Real English Conversations: junk food (part 3 of 3)

Hi! Lori here, welcoming you to another episode of Real English Conversations from Today’s episode is the third in a three part series in which Michael and I discuss the English government’s recent ban on commercials for junk food before 9 pm, when children are likely to be watching. In part three, we go on to discuss banning commercials for cigarettes as well. This conversation features some common slang and idiomatic expressions. If this is your first time listening, you might want to go back and listen to parts one and two before moving on to part three.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Conversation transcript

Michael: Well, well how about cigarettes? You know?
Lori: Oh, don’t even get me started on cigarettes.

M: Well, I can remember back in the 70’s umm…when I was very young, umm that cigarettes I’m pretty sure could be advertised on television.
L: Yeah, I remember cigarette ads on TV.
M: Yup
L: When I was a kid.
M: And even…the irony of this, I mean, in England, I mean, the…the national game, aside from…from football…soccer, is cricket. And all the…the cricket…the big cricket matches would be sponsored by cigarette manufacturers, you know, so, umm, but you’d be bombarded with these adverts for cigarettes and showing how cool cigarettes are. But eventually it was made illegal you…no more TV ads for this — cigarettes — because we…it’s accepted that they’re bad for you. Umm…So I mean I guess, I mean cigarettes are pretty extreme, they give you cancer, err…
L: Yeah, they do all kinds of horrible things to you.
M: Right.
L: And I’m sorry, anyone out there who really, honestly believes that cigarettes don’t harm you if you smoke them…
M: That’s crazy.
L: You need a serious reality check.
M: Absolutely.
L: I mean, of course you’re…you’re going to find people who are resistant, who can take a lot of, you know, everyone has this story of their “old uncle Joe,” who…
M: Who lived till they were 85…
L: …drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney and…umm…you know, lived until he was 95 when his old ticker just finally gave out. You know we all have stories like that, but overall I mean…
M: Sure
L: You’re just kidding yourself if you think…
M: Well, maybe…
L: That cigarettes are not just pure evil.
M: Right, right. But I think, I think this is good that they…they’re…they’re drawing the line with this because…
L: Definitely.
M: It’s a moral thing, umm…
L; Yeah it will be interesting to see if it has any repercussions. Um, I’m actually looking at…was this on the BBC?
M: That’s right, yeah, it was on the BBC news site which I go to for the…
L: Right,they have a lot of great stories on there. I’m looking, they actually have a poll now up now up on the web site, umm, where the question is, “Should TV junk food adverts be banned?” And I’m looking at the results here of the poll…so far, over 8000 people have voted. And 46% say that “Yes, entirely.”
M: Entirely!
L: Yeah, entirely.
M: Not just for under-16s?
L: No…yeah, that the junk food adverts on TV should be banned entirely. 46% of the voters have voted for that. And then there some other options that both are “yes,” you know, “yes, before 9pm,” or “yes, only on children’s TV”…
M: OK.
L: …that all together add up to 80%.
M: And so…
L: So only 20% of the voters have said that “no”…
M: That they shouldn’t be…
L: That TV junk food adverts should not be banned. Only 20%. So that…I know you can’t draw too many conclusions from a, you know, an online web survey…
M: But it’s and indicator, though.
L: Yeah, that at least it’s a question worth exploring.
M: Absolutely, yeah.
L: I think.
M: OK, so shall we go to McDonald’s now?
L: Yeah, I could really use a Big Mac!

Final words
The article and poll that we discuss in the conversation are still up on the BBC website, except now over 12 000 people have voted. The proportions are still about the same, though. I’ve put a link to the article at the bottom of this episode’s transcript on

That’s all for this time; thanks very much for listening! You can send your questions and comments to our email address: info [AT] betteratenglish [DOT] com. We love hearing from you! And thanks so much for your continued donations; Michael and I really appreciate your support. Bye for now!

Bonus link

BBC junk food article and poll

Vocabulary list

There are many types of irony (in drama and literature, for example), but here Michael means that the pairing of football and cigarettes is not what you would expect. Football/soccer is an athletic sport that you wouldn’t expect to be associated with something unhealthy such as cigarettes, and vice versa.

reality check
This is an informal way of saying that someone needs to consider facts, not just their emotions or beliefs.

If you are resistant to something (in this case) it means that your body is not affected by something generally considered harmful. If you are resistant to damage from cigarette smoking, it means that you suffer few or no harmful effects.


If you can take (a lot of) something, it means that you accept or tolerate it.

drank like a fish
If someone drinks like a fish, it means that they drink a lot of alcohol. Usually somewhat disapproving.

smoked like a chimney

If someone smokes like a chimney, it means that they smoke a lot of cigarettes (or other smokable substance).

Ticker is an informal/slang word for heart.

gave out
If something gives out, it stops working, usually after a long time of working well.

kidding yourself
If you are kidding yourself, you are fooling yourself or not being honest with yourself. Informal.

drawing the line
If you draw the line, you don’t do or support certain actions because you think they’re entirely wrong.

A repercussion is the (usually bad) effect of an action, situation, or event.

draw (too many) conclusions from

This idiomatic phrase means that you form an opinion or make a decision about something after considering the available information and evidence.

I could really use
This is an idiomatic way of saying that you have a strong desire or need for something. For example, “Wow, it’s stuffy in here; I could really use some fresh air.” Or “I’m having a terrible time with my boss lately; I could really use your advice.”