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  • Writer's pictureTanya Louise



Food scientists have delved into which TV show genres pair best with the nation’s favourite takeaways.

And the research found comedy works best with sushi, because laughing releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, which work alongside endorphin inducing amino acids, found in raw fish and rice. I'm not a fan of sushi, but each to their own.

Freeview, the UK’s biggest free TV service, enlisted leading nutritionist Rob Hobson to give his top TV and takeaway pairings.

He advised that those who enjoy a crime thriller should be ordering an Indian takeaway, due to the anti-inflammatory spices, which help your stomach deal with anxiety, as well as supporting healthy blood pressure so your heart can cope with stressful scenes.

Food scientist and author Hobson said: “Watching TV is a multi-sensory experience in the same way as tucking into a good plate of food.

“Research has shown that certain nutrients can help to support your mood so I have linked your favourite takeaway with the type of TV you're watching so you can really amplify the viewing experience.”

According to Hobson, complex sci-fi shows work well with Chinese dishes like sesame chicken, egg fried rice, and salt and pepper tofu, containing omega 3 for focus, choline for memory and concentration, and vitamin B for brain health.

And lovers of romance should be ordering a spicy Mexican feast, high in zinc (important for testosterone production), and endorphin-stimulating chillies, which are a great choice to get hearts fluttering.

The study commissioned by Freeview found four in ten Brits (43 percent) agree some foods go better with different kinds of TV shows than others, so much so that 39 percent based their food choices on what they are going to watch.

According to the 2,000 polled, we order an average of THREE takeaways a month, with Friday (37 percent) the most popular night to order in.

Chinese (48 percent) is the nation’s favourite takeaway, followed by pizza (43 percent), fish and chips (35 percent) and Indian (29 percent).

It takes a total of 15 minutes to decide what food to order, with four in ten (44 percent) admitting that they often argue with friends or family over what to have.

Owen Jenkinson, Marketing Director at Freeview which commissioned the study said, “We all know that a good takeaway is one of life’s little pleasures, with the nation ordering three takeouts on average a month - and as most of us watch TV as we tuck in, we wanted to understand the science behind how the food we eat can enhance the viewing experience.

From sushi amplifying the comedic effect of the funniest TV shows to Mexican dishes getting hearts racing during romantic scenes, the research shows that food really can be tailored to whatever you’re watching.

With over 60,000 hours of content available to watch for free on Freeview Play and an enormous variety of cuisines to choose from, our TV + Takeaway guide makes it easier to decide how best to spend cosy nights in."

85 percent say they sit down and tuck into food in front of the telly, with over half (54 percent) admitting they do it every day.

One in four (25 percent) eat their dinner in front of the box more than once a week.

49 percent admit they get hungrier when they see a food scene in a film or TV show.

Research of 2,000 Britons was commissioned by Freeview and was conducted by Perspectus Global in October 2023.

TV and takeaway pairings - according to expert Rob Hobson

Freeview – the destination for the best free TV shows, movies, and boxsets – has paired with nutritionist Rob Hobson to reveal the best food and genre combos to heighten the TV watching experience.

  1. Romance and Mexican

The science

Eating foods thought to be aphrodisiacs can help you lean into the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from watching a romance. Mexican food – high in zinc (important for testosterone production), endorphin-stimulating chillies, and relaxing magnesium is a great choice to get hearts fluttering.

What to order

· Guacamole – avocado is high in magnesium, which plays a key role in mood regulation and relaxation.

· Ceviche – Made with fish/shellfish, high zinc levels are good for libido, while protein helps aid production of feel-good serotonin.

· Spicy tacos – Chillies stimulate the release of endorphins for more mood-boosting, while eating and sharing food with your hands can add to the romantic vibe.

What to watch

· You & Me on ITVX

· Love, Victor on BBC iPlayer

· Starstruck on BBC iPlayer

· The Bisexual on Channel 4

· The Confessions of Frannie Langton on ITVX

2. Comedy and sushi

The science

A good comedy can really boost your mood. When you laugh, your body releases endorphins – the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain that increase serotonin activity and lead to improved mood and reduced stress. The best foods to heighten that good feeling are those rich in the amino acid tryptophan, carbohydrates, and vitamin B6 – like sushi.

What to order

· Salmon maki – salmon contains tryptophan and vitamin B6, while the rice provides a source of carbohydrate to help with tryptophan uptake

· Edamame beans – a good source of tryptophan

· Beef tataki – a nutrient-rich dish containing B6 and tryptophan.

What to watch

· Ghosts on BBC iPlayer

· Abbott Elementary on Channel 4

· Changing Ends on ITVX

· Sneakerhead on UKTV Play

· Hullraisers on Channel 4

3. Crime and Indian

The science

Anti-inflammatory foods can help your stomach deal with the anxiety associated with a thrilling crime drama, as well as supporting healthy blood pressure so your ticker can cope with stressful scenes. Indian food, with plenty of stomach-settling spices and rich in potassium, is the perfect pairing for suspenseful shows.

What to order

· Aloo Gobi – potatoes and cauliflower contain lots of potassium, as well as anti-inflammatory cinnamon (garam masala).

· Plain rice – easy to digest for anxious stomachs, and a great accompaniment for stronger flavours.

· Daal – full of anti-inflammatory ginger, digestion-helping fennel seeds, and potassium-rich lentils, to quell nausea and maintain healthy blood pressure.

What to watch

· Love & Death on ITVX

· Screw on Channel 4

· Mrs Sidhu Investigates on UKTV Play

· Witness Number 3 on My5

4. Drama and Italian

The science

Drama shows are often on the longer side and involve complex storylines. Opting for fatigue fighting foods can help you concentrate on all the action. Italian food can help support energy levels with the polyphenols (antioxidants) found in olive oil, focus-boosting omega 3, and protein that keeps you fuller for longer.

What to order

· Pizza Napoli – Omega 3-rich anchovies and olive oil in the sauce and base could help you concentrate.

· Prosciutto and melon – a popular snack containing a good mixture of vitamins and protein to keep you full.

· Arancini – with rice, peas, and mozzarella, the combination of carbohydrates and protein helps to control blood sugar levels and stop you crashing mid-show.

What to watch

· Bad Behaviour on BBC iPlayer

· Time on BBC iPlayer

· Six Four on ITVX

· The Ex-Wife on My5

5. Sci-fi and Chinese

The science

Foods that help to improve cognition lend themselves to mind-bending subject matters. Chinese food is full of eggs and tofu, contains omega 3 for focus, choline for memory and concentration, and vitamin B for brain health.

What to order

· Sesame chicken – contains lots of B6, which is involved in cognitive function to keep you focussed, as well ensuring glucose goes to the brain.

· Egg-fried rice – eggs are nutritional powerhouses rich in choline. Choline is required for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and concentration.

· Salt and pepper tofu – another good source of choline, and a great vegan alternative to meat and fish dishes.

What to watch

· Doctor Who on BBC iPlayer

· Under the Dome on My5

· Humans on Channel 4

· We Are Not Alone on UKTV Play

· Ancient Aliens on Blaze



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