It isn’t everyday you get to place Delia Smith alongside a secret government assassin and a serial killer.
Equally, I’m not sure I’ve ever written an article before that includes references to organic food, celebrity chefs, casual sex, abuse and forensic science – but, here goes.
ITV’s new prime time drama series The Fixer has aired for the first time and I find myself a little disturbed and non-plussed.
I’m apparently expected to feel empathy with a main character who shot dead his aunt and uncle for the admittedly hideous abuse of his sister, is released early from a life sentence in order to become a secret hitman for the government and after a relatively small amount of soul-searching decides to go with the flow.
Along the way he reunites with his sister and is met with a very lukewarm response when he proclaims: “I did it for you” in reference to the killing of their aunt and uncle and he shares a flat with a fellow ex-con whose main preoccupation in life appears to be having sex with as many different nationalities as possible. Plus, he has a night in a hotel room with a woman he doesn’t realise is working for the same shadowy organisation and ends up nicking her money and bank card as she sleeps – he does manage a whispered and no doubt heartfelt “Sorry” before he heads off to the nearest cash point.
So far, so bad. I can find no reason to warm to The Fixer himself, or the people he works alongside, and end up having more sympathy for the assassination targets.
But, maybe, that is the point.
We are witnessing the rise of the anti-hero on our TVs once again.
Another ITV drama-cum-black comedy, Dexter, has also made its UK debut and is another series with a morally shaky premise.
This time our lovable hero is a forensic expert by day, solving crimes and helping put the bad people away, but by night he’s a serial killer.
Now if that isn’t the ultimate anti-hero material I don’t know what is.
Grissom on CSI and the eponymous lead of House are difficult characters to sympathise with, but they at least have redeeming qualities and engaging storylines. I’m not entirely sure Dexter, but particular The Fixer, can boast similar claims.
So where does the saintly Delia come into all this?
I might be mistaken, but Delia appears to be trying to reinvent herself and the mummsy chef I remember who flirted mildly with the male guests on Saturday morning kids TV so many years ago is now quite an opinionated and cantankerous sort.
(Hang on, Delia, isn’t saying “I don’t do organic” wading into the food politics debate with both feet?)
I had put her infamous, snarling, deeply unattractive “Come on! Let’s be ‘aving yer!” berating of fellow Norwich City fans at Carrow Road a while back down as a momentary glitch. A blip for a beacon of respectability and niceness.
But on watching her latest series on BBC, maybe the footie pitch screeching is more like the real Delia than we could ever have imagined?
Was it, in fact, our introduction to the anti-Delia?
In her latest series if she isn’t dismissing “fancy cooking” and those who peddle it rather ruthlessly, she is almost bullying members of the production crew into proclaiming how wonderful the dishes are that she is preparing for the cameras.
I was scared enough to nod in agreement and murmur my approval about her summer soup concoction even though I was safe in my own living room hundreds of miles from wherever Delia might have been at that particular moment in time.
For too long we’ve had saturation coverage of celebrities who are famous merely for being famous, ordinary folk who become stars for 15 seconds for some talent they possess – whether it is singing or shouting obscenities – or those who want to display their ignorance, greed and superficiality.
Not exactly the sort of role models you want your children copying.
But now we’re possibly seeing a new TV trend and in many respects the anti-hero is even more alarming and potentially damaging.
Soon we can probably expect Sir Trevor MacDonald to start slapping guests he doesn’t agree with on News At Ten, or Eric Knowles smashing a family heirloom to smithereens on The Antiques Roadshow because it is only worth a tenner.
Dexter, The Fixer and Delia Smith – a worrying new breed of anti-hero on a TV screen near you now.