Celebrity Chef Nick Nairn slams BBC kids TV show


CELEBRITY chef Nick Nairn has blasted a BBC kids TV show for promoting an “irresponsible” junk food diet.

The out-spoken chef, who recently campaigned on behalf of school dinner blogger Martha Payne, slated Cbeebies show Woolly & Tig, saying it created a “subliminal message” that eating unhealthy food was acceptable.

The TV show, by the Scottish team behind Balamory, features a three-year-old girl that lives on a diet of fish fingers with an occasional dollop of ketchup, but without a vegetable, grain or pulse in sight.

Parents have expressed concern over the television character's unhealthy eating habits


Taggart actor Colin McCredie stars with his real-life daughter Betsy in the show, which is aimed at the under-fives.

The 30-episode series follows Tig and her toy spider ‘Woolly’, as she deals with scary new experiences, from a first day at nursery to meeting a man sporting a beard.

But Scottish chef Nairn has branded the programme makers “irresponsible” after the lead character’s preference for junk means she eats fish fingers in many episodes of the show’s 30-part series.

Nairn, who has two children of his own, said he would be concerned about letting his children watch the popular TV show.

The 53-year-old said: “It gives me cause for concern because the programme is being shown to children who are at an impressionable age when it comes to eating habits and this programme is creating a subliminal message that unhealthy foods are OK to eat.

“I actually think it is a wasted opportunity for the makers of the programme, who could easily have put a healthy and balanced meal on the plate for the girl to eat.

“I have no idea what the programme makers were thinking.

“As a public service broadcaster I think that the BBC has a responsibility to encourage good healthy eating practises.

“Fish fingers can be OK as part of a healthy and balanced diet, but they have to be accompanied by the right amount of carbohydrates and vegetables.

“I have worked with my own children from a young age to ensure they have a healthy diet and it would worry me if they were younger and watched the programme.”

Nairn, who became the youngest Scottish chef to win a Michelin star in the early 1990s, added: “The Government works really hard to promote healthy eating with children, and the food that appears on this programme does concern me. I think that the programme makers should have put more consideration into these issues.

“It certainly doesn’t help parents who are trying to help their kids to have a healthy diet.

“Just put some green stuff on the plate,” he added.


Parents want to see healthier food options promoted on the TV show


Debbie Ballantyne, Development Officer at North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, a community health project which aims to improve awareness of healthy eating in Glasgow, said it was “irresponsible” of the BBC.

She said: “It is irresponsible of the BBC as a lot of children will be watching it, all the time. I definitely think there should be vegetables offered on the plate at the same time as the fish fingers.

“We actually do a lot of work with under-fives to encourage them to grow and eat vegetables. Even if the girl was given a simple vegetable like carrots or peas, not every child has heard of sweet potatoes, but having a healthy vegetable alongside the fish fingers would certainly be welcome.”

Margaret Parkinson, (29), from Edinburgh, has a son Jamie, (6), and daughter Jennifer, (2). She feels Woolly and Tig does not present a healthy eating message for youngsters.

She said: “Some children are fussy with what they eat, but I think it is always important to offer a child healthy food at mealtimes. I think it is strange that Woolly & Tig would just give the girl fish fingers to eat as this does not properly represent a balanced lunch or dinner.

“My son has autism and there are certain foods that he will not eat. He does not like to eat anything that has touched other foodstuff, but I still make sure I offer him a bowl of peas, or another vegetable alongside the rest of his meal.”

Helen Doherty, Producer at Tattie Moon, the company behind Woolly and Tig, said she would discuss the diet habits of Tig before producing the next series of the show.

She said: “The show is not about what the character eats, it is about how she deals with her anxieties and feelings, but it is an interesting point that has been raised.

“It is good feedback to have and I will certainly discuss it with our writer, as we are currently developing a second, 15-episode, series of the show.”

Brian Jameson, creator of Balamory and Woolly & Tig added: “I welcome the comments made by Mr Nairn but I would certainly challenge him on them. For one thing, at least she doesn’t eat foie gras – like Nick Nairn sells in his restaurants.

“This is a programme that examines children’s feelings and not their eating habits. Ok fish fingers are her favourite food, but she is a little girl of three-years-old and we have to be realistic. In one episode she is away from her mum, and in that situation you wouldn’t give a child something they were not used to eating.

“We do understand about promoting a healthy lifestyle and in one episode she is in a supermarket buying fresh food and vegetables. She never eats cakes or anything like that.

“That said, we are working on the second series at the moment, and we will make sure that we pile on the greens.”


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  1. Seems like a lot of jealousy cooking!!!

    Yes get some greens but I could relate to her eating only fish fingers because this is a reality type of show, and thats what makes it a winner.

  2. all my daughter eats is fishfingers! we watch woolly n tig together most mornings and i havent even noticed that all she eats is fish fingers! i dont see the problem with it if thats that a child likes to eat. like the bbc says, its not what the show is about. the show is fab!

  3. My daughter loves Woolly and Tig and hasn’t noticed that she apparently only eats fishfingers. I would like to point out that there is an episode where Tig and her Mum and Dad go to a restaurant for her Dads birthday and Tig doesn’t want to try something new – Woolly then persuades her that its good to try new foods – this episode has been brilliant for my daughter, she now tries all sorts of new food because of Woolly 🙂

  4. How stupid do you think our children are exactly? none of this impressionable rubbish was mentioned when I was a child and T.V programs were never responsible for what children ate. As parents I think we are quite capable of bringing our children up on a healthy diet without the aid of a T.V program, my mother certainly managed fine lol! Further to what Abi said I never picked up on the fish fingers thing either until it was pointed out! Guess what… it’s my daughters favourite program, she goes everywhere with a teddy called woolly now and she still eats all her veg… AMAZING! #clearlynotasimpressionableandstupidasyouthink!

  5. What a load of rubbish! If this chef’s children are too old to watch it, then why is he?! Like the creator said, this prog is about dealing with emotions. Maybe the chef should address his before he throws a wobbly over something SO insignificant. There are plenty of healthy messages regarding food on CBeebies & in all other forms of media. It is the parent’s job to educate. Let’s try not to encourage the nanny state for the next generation!

  6. Nick Nairn Looking for some publicity by any chance?? What a totally bizzare & nonsense thing to make an issue of!
    I think it’s a great programme- I watch it with my 3 year old most mornings- we never focus on what Tig is eating but whatever issue she is dealing with in that particular episode. It has actually helped my little one with lots of different situations & I actually think it would be a bit fake if Tig was purposely shown eating loads of vegetables as its just not realistic!

  7. I think he’s got a good point. He hasn’t said it needs to e an unrealistic amount of veg, just ‘some’. He didn’t come accross as irrational, or angry – he just highligted that the meals the main character are shown eating were of poor nutritional value.

    Surely all meals are accompanied by at least one portion of vegetables? That doesn’t make it fake – just normal and healthy.
    If it’s not the norm, why not?!
    I’m not trying to argue that these scenes can damage a child, or stop parents feeding their children properly, but it does give a pervading sense of a normality that isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the reality for most families.

  8. My 2 yr old son has watched every episode over and over, and he loves his veg!! He should take a look back at some of the “meals” he’s cooked on Ready Steady Cook!! I would not even give them a dog, and certainly not my own dog for fear of food poisoning. Does Nick Nairn presume we are stuffing our kids with turkey twizzlers and gallons of ketchup?? Also if he doesn’t have a toddler why is he watching Wooly and Tig? I only stumbled upon this because I wanted a wooly spider for my son!!

  9. This sort of thing IS what the show is about. It’s perfectly set for Tig to have some veg put on her plate, turn her nose up at it, then for Woolly to come in and persuade her to have it in his usual reassuring manner. That should definitely be a future plot!

  10. I always include vegetables on my three year old daughter’s dinner plate, along with her chicken fingers, and mash. But she NEVER eats her veg, never has. Always ends up in the bin I’m afraid. So try being realistic, when making these demands that children should be given green stuff. If it was as easy as simply putting it on their plates, then us worn out parents would have nothing to worry about!!

  11. One episode of Woolley and Tig featured the family visiting a restuarant for the Daddy’s birthday treat! And Tig was shown being successfully encouraged by Woolley to eat spaghetti bolognese. So you see, it’s not all bad now is it???
    I would like to know the method(s) used by some parents (including these celebrity chefs) in which to get toddlers to eat their greens?

  12. Get a life Nick Nairn….how many 3 year olds eat loads of vegetables? Yes we all hope our kids will eat healthy food but force feeding them vegetables is only going to make them despise healthy food when they grow up! I feel sorry for his kwids as it sounds like a form of child abuse if they are being forced to eat certain things! I bet if the programme featured Nick Nairn and his kids there would be far more complaints about the way that they were forced to eat what he perceived to be appropriate for them.Woolly and Tig is the best programme on Cbeebies at the moment so well done to the production team and Colin and Betsy McCreadie..keep eating the fish fingers and maybe even throw in a few chicken nuggets just to make it even more realistic with what 3 year olds actually eat 😛

  13. Wooly & Tig is my 2 year old sons favourite show, and he even has his own toy Wooly.
    This chef can’t have children or these comments wouldn’t have been made, I’m lucky because my son Alfie eats pretty much everything that is put on his plate, but I wouldn’t say he’s influenced by what he sees on the show!

  14. I think I would respect this comment a lot more if it came from someone like Jamie Oliver who has really put in a lot of legwork regarding the issue of kids and healthy eating and not this celebrity chef who actually markets his own range of processed goods. I think Woolly would tell Tig that sometimes people say hurtful things without really thinking about what they mean.We might have to be strong and forgive the man about what he said and not take it to heart.
    For all we know the fish fingers are home made with organic ingredients and extra fibre and lots of omega three. Leave Woolly and Tig alone it’s an excellent show!

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