Why Celebrity Masterchef - bellowing Gregg and all - reminds us of what we've been missing during the lockdown

It seems apt that, in the week the Government was urging us all to go back to the nation’s pubs, bars and restaurants in some kind of bacchanalian economic jumpstart, Celebrity Masterchef (BBC1, Wednesday, 9pm) returned.

Friday, 3rd July 2020, 7:00 pm

It’s the comfortingly familiar formula – five celebs of varying starriness cook something from John Torode’s ‘maaar-kut’, then go and give a pro chef palpitations in his kitchen, before trying their best at nouvelle cuisine in a last-ditch effort to impress John and his co-host, walking phwoar-machine Gregg Wallace.

Gregg, as is his schtick, wanders around the kitchen exhorting the contestants to “FOCUS!”, all the while making this impossible by bellowing “FOCUS!” at them from Covid-19 transmitting distance.

Somehow, the cooks manage to dollop something on a plate, before heading off to the restaurants, where they grapple with octopus and venison.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Thomas Skinner, from The Apprentice, featured on Celebrity Masterchef. Picture: Shine TV/BBC

Gregg’s long-lost son Thomas Skinner (The Apprentice), meanwhile, attempts to feed the world and runs out of broccoli.

By the time they get back to the Masterchef bunker, they seem to have learned something, and comedian Judi Love’s tilapia and chips dish looks positively lovely.

It’s all good knockabout fun, if you can ignore Gregg’s gurning GIF-generator of a face. And it makes you long for those less contagious times when you could go somewhere to eat delicious food cooked by someone else – without the aid of gravy granules – with good friends and a drink or two.

So if you’re heading back to the good life this weekend, please be careful, respect others, and make sure it’s all still there for the rest of us when this is all over.

I tried to interest the kids in something other than YouTubers playing Fortnite, but Floor is Lava (Netflix) is not it – annoying Americans shouting across styrofoam sets does not grab their attention.

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads (BBC1, Mon/Tues, 9pm) has been consistently excellent, although such his cosy image you forget quite how dark and disturbing these monologues get.