CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Crispy Pancakes and Angel Delight for supper

Findus Crispy Pancakes and Angel Delight make a tasty TV supper: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV

The 1970s Supermarket


The Bold Type 


Whether Florence ever came home, we will never know. But the 1973 advert that launched Findus Crispy Pancakes was a heartbreaking mini epic, a novel crammed into 30 seconds.

‘My wife left me last week,’ announces a bloke with Gene Hunt sideburns as he’s laying the dinner table. How’s that for an opening line? He warns his four children to behave themselves and adds, ‘Bored stiff, she said she was.’

It’s not his conversation or his lack of adventure in the bedroom that drove her away, but their dull diet. So he’s trying something new, by frying packet-ready pancakes with steak-and-kidney filling.

‘If you’re out there, Florence, come home,’ he pleads. ‘It’s more fun now.’ And the jingle chimes up, assuring us that, ‘Every day is pancake day’.

This promo, remembered on The 1970s Supermarket (Ch5), was a masterpiece of subliminal information. Not only did the children think these pancakes were delicious, but they made a meal so easy to cook, even a man could manage. Every element of the ad was cunningly designed to appeal to housewives… and there wasn’t even a woman on screen. Genius!

Rustie Lee recreates a crispy pancake on Serets of the 70s Supermarket episode 1 (Ch5)

Narrated by actress Debbie Chazen, this jaunty three-part documentary lured us in by pretending to snigger at the food of 50 years ago, and then revealed how clever it all was — the marketing, the flavours and the production lines.

Chef Rustie Lee had a go at recreating crispy pancakes in the kitchen, with a modicum of success, but her version of Spam fritters was a failure. Once a speciality of school dinner ladies everywhere, it appears the recipe has been lost in time. If Rustie plans to keep trying, she will need to use a lot more batter.

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The Lovely Debbie McGee told us that hubby Paul Daniels was partial to a Pot Noodle, while she preferred boil-in-the-bag cod with parsley… and both of them were addicted to Angel Delight.

She might have been less keen if she had seen the powdered cochineal beetles that gave strawberry Angel Delight its neon pink colouring, or the emulsifier that made it taste creamy by trapping bubbles of air in a coating of grease. Now that’s magic!

Deny it though they do, the editorial juniors on New York women’s magazine Scarlet are stuck in the sex wars of the 1970s in The Bold Type (BBC3).

This glossy office drama, with unashamed overtones of Meghan Markle’s law-firm soap Suits, pays lip service to current attitudes about gender and sexuality. But its real concerns are deeply old-fashioned: should a secretary ever sleep with an executive, and is it ever wrong to stalk an ex-boyfriend?

The show, which first aired in the U.S. in 2017, stars Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee and Meghann Fahy as ambitious young millennials. They’re trying to deal with the sheer unfairness of having less exciting jobs than their older colleagues, who aren’t nearly as good-looking or idealistic.

The Bold Type stars Aisha Dee as Kat Edison, Katie Stevens as Jane Sloan, Meghann Fahy as Sutton Brady

Gradually, the girls come to understand that office ancients, some of them so elderly that they’re actually in their 40s, exist for a purpose. This purpose is to smile wisely and pass on their experience to the juniors.

Their editor, Jacqueline (Melora Hardin), has the psychic ability to sense their presence with her back turned, and can materialise like a fairy godmother when there’s advice to be dispensed. The Bold Type is the kind of drama where women dance wildly on railway platforms to show that they’re happy, even when there isn’t any music. They close their eyes, smile ecstatically and wave their arms over their heads.

This happens a lot in adverts too, I’ve noticed. Perhaps it’s a side effect of crispy pancakes.

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