In a nutshell: Contrived kitchen crises don’t get much dafter than this…
Popcorn rating: 3/5
BBC1’s MasterChef is a bafflingly long and slightly hysterical series in which mostly middle-class contestants battle it out in the kitchen. As well as studio cook-offs, the would-be chefs also cook in real restaurants and take part in ‘surprise’ challenges… except they’re not a surprise, because they’re essentially the same every bloody series and one of them always involves catering for an event in a field (this year, a Highland Games; brilliantly, the only Scottish contestant disgraced himself by cutting his finger and whimpering like a girl).
I like watching over-confident fools wilt under pressure – a ‘deconstructed trifle’ that ended up looking like a selection of bodily fluids splattered on to a plate was a particular treat in episode one, for example. On that score, MasterChef pleases me. And I’ll freely admit that I find watching anyone cook interesting. Unfortunately, the programme-makers apparently don’t: this is surely only explanation for surplus melodrama they’ve shovelled on. The voiceover is delivered in the style of a judge passing a death sentence. An inexplicably blindfolded contestant sniffs a flabby lump of raw meat to music you’d expect to accompany Jack Bauer defusing a bomb.
Presiding over this laughable nonsense are John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Torode is the Ronseal-faced Aussie who used to cook horrid 90s ‘fusion’ food on This Morning With Richard & Judy. Wallace is… a greengrocer.
Yes. A greengrocer.
So how this gurning barrow-boy is qualified to judge a cookery competition is beyond me. He talks like your nan addressing someone foreign, and his witless appraisals generally amount to saying he likes puddings or simply listing the ingredients he’s just stuffed in his gob. Last night, he critiqued a dish with: “Yeah. Oh yeah. It tastes nice.”
But my most pressing complaint about MasterChef is the contestants. These smug bastards don’t need to become top chefs: they already have cool jobs. ‘Kennedy’ is a professional cellist. Alice is a model. Last year’s winner was a paediatrician – albeit captioned as a ‘children’s doctor’, presumably to ward off torch-wielding mobs of Sun readers confusing paediatricians with paedophiles. This country doesn’t need qualified paediatricians (or indeed qualified paedophiles) dicking about in a kitchen smearing artful apostrophes of celeriac purée on a square plate. I vote that next series, all the contestants are council workers made redundant to make way for the Big Society. Then I might bring myself to give a toss who wins.