The Restaurant, BBC2

by | Aug 29, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

We’ve been here before. We recognise the artificial drip, drip, drip of cold terror induced by dangling a heart’s desire in front of the nose of a bunch of soulless entities before it is snatched away one at a time for the sadistic pleasure of the audience before all guilt is assuaged by savouring the ‘journey’ of the winning couple. And Raymond Blanc is no Sir Alan Sugar no matter how many lackeys he surrounds himself with.

What was good about it?

• No facsimile of The Apprentice can be all bad. Instead of folding up notes and stuffing them in a wallet, here food is burnt to a cinder who shouldn’t be let as near to a kitchen as Jack the Ripper should be the foggy streets of Victorian London. Yes, you get press-ganged into caring about these people even though you should know better.

• You start to wish for someone to whip Tim into shape for his obsession with getting his drum kit set up instead of helping out in the kitchen – even if you know thanks to the innate mendacity of producers the two events happened six days apart.

What was bad about it?

• The nine pairs are supposed to be challenged to set up a restaurant and open their doors within six days to the paying public. This isn’t a challenge; it’s a cynical way for a TV programme to extort tension, arguments, hatred and the Holy Grail of tears from a cast of characters they don’t give a damn about.

• Dreams. Almost in the first haughty sentence of a narration that seems to be enunciated by Lucifer’s chief prosecutor, we are assured that the show is about “Nine couples who dream of having their own restaurant!” And just before the end, we are told that “For one couple it will be the end of their dream!”

Who really ‘dreams’ of opening a restaurant? Do these people emerge from the womb a fully-grown 41-year-old with a cargo of unspent puppy fat whose only ambition is to indulge in a moribund activity where the only pleasure comes from satiating a primal, savage instinct in others? The yearning to open your own restaurant can only come from a ‘dream’ to create art for artisans. Food is, never has been and never will be as important as music, literature or art (apart from in the field of keeping you alive), so this tsunami of cookery programmes is simply swine slobbering at the trough.

• Tim complaining to the employment agency that the chef they have sent him is unsuitable as his experience is largely rooted in care home cookery. We don’t have a problem about his complaint in itself, it’s more the way he was marching about his restaurant in front of the ‘chef’ slagging off his skills and essentially degrading him to a lower form of life (still several leagues above all reality show contestants).

• The inevitable reality show quirks that unmask proceedings to be about as realistic as the X-Factor auditions. Emma whooped that Raymond had “completely caught me by surprise” as he phoned her to ask for an update – are we expected to believe that a cameraman just happened to be focusing on her when this happened?

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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