a technician from the lab, and her highly principled teenage daughter, Donna, who’s taken up the hobby of breaking into the lab to sabotage her mother’s work. This leaves Nicky with the choice between career and daughter, but it’s much more complicated than it appears to be.

Beatrice’s school fees fund for Petra is now being supplemented by some rather convenient work from home – she’s unashamedly running a sex line, much to the embarrassment of all who grace the office and overhear her candid phone conversations.

Nigel, in his new role as a relationship counsellor, is presented with an odd challenge. A group of nuns are being forced to abandon their ramshackle convent and want help coping with the split. Nigel turns to Lyle, who seeks to relocate the nuns, whilst also trying to save their convent from the developers. The only residence he can find for them is the rooms above the Startled Duck – which alarms Ted at first, but their work ethic soon pleases him. After a near-death experience, Lyle is spiritually galvanised to help the nuns, whatever the risk.

As he battles the unscrupulous developer, the nuns settle in to the pub, and by the time Lyle saves the day, they’ve adjusted to life outside their convent and decided that God’s will is that they leave the convent – having secured a whopping great price for it from the developer.

Meanwhile the relationship between the lab technician and her daughter is breaking down even further. Donna wants her mother fired from the lab, and doesn’t mind breaking the law to achieve this. Nicky wants to spend every waking moment working, because the rare genetic disorder she’s researching killed her husband and, we eventually discover, has been passed down to her daughter. The ultimate choice is: does she work every minute she has trying to save her daughter, or does she spend every minute she can with her daughter, knowing her days are numbered? A complex legal and moral case, Peter does his best to steer the protagonists undamaged into open waters.

Beatrice’s sex line is slowly going beyond a joke and she herself suddenly crashes down to earth when she recognises the voice of one of her clients… and it’s none other than Petra’s father. She’s outraged! What on earth is he doing calling sex lines? Time to spill the beans about the identity of Petra’s father which she has so far kept secret.

Sunday, 21 June 2009, 7:00PM – 8:00PM

Susie (Sarah Beck Mather) and Carnegie’s (Robert Cavanah) relationship is the talk of the hospital. Marian (Kari Corbett) is stunned when she discovers Susie didn’t sleep in her bed last night and wastes no time in filling in Lizzie (Michelle Hardwick). Meanwhile, Jack (Gareth Hale) is shocked when he spots Susie and Carnegie kissing in the back of Carnegie’s steamed up Jaguar!

Elsewhere, Rose (Denis Lill) is enjoying a round of golf with his old friend Bill Parmitter (Roger Butcher) when Bill collapses. Rose examines him on the green and discovers he has a hernia and suggests he come into The Royal for a quick operation later that day.

Dr Burnett (Damien O’Hare) gets called out to see Judith (Sian Breckin) who’s eight months pregnant. She’s been renovating her house before the new arrival but she and her cat have fallen ill. Burnett suggests she come to hospital for rest and observation, he’s concerned she’s over-exerting herself. However, when they arrive at The Royal, Burnett receives a call informing him that Judith’s cat has died of lead poisoning caused by the old paint in the house. Have Judith and her baby also been poisoned?

In theatre, Rose and Ormerod (Robert Daws) are doing a routine operation on Bill Parmitter’s hernia but they’re stunned when he suddenly goes into cardiac arrest. The team fail to resuscitate Parmitter, despite Rose’s desperate attempts to bring his friend back to life. A distraught Rose is forced to break the news to Bill’s wife, who’s furious that Rose pushed him into an operation he wasn’t fit to have. Will Rose lose his job and his friend in one day?

Back on the ward the next day, Judith’s blood test results come back and confirm that she has lead poisoning. However, just as Burnett is about to tell her what long-term damage this could do to her baby she goes into premature labour. Will the baby survive? And if it does, will the lead poisoning affect its health?

Meanwhile, Ormerod and Bobby (Christopher Coghill) respond to an emergency call, a farmer is trapped under a combine harvester and his torso and legs are crushed. Bobby and Ormerod try and hold the machine off him until the fire brigade arrive, but they’re failing and the situation is desperate. With nothing to lose, Bobby tries lifting the combine with the hydraulic bale-lifter he spots on the field and eventually manages to free the critically injured farmer. He’s rushed to the hospital and Rose and Ormerod immediately begin surgery on his ruptured liver and spleen. After yesterday’s disaster, Rose has been doubting whether he’s still fit to do his job and is terrified about losing yet another patient.

Meanwhile, Marian’s hurt when Burnett dashes her hopes of a marriage proposal and merely asks her to move in with him. Does he see her as marriage material or just a casual fling?

Lizzie’s thrilled when Nev (Oliver Farnworth), the hippy builder, returns with a broken ankle. She devotes herself to taking care of him, and tries her hand at vegan cookery! Eventually Neville comes clean – his body’s a temple, but he’d do anything for fish and chips.

When Susie shows up for her shift late yet again and gives all the patients the wrong false teeth, Matron (Wendy Craig) decides to suspend her, claiming she‘s throwing away her career for a ridiculous affair. Susie’s stunned and protests that she can do what she wants in her private life. However, Matron refuses to listen and orders her niece out of the hospital. Will Susie leave The Royal for good?

Saturday, 20 June 2009, 7:30PM – 8:30PM

Tonight in the eighth show of the new series, actor John Thomson and wife Samantha, drum ‘n’ bass artist Goldie and partner Mika and actress Gaynor Faye and partner Mark Pickering will all compete for big cash prizes for a charity of their choice.

The show, will not only see hosts Phil and Fern question celebrities about their relationships, but will also get an insight into their home life as All Star Mr & Mrs takes a trip around the couple’s homes.

As each pair plays, one half will be sent off to a sound proofed booth whilst their other half will be quizzed on their relationship and life together. The other half of the couple will then return and be challenged to match their partner’s answers in a bid to win points.

After two rounds the couple with the most points will go on to play for big cash prize of £30,000 for a charity of their choice plus there will be a few more surprises along the way.

Viewers can join Phil and Fern in a celebration of relationships and will get a real insight into the world of celebrity couples as they reveal how similar, or different, they really are! Do even celebrities argue over leaving the toilet seat up, snoring, nagging, the remote control, being late and leaving wet towels on the floor?

Celebrities take time out from fame to play tricks on their fans and famous friends by donning cunning disguises in a new ITV1 show.

In Anonymous, presented by Stephen Mulhern, three celebrities will wear prosthetic disguises to carry out gags on unsuspecting members of the public.

Their new ‘characters’ will then perform an elaborate prank on one of their celebrity friends.

The one-off special, made by Tiger Aspect Productions, will see celebrities acting as they have never done so before.

A sporting legend transforms into a well to do theatre luvvie to stitch up his England team mate; a soap star goes on set of the drama she works on disguised as an Essex WAG to fool her cast mates; and a music mogul and talent show judge ages 20 years to fool his music acts.

Stephen Mulhern will take them through the transformation process and help them create their new identity in the one hour show. He will also guide them through the mischievous pranks every step of the way with the help of an earpiece and a microphone.

John Kaye Cooper, controller of entertainment for ITV, said: “It’s fascinating to see how some of our best known celebrities are rendered unrecognisable by their disguises and just how they are treated when they are anonymous.

“Fame counts for nothing if nobody knows who you are and this show provides great comedy moments and an insight into the lives of some of TV’s most famous faces.”

Anonymous was commissioned by controller of entertainment John Kaye Cooper for ITV1. The executive producers are Deborah Sargeant and Clive Tulloh and the series producer is Richard Cook.

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