IF nothing else, this programme serves up (ho ho ho) a lesson as to why viewing figures have dipped over the years.

When Delia started cooking on TV several decades ago the emphasis was on teaching people the basics rather than an exercise in giving the presenter carte blanche to show off.

Of course, there has already been Fanny Cradock and her long-suffering husband Johnny, then along came posho Delia to tell the nation how to boil an egg, and boy did we need to know.

Everyone’s mum had a Delia cookbook and they all made something previously unheard of out of it, using copious amounts of butter and sugar in a pre-worrying about your weight and health age, as well as using it as a cookery bible to conjure up flans and whatever else people ate in the ’60s and ’70s.

Stephen Fry provides some slightly sarcastic, though generally fond, narration of this series, which mostly consists of the 69-year-old Delia reflecting on her career, which she freely admits suffered some viewing-figure disasters.

This week’s highlight was Delia showing us not only how to cook pasta, but how to eat it. Fry said it was like teaching a cook how to suck eggs, but I wouldn’t have minded that advice years ago.

The first time I ate pasta was in a restaurant in Dublin and I couldn’t manage to wrap the long stringy stuff round my fork. Some busybody on the next table noticed this, started laughing at me and diverted his partner’s attention my way, thereby increasing my nervousness and embarrassment and causing me to eventually leave my meal.

If only my mother had got to the pasta section — featured here in Delia’s 1980s series How To Cook — before 1990 I would never have suffered such humiliation.

In our family, though, the introduction of pizza and lasagne in the late ’80s/early ’90s was greeted with massive suspicion. We were eating foreign food. My father led the way, bravely tucking into his lasagne before giving it the thumbs-up to signal that it was okay for my brother and I to follow suit. We would not be poisoned.

Out went the weekly shepherd’s pie and stew and dumplings and in came, well, just lasagne and pizza actually.

Mostly, we are pretty much au fait with all foods now as we’ve either cooked them, had them in a restaurant, eaten them in takeaway form or had a go at cooking them after buying the book of a celebrity chef’s TV series.

We’ve already had a 1960s mini-skirted Delia telling us some producers thought she wasn’t sexy enough to attract a large audience, and a somewhat porkier 1980s version introducing us to flambeing and appearing with Noel Edmonds on Swap Shop.

Next week, apparently, Delia introduces us to different foods for the summer and winter as, previous to the 1990s, a meal on a warm day simply meant a salad and a cold beer.

This is largely back-to-basics stuff but, in an age when presenting is more about forcing your whacky personality on the viewer rather than teaching the audience anything, that’s not a criticism.

Perhaps, with people eating more junk food than ever before, we all need some cooking lessons.