The premise of Sugar Free Farm had potential. Take six celebrities (albeit Z-list ones), place them on a traditional English working farm, deprive them of sugar for two weeks and teach them how to eat healthy. Trashy reality TV meets informative cooking show; two of our most loved programme formats rolled into one.
However, twenty minutes in, while watching ex-Brookside star Jennifer Ellison attempt to pick carrots and battle her way through a sugar crash, brought on by not having a can of coke in over twenty four hours, even my dissertation was starting to seem like an appealing alternative.
The show did manage to find a good mix of personalities to provide ample entertainment, including the lovable James ‘Arg’ Argent from The Only Way is Essex, who brought light-hearted laughs as he bumbled around the farm. As well as The Chase star Mark Labett, who stayed true to his on-screen persona, throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum over delayed meals and a lack of meat. But, even the cast’s amusing personalities couldn’t make being a farm hand a particularly interesting watch; Rory McGrath fertilising a field on a tractor travelling 2mph does not make for stimulating viewing.
What the show really fails to capitalise on, is the healthy diet itself. Everyday two celebs stay behind in the kitchen to cook up sugar-free concoctions, including healthy versions of pizza, chicken nuggets and sweet potato chips, pulled pork and lamb moussaka. All the dishes looked delicious, but the show was little use in informing us how to make them. Other than a couple of tips, like using homemade tomato ketchup rather than shop-bought bottles (we already know how much sugar is in Ketchup), and making pizza bases with wholemeal flour rather than plain, there was no explanation as to how these meals were actually made.
Nutritional expert Angelique Panagos stepped in every now and then to hammer home the risks of consuming too much sugar, and to try and reassure the celebrities that living a sugar-free lifestyle is achievable alongside their hectic (really?) schedules. But the show was severely lacking in any solid information that you could take away. It is as if the producers decided that actually showing us how to cook would be too complicated, so filling the show with clips of celebs running around fields covered in animal shit would be far more appropriate.
If you like Z-list celebrity drivel, then you’ll probably find this programme highly entertaining. But if you actually want to learn how to cook healthy sugar-free food, you’ll find no help here – my advice, go buy a recipe book.