Mary Makes It Easy review: Mary Berry's a no-frills national treasure11/17/2023
Mary Makes It Easy review: Mary Berry’s a no-frills national treasure with recipes even I could manage, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS
Mary Makes It Easy
The King’s Guard: Serving the Crown
Amazing what you can cook up with just a few simple ingredients. Take one national treasure, add a born entertainer, stick them on the end of a pier in the sunshine, and presto! You’ve got a show.
No need for special effects — provided the budget covers a couple of deckchairs, you’re sorted.
This no-frills, cheerful approach extends to the recipes on Mary Makes It Easy (BBC2). Doyenne of baking Dame Mary Berry has pitched her tent on territory once held by Delia Smith. Nothing is left unexplained.
Mary’s kindly, slightly amused tone is perfect for explaining the obvious without making us feel too ignorant. She’s never condescending, as she shows us how to crack an egg carefully to separate the yolk from the white, and reminds us to cover a bubbling saucepan so it doesn’t spatter our clothes.
She exudes a grandmotherly competence, which makes the viewer feel cosily childlike. Her guest, Anton Du Beke, was aware of it: he couldn’t stop chattering about how excited his twins would be to see what he was learning.
Take one national treasure, add a born entertainer, stick them on the end of a pier in the sunshine, and presto! You’ve got a show
Mary’s kindly, slightly amused tone is perfect for explaining the obvious without making us feel too ignorant. She’s never condescending
She exudes a grandmotherly competence, which makes the viewer feel cosily childlike
The most straightforward of the recipes was escalopes: slice a chicken breast in two, flatten the meat, sprinkle it with salt, pepper, mustard and parsley, drizzle on some oil, and fry. Serve with Greek yoghurt and mint. I’m pretty sure I could manage that myself, and I’ve been known to set off the smoke alarms just making coffee.
Anton claimed to be equally hapless but he might have been playing up for the cameras. As a teenager, he said, he worked in a bakery. In fact, he’s been angling to work with Mary since her Bake Off days: ten years ago, he suggested, ‘I could teach her the foxtrot and she could help me improve my cupcakes.’
Naturally, the two of them did enjoy a spot of waltzing on the pier. ‘Shall we go for the big lift now?’ he teased her.
Creepy-crawlie of the night:
A make-it-yourself Colin the Caterpillar kit took an ugly turn, on Inside M&S (ITV1), when the icing on his face melted. ‘He looks like a slug,’ worried product developer Naomi. In fact, he looked more like that Munch painting, The Scream.
The seven regiments of the British Army’s Household Division were practising more complicated choreography as they prepared for the Coronation in the first episode of yet another military documentary, The King’s Guard: Serving The Crown (Ch5).
By the time the cameras caught up with them, most of the troops were so well drilled that they barely put a size 11 boot wrong. The horses, on the other hand, were more skittish. To ensure the noise and spectacle of the crowds didn’t panic them on the big day, they were given ‘desensitisation training’ at the indoor riding school in Hyde Park Barracks.
There wasn’t much to see: a few soldiers clapped and waved flags, and the horses trotted around an obstacle course. Outdoors, the regiments rehearsed their steps at an airfield where a mock-up of the route from palace to abbey was marked out with tyres and cones. Again, it made less-than-gripping television.
I was so sure the preparations must have been more interesting than this that I turned to The Guards Magazine, the division’s in-house journal. Sure enough, the ‘noises off’ training for the horses was really quite dramatic, involving drums, music and even rape alarms, in case of intervention by protesters.
In the event, most of the mounts were well behaved during the procession, except for one, aptly named Revolver, who went round in a circle.
And if you’ve ever wondered what the Royal Horse Guards were doing while the King was being crowned, the magazine reveals they were enjoying a snack, with a choice of baguettes.
At the 1953 Coronation, the Guards’ fare was less Continental: a sardine sandwich, a packet of crisps, a slice of cake and an apple. Three cheers!
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