Jamie Oliver has defended the residents of Rotherham after he was accused of making them look like ‘thickos’.

The TV chef caused controversy after the first episode of his new Channel 4 series, Jamie’s Ministry of Food, featured a mother of two from the south Yorkshire town who fed her children solely on fast food takeaways.

Councillor John Gilding, leader of the town’s Conservative group, said that the episode portrayed the residents of Rotherham as ‘thick as planks’ who ‘live on doner kebabs.’

But speaking on ITV1’s GMTV Today, Jamie, 33, described the town’s residents as ‘wonderful’ and ‘amazing’ and said they were helping to change people’s lives.

In the four-part series, Jamie hopes to teach ‘pyramid cooking’ – where he trains eight people to cook, they each pass on the recipes to two of their friends, and they will do the same until 250,000 have been taught to cook.

The chef told host Fiona Phillips: “Rotherham’s a great place, the people are amazing, and it’s actually statistically the most normal town in Great Britain so, in theory, if anything works there, it could work anywhere in the country.

“I want people from Rotherham to think they’ve been put on the map, they’re wonderful people.”

He went on: “A lot of people locally have said I made Rotherham look like a bunch of thickos. It’s just really obvious to say if you don’t know these basic things of cooking, you’re stupid and it’s not the case.”

The second episode of Jamie’s Ministry of Food will be screened on Tuesday at 9pm on Channel 4.