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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 15:58 UK
Jamie Oliver defends new series
Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver praised the residents of Rotherham

Jamie Oliver has defended his new TV show after being criticised by residents in Rotherham.

The celebrity chef's series, Ministry Of Food, aims to make the town "the culinary capital of the UK" by teaching people how to learn to cook.

But he has been criticised for giving the area a bad name.

He said: "Some people in Rotherham think we're there making it look bad but if anything I came away thinking, 'What a great bunch of people'."

Jamie added: "They're straight talking no-nonsense and if people were upset with what I made then that would upset me more than anything.

"In the nine months I had there, I had a great time."

One councillor, John Gilding, said the show gave the impression all the town's residents lived on "doner kebabs".

But Jamie praised the local community and applauded them for taking an honest approach when he was filming his four part series.

"If you're filming in London people are so often insincere because they are taken over by the crews," he said.

"But in Rotherham they didn't care one bit for me or the crew and life continued as normal.

"From a documentary point of view it was amazing because you saw it as it was."

It's a way of inspiring people in the sense that if we get started on the problem now then our contribution will be massive
Jamie Oliver
He argued that the aim of the show was to inspire people to cook and pass their skills on.

"I realised that since most parents are working these days, we're not really learning key skills anymore," Jamie explained.

"So I thought, 'How can we learn to cook?'. I did some basic sums and if you're to teach four of your mates how to cook and get them to teach four of their mates how to cook, if that happened 13 times, that's the population of Great Britain.

"It's a way of inspiring people in the sense that if we get started on the problem now then our contribution will be massive. If we keep waiting for the government to come up with a solution, then that isn't going to happen."

The programme, which sees Jamie teaching eight families in Rotherham how to cook, goes out every Tuesday on Channel 4.

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