Review: Why Masterchef - gurning Gregg Wallace and everything - brightens up our lives
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And yet, every year, I find myself watching – slack-jawed, drool dripping from the corner of my mouth, the reheated chilli from last night gently sliding off the plate on my lap.
It’s addictive, you see, like chocolate, or shortbread fingers, or in my case, hot buttered toast.
The contestants are always – and I mean always – lovely. Genuinely in love with cooking, and desperate to please the two tyrants of the stove, John Torode and the perma-gurning Gregg.
Yes, they may be slightly annoying – like Johnny, who wore his baseball cap backwards and had me worried bits might fall out of his beard on to his anaemic pressure-cooked chicken.
But they are so, so talented. Delivery driver Matthew is the star of this week. Someone who’s genuine love of food, particularly Caribbean cuisine, makes it to the plate unmediated by emulsions, foams and dusts. Okay, so you won’t even make it to the screen without knowing at least three ways to cook a scallop, but it looks so interesting, so colourful and so tasty.
It’s wonderfully cosmopolitan, with cooks bringing influences from across the world to liven up our palates, our kitchens, our lives in ways we didn’t even know we wanted – spiced Yorkshire puddings, anyone?
It’s an illustration that food can open our horizons to new lives and new experiences, and even with Gregg ‘phwoaring’ all over the place, that’s something to treasure.
A brand new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (ITV, Sun-Tues, 9pm) has been a terrific watch this week. Wittily written and directed by Hugh Laurie, I would watch a whole series of Lucy Boynton’s Lady Frankie solving country house crimes with devastating bon mots and lovely outfits.
Regular reader(s) of this column will know of my dedication to Taskmaster (Channel 4, Thurs, 9pm) but this series has possibly the jolliest contender ever. Jenny Eclair is clearly having the time of her life on the show, and her giggling ecstasy during this week’s ‘potato hat’ task was an absolute tonic.