Did we like it?
Women like soaps, women like cookery shows. Oil is a liquid, water is a liquid.
What was tasty?
• Richard Arnold and Nicki Chapman are the perfect hosts for this light tea-time filler as they are the TV presenter equivalent of balloons thrashing about on tenuous strings on an entertainment stall; so light were they to be released from their firm anchor of daytime TV they would drift upwards and away into oblivion. But Nicki Chapman still wears the blight of her role in disseminating the Popstars virus around the country which helped Simon Cowell to his disgraceful eminence.
• Richard, meanwhile, seems trapped by his talent for being amusingly camp. “Oooh! Roux sauce!” he squealed. The pair even kindly colour coordinated their clothes so the dumb viewer could tell which team they were helping – Nicki wore a red top, Richard a blue shirt.
• If we had died while it was on, our last happy though would have been that we felt better off than anyone else watching it.
What was unpalatable?
• It all seems so utterly pointless, so futile. If Soapstar Superchef was an exam question it would be worth zero marks. Does it really matter if some lobotomised actresses from Coronation Street can cook better than two gurning chimps from Emmerdale? We are aware that this exposes the worthlessness of most TV, but the best shows can at least fall back on entertainment value.
• Are audiences for studio-based reality shows bred in some kind of lab? And during the process are they genetically modified so that all their complex human emotions are distilled into either cheers or jeers like a primitive binary computer? When Marlon from Emmerdale (we don’t know if that’s his real name or character’s name) cut his finger, the crowd cheered as jeering would have been even more inappropriate.
• But their stupidity was best exemplified when they booed the judges when they failed to deliver a full-on MMMMmmmmmm verdict on the meals each team had prepared. Jonathan, a food critic whose face looks like it has conducted a savage nuclear war on itself, said he “thought the duck was tough”; Rosemary, Hyacinth Bouquet made real, claimed, “I didn’t like the girls’ soufflé”. The audience disagreed noisily – despite not having tasted a mersel. Idiots.
• The ITV idiot quiz question: Dirty Den was a character in which soap? A) Coronation Street B) EastEnders C) Emmerdale. And with the recent brouhaha over quiz phone lines Richard overstated when the quiz closed, even urging viewers to “please stop calling” as the odds on winning plummeted from one in 500,000 to zero in 500,000.
• The banter is so banal it’s as if the collective boredom stockpiled in doctors’ waiting rooms across the country has been hunted down, gathered up and forced to parade in the Soapstar Superchef studio like some weird creature in a zoo. Richard asked one of the Emmerdale stooges: “Can you handle the heat in the kitchen?”
• If you cut ITV1’s head off, it would run around the TV schedules farmyard mindlessly churning out shows like this, only perhaps with more imagination.