Teas on knees: would we be happier if we stopped having TV dinners? – The Guardian

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The MasterChef presenter John Torode says he would never have his evening meal in front of the TV. But there can be unexpected benefits

Tue 23 Feb 2021 15.58 GMT

Name: Teas on knees.

AKA: Telly supper, TV dinner.

Age: Pretty much as old as television, and people realising that it’s more fun to eat in front of it than a table en famille.

We’re talking evening meal – tea/dinner/supper (delete according to class and location) – eaten not at a table, as people did in the olden days, but on the couch/settee/sofa (ditto) in front of the telly, right? Exactly.

And you’re suggesting my favourite programme, MasterChef, goes better with my spag bol than awkwardly asking a family member: “How was work today?” or: “What did you learn at school?” Or having a big row. Or, worse still, silence, save for the sad sound of cutlery on china followed by self-conscious mastication? Possibly. Interesting that you should choose MasterChef.

Why? Because John Torode doesn’t think so.

Doesn’t think what? The MasterChef co-host doesn’t approve of teas on knees.

You’d think, being Australian, he’d be more relaxed. Then you’d be wrong, as well as a cultural stereotypist. “We wouldn’t ever consume food in front of the television,” he said.

“We”? John and his wife, the actor Lisa Faulkner. “I don’t understand why people would want to sit with some food on their lap and dribble down their shirt and all over a clean sofa,” he continued. “A sofa’s for sitting on, and enjoying, and relaxing. Not for eating.”

A clean sofa?! Yeah, John’s not been round ours, either. But that’s one of the benefits of teas on knees; if you’ve got nothing in, or you get the munchies, you can usually find a few crisps down the back of the cushions.

I bet Gregg Wallace has his teas on his knees. No! “When I come home, I’ve got a family around the table with a bottle of wine,” he has said. “It would be really lonely now without them.”

I feel like I have dinner with Wallace every night – never off the telly, is he, inside a factory or shouting at Spanish people on his Big Weekends Away? He just likes the JAMÓN IBÉRICO, OK?

I’m getting a headache just thinking about it. Aren’t they shooting themselves in the foot, TV presenters banning TV? They’re not banning it, they just don’t want you to watch them while you’re eating your dinner.

What time is MasterChef on? Are you my dad? Haven’t you heard? You can watch telly when you like these days. But, if you are my dad, the first episode of the new series goes out on Monday at 9pm, after which they’re at 8pm.

Too late for tea, then. Well, that depends on your working day, culture etc. In Spain, 8pm is round about lunchtime.

Do say: “I never watch Gregg Wallace while I’m eating.”

Don’t say: “Thanks to all these TV dinners, my sofa’s got a lovely buttery biscuit base.”

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