MasterChef – Refined Car Crash TV

“Whoever wins, it will change their loife”

“Cooking doesn’t get taffer than this” beam John Torrode and Gregg Wallace, ushering us into another episode of TVs best cookery show. You cannot fault their go-get’em attitude though, you almost start to believe that this is the cooking equivalent of the Roman Gladiatorial Games, with contestants dodging a hurtling mace in order to reach the mace (word play. Boom).

But this programme offers dual pleasures: 1) watching genuinely talented cooks showcase their talents. The skill, the attention and joy they conjure up these culinary masterpieces is just phenomenal, and it leaves you wanting to cheer when John and Gregg give their seal of approval. Gregg can do some of the best *amazed* looks known to man. The depth of expression he manages to put across is masterful: “Mate. That. Is. Heaven…..Heaven” whispers Gregg with just enough emphasis to realise he meant it. He bloody meant it.

But then….2) You want to see the fuck ups. The ones who think they are all that but serve tasteless slop. Ha! Was that a jus you tried to create? As it didn’t look reduced enough to me. Pah. Amateurs. (I forgot to mention, like most shows of a similar ilk MasterChef turns you into an armchair expert. I now can spot a dish that John and Gregg will give a mournful shake of the head to a mile off. Yoghurt? With fish? Are you mental?!?!!?)

But worst of all is the stage the cheffettes go through where they are given a choice of two possible dishes, and forced (I think I saw a set of manacles once) to cook it under the piercing glare of John and Gregg. But it is here that the two presenters come into their own; the high-camp looks they give each other or the food is top quality theatrics. Predominately they fall into a few main camps: the glance at each other with a bemused shake of the head; the raised eyebrow with a slight approving nod; or the ‘break glass in case of emergency’: the holding the head in hands. These little vignettes are one of the most real links to the silent movie era that we are lucky to have today. Treasure them.

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