By FRANCES GRANT
She has dubbed herself a "domestic goddess" and, let's make it clear, intends it ironically. Her show is part cookery, part household tips for the busy working person and part confessional.
Move over Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott and Delia Smith. Nigella Lawson is the "It girl" of British telly cookery. Her second television show, Nigella Bites, starts here tonight.
So what is it about Nigella Lawson that British audiences - of both her television shows and her books - find so divine?
It surely can't be the food, at least not judging by tonight's opening episode. Called Fast Food, it comes across as comfort food in a minute, with some distinctly British twists.
The dishes - lemon linguine, salmon and mushy peas, tomato rice soup, grilled chicken breast and couscous, chocolate fudge pudding - are not particularly stunning and her kitchen routine, in this episode at least, appears rather harried and joyless.
So why are the British drooling over her? Let us count the ways.
She's a superwoman: She has an Oxford degree in modern languages, is a journalist, social affairs columnist (for the Times) and makeup columnist (the Observer), food writer, mother and wife, now celebrity widow. And she still finds time to cook dinner.
Expect tonight's show to be interspersed with plenty of scenes of Lawson dropping the kids off to daycare and hard at work at one of her absolutely fabulous jobs as food editor of Vogue.
She's well-connected and rich: She is the daughter of an heiress and former (Tory) Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, the kind of man, obviously, who sees fit to give his daughter a feminine version of his own name.
For the record, her siblings were called Thomasina, Horatia and Dominic. Dominic is the editor of the Sunday Telegraph.
She's aspirational: While Nigella often pretends to be slumming it around the kitchen, sticking her fingers in the food and doing her own dishes, she has a distinctly plummy accent, a terribly tony London domicile and her two children are called Cosima and Bruno.
She inspires sympathy: Her husband, well-known journalist, broadcaster and author John Diamond, died of throat cancer this year. He documented his illness in an extremely candid and poignant series of columns in the Times.
Her mother and sister Thomasina have also died of cancer, prompting Lawson to describe herself as "Typhoid Mary" after the woman who was immune to the disease but gave it to everyone she met.
She maintains a stiff upper lip: Despite her misfortunes, Lawson bravely soldiers on, deriding press reaction to her husband's death as "nauseatingly sentimental".
"Seeing people die young has made me realise you don't spend time moping," she told the Radio Times.
She's got sex appeal: In a survey she was voted the "third-most beautiful woman in the world, behind Catherine Zeta Jones and one of The Corrs". Internet admirers talk enthusiastically of her beauty, her figure and the pleasure of watching her put food in her mouth - an attitude encouraged by her publicity shots.
She's got transsexual appeal: Her husband, says Lawson, once said she was a "gay man trapped in a woman's body" and she is keen to emphasise there is a camp side to her character, although it's terribly subtle by Hero Parade standards.
This extract from a review of her own book in the Guardian is possibly an example of her camp sense of humour: "I know that many of you may not have time for the table-laden breakfast, but even the sluttiest person can whip up muffins for 12. Just make the nanny get up at 5.30 am ... get that nice little barman I once met in Hong Kong to make you a few Bloody Marys to wash it all down."
She's self-deprecating: She claims to be frightfully embarrassed by the beauty survey. "Oh God, what about my eye bags?" she lamented in an interview in the Guardian. "When we went on holiday, the woman who owned the villa we rented said, 'But I was told you were beautiful.' It must be the worry."
She has an unashamed appetite: She claims to love her food and to be inspired by sheer greed. To prove the point, she is filmed raiding the fridge for a midnight snack, and other highly contrived moments. She still will equal only about a third of one Fat Lady, however.
She uses stock cubes: Lawson uses these with relish, along with frozen peas, and many other supermarket-bought prepared products.
There's no room for food snobbery in her kitchen. Fellow British food writer Nigel Slater has dubbed her, "queen of the frozen pea".
And what would a telly cook be without a catchphrase? Lawson's appears to be a finger-licking "yum, yum, yum".
* Nigella Bites, TV One, 8.30 pm
By FRANCES GRANT