Saturday, 17 November 2018
Jamie Oliver interview on Jimmy & Jamie's Friday Night Feast
Jimmy & Jamie's Friday Night Feast starts Friday 7th December at 8pm on Channel 4
Tell us a bit about the new run of Jamie & Jimmy's Friday Night Feast…
It’s the sixth series and feels like it’s getting better and better as time goes on. People are getting creative in how they consume TV content - on Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, catch-up, in all sorts of weird, wonderful and dynamic ways - but I think actually many of them want regular, trusted programmes at certain times of the week. And on Friday evenings, it just fits. It’s a nice balance of cooking, celebrities and campaigning. It’s great to have that seven-minute soapbox campaign slot, rather than an hour-long documentary. The show has achieved amazing, important things because of a light-hearted little Friday night rant. And we genuinely work hard to make the audience happy.
Are the slots to be diners in the café still vastly over-subscribed?
It’s always a massive response. The series is just a joy to make: the right show at the right time. People have a little extra spring in their step on Fridays. They shop and cook differently at weekends, when it’s more about comfort good and indulgence. We celebrate food in the same way. Plus we’re getting amazing superstar guests.
You’ve got some fantastic guests this series, including Danny DeVito. How was he?
Hilarious. He’s a Hollywood legend and he came especially to see us - at the end of Southend Pier, two hours out of London, for a six-hour filming. That isn’t normal. On Jonathan Ross, you can get in and out in two hours, so our show is a major time commitment. But people come because they like what we do and they love food. Danny calls everyone baby - “hey baby, thanks baby”.
What do you cook for him?
You’re going to love Danny’s story. We go back to his roots in Basilicata, where his grandparents came from. He’s never been there himself but that particular part of southern Italy was tough and full of poverty, especially after the war. We get pictures in front of his grandparents’ old house with the town’s mayor. The mayor’s also the local baker and the deputy mayor makes olive oil and wine. Every morsel of food cooked in the café that day was from the town where his family comes from. We got a traditional pasta shape and recipe that his grandparents would definitely have cooked. We had archive pictures on the walls. He was genuinely moved. The mayor wrote him a letter saying the town was so proud of everything he’d achieved, how they always seen him as one of their own and giving him the keys to the city.
Harry Hill is another guest this series. How was he?
Brilliant. As funny and chaotic, as you’d expect. His story was an interesting one. He used to be a doctor, spent some time working out in India and talked about his memories of how good the hospital canteen food was. Our job was to try and relive that for him. So we found the hospital and one of the chefs from Harry’s time was still there. We got the actual recipes from him, then we recreated this thali, which is like a platter of different curries, with the bread that he remembered. On Southend Pier.
What about Stephen Fry?
He was on banging form. I don’t know how we’re going to edit that show because it was too funny. Utterly brilliant. We talked about everything from cake decorating to personal hygiene.
And Jodie Whittaker, aka the new Doctor Who?
She was wonderful. What you see is what you get with Jodie. She’s a grafter, she’s enthusiastic and she’s everything you want her to be. Just like Jessica Ennis, who’s also on this series. Gold standard. Our first Dame on the show. As a dad of girls, it’s amazing to have these extraordinary female role models on the show.
How’s your old mate Jimmy Doherty?
He’s so good. I’m so lucky to work with Jimmy. I’ve got the advantage of having grown up with him since the age of two, so I know him inside out, frontwards and backwards. Jimmy’s always got a few shows on the go and he does more days’ filming than anyone I know, so technically he’s on fire but still loads of fun and beautifully daft. He’s a farmer, a butcher and nobody on the planet travels to as many farms and food businesses around the world as he does. Combine that knowledge with my cooking and we’re a really good twosome.
Is he going to be your best man? Because you’re getting married again…
Yeah! Me and Jools are going to renew our vows to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We don’t get out much or have too many parties, so we thought we’d give it a go. She loves the idea and thinks it’s romantic. I think 20 years is a massive achievement. And if we get to 40 years, we’ll do it again.
What have you learnt in 20 years of marriage?
Bloody good question. To never hold grudges. Move on. And just hang about. Don’t go anywhere. It’s genuinely a wonderful thing and I’m so grateful to her. I couldn’t do what I do without her nailing all the kids and family stuff. We’re a good team. She keeps me on my toes, doesn’t take any shit, she’s kind, she’s funny… At some point in life, you have to go “I did good there. Lucked out and punched well above my weight.”