Banter has a bad press. The word has become shorthand for sexist, unsubtle, humourless chat, usually between men with fixed views on ‘the football’, or politics or women.
It’s really no surprise when you watch Gordon, Gino and Fred’s Road Trip (ITV, Thursdays, 9pm), in which three men clearly in the grip of midlife crisis attempt to outbanter each other while driving around Europe in a campervan.
Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Gino D’Acampo are joined by Fred, the bearded French bloke from First Dates, to drive around Italy, France and Scotland – their home countries – to sample food and show you the beauty of the scenery.
But you can’t see the scenery because, inexplicably, the director has chose to station three lumps of gurning alpha-maleness in front of it at all times, engaging in witless banter which ends in D’Acampo without his pants.
The three are types you would recognise from any classroom: the alpha-male who shows off by swearing a lot and punching people (Ramsay); the smaller one who laughs at everything the bigger one says and is his target (D’Acampo); and the one that laughs at everything and is tormented in later life that he never stood up to the bigger one (Fred).
The script probably read like this: Visit lemon orchard (ladder banter); go to Naples (driving banter); milk a buffalo (UDDER BANTER!!).
A better programme would have been made if they’d just stuck Ramsey in the Naples pizzeria where they enjoyed a lunch break – and where the potty-mouthed pan-wrangler made delicious-looking lemon curd pizza –and just let him cook, as that’s where he comes across like an actual person.
At least it’s only three episodes, as this much banter should be banned.
Wanderlust (BBC1, Tuesdays, 9pm) ended this week. It didn’t have explosions, or gun battles or Jodie Comer in a pink tutu, it was just grown-up, tender, heartfelt drama. If you stuck with it, it repaid your faith.
You may have missed it, but Doctor Who (BBC1, Sundays) returned, and it was like seeing an old friend. It had dropped much of the po-facedness of later series, and Jodie Whitaker was terrific.