Did we like it?
This is how cooking should be on television – consigned to the battery farm of rigid instruction from a snarling, patronising host rather than allowed to spread its wings into the free range indulgence of celebrity cheffery, replete with futile, organic self-aggrandizing campaigns for social change. And, more remarkably, Chris Moyles was tolerable until he relapsed to ogrish type.
What was good about it?
• The frenetic pace of Ramsay simply doing what he does best by cooking in the kitchen was both entertaining and educational. If we’d had an inclination to join in, we feel that even we could have cooked up some scallops, steak, chips and chocolate mousse.
• The practice of catching up with various cooks dotted around the country on a webcam was a good idea in theory, and in some instances it even was successful.
• Because he had to concentrate on copying what Ramsay was doing Chris Moyles, was a tolerable presence, acting the goat by using the wrong pan for his olive oil or devouring the chocolate instead of using it in the mousse.
• Alan Carr’s Thai recipe vanquishing Ramsay’s doppelganger meal 4-1 as voted for by the ‘blind tasters’. Sadly for all lovers of natural justice, Ramsay beat Max Beesely 4-1 and Mica Paris 5-0 in the latter two ‘cook-offs’.
• Ramsay being silenced to rare humility when he barked at Max Beeseley: “How many women have you slept with?” “How many women have you fingered?” retorted Beeseley.
What was bad about it?
• While many elements were evidently impromptu and improvised on the spot, some parts of the show were clearly rehearsed and scripted beforehand. And, as we’ve seen on Extras, Gordon Ramsay rivals ex-footballer Bryan Robson and ex-Celebrity Fat Club judge Ann Widdecombe as the worst actor ever to appear on British TV.
• Here, he was prepped to make some crass quips to naturist Barbara who was joining in on a webcam: “Put a pinny on, I don’t want to see your new minge.”; “Shave these chives. I said chives, Barbara. The last thing we need to shave live is your ninny.”; “Barbara! You obviously don’t like dressing, do you?”; “Barbara! Show me your chips! I said your chips not your tits!”
• A mobile phone goes off in the studio. “Who the hell is that!” fumes Gordon in his wretched wrathful panto rage. Oh look, the offending phone has been left within Gordon’s reach, and, what luck, there also happens to be a camera focused on it. It’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, gulping down the last few breathes of before his oxygen supply of fame siphoned from Gordon and Jamie Oliver runs out, warning Gordon that he must make sure that all his chicken produce is free range. It’s a good job Gordon had earlier memorised the soulless press release vernacular – “I’ve never ever, ever used anything but free range!” – Sainthood surely beckons.
• The audience gathered round the celebrity elite table possessed the kind of brainless skull cavities that, had they been shut down in the mid-80s for a paucity of cerebral activity, would have caused no semblance of social insurrection amongst those mining them for the sparse nuggets of intellectual worth.
• During one of the ad breaks there was a commercial for Newton Faulkner’s album on which he makes a fine mess of songs originally performed by people with infinitely more talent than him, though he’s enhanced by the sales hook of a beard and that looks to be trying really, really hard.
• The rolling pin becomes a phallic joke. We’re not sure if this rolling pin was chosen for a puerile interlude between Moyles and Ramsay, or if it was the hyperactive moronic mind of Moyles simply acting on the spur of the moment.
• And the infantile quips become a torrential substitute for the genuine wit, which Ramsay showed he is cripplingly bereft of on Have I Got News For You. “Small knob of butter” invokes mirth from Moyles; Ramsay to a camp guest on the elite dinner table, “Alan, a big fan of pink meat?”; and Moyles to Ramsay, “Can I just say your wife just enjoyed my meat!”
• Moyles’ cruel remark to a good-natured woman on a webcam, “Don’t you think she looks like a fat Delia Smith?”
• Ramsay slapped his right hand into the open palm of his left hand about 30 times.
• In Ramsay’s challenge against three guests, the ‘blind tasters’ were the sort of human bile disgorged by the shift in food programmes from showing people how to cook to transforming chefs into the 21st century versions of Da Vinci, Tolstoy and Lennon. “Good colours!” offered one pointless specimen. “Lovely presentation, isn’t it?” offered another unaware that food is for putting in the mouth rather than being clinically assessed like a sick zoo animal about to be put to sleep. “I like the texture!” offered a third, providing damning proof that people who go to posh restaurants – namely The Ivy – should, on finishing their meal, detach and hammer their tongues to the ceiling above their table so they are incapable of infecting the rest of society with their inane banter.