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Shelley Vision; Masterchef's celebs overcook the drama.


THERE may be a more ridiculous series on television than Celebrity Masterchef but it's hard to think of one.

For a start, there's the title. Calling it Ex-Celebrity Masterchef would be generous. Neil Stuke, Alex Fletcher, Tricia Penrose and Martin Roberts? Hold me back.

Nihal Arthanayake is not exactly what you'd call a household name even in the Arthanayake household.

"Reputations mean NOTHING in the Masterchef kitchen," blustered judge John Torode - which was true mostly because they didn't have a reputation.


Torode and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Gregg Wallace always remind me of two charmless, big-mouthed cabbies - always ready to offer their belligerent, uninteresting opinions and to stuff their faces. Torode, in particular, is a master of behaving as if his most moronic contribution is in fact an ingenious conundrum.

He's always wondering whether actors can cook without a script, when we all know someone's job has no connection with their culinary skills.

"Tessa Sanderson can throw a javelin," he said challengingly. "The question is, what's she going to be like with a frying pan?" Eh? "Alex Fletcher is an actress from Brookside," Wallace joined in. "So we have no idea whether she can cook or not." I wasn't aware that being on Brookside could be an impediment to being able to cook. It clearly hasn't stopped Claire Sweeney (unfortunately).

Ms Fletcher excelled herself by selecting a fish she had never seen before and had no idea how to prepare.

The central premise of the show is the most nonsensical part of all. "Cooking!" Wallace bellows. "DOESN'T. Get-tougherthan-this!!" (Why do TV chefs bark. In short. Staccato. SENTENCES?) Working as a chef in every single kitchen in the country - from a humble caff to a five-star restaurant - is infinitely harder. "Brave people, John," Wallace sighed in admiration. "Brave to walk in to this kitchen."

No. Nineteen-year-olds fighting in Afghanistan are brave.

The contestants love this rubbish.

"This is terrifying," trembled luvvies like Stuke. "Terrifying."

No. It's c-o-o-k-i-n-g. For the second test, they taste (not cook) an omelette.

"I'm terrified, quite frankly," trembled Nihal. "I've never done a 'Palette Test' in my life".

That's because usually it's called "eating".

"I am scared, but I'm just going to have a go," agreed Fletcher before judging that the omelette "looks like it's got egg".

Tessa Sanderson and Colin Jackson tried to tell us Masterchef was more nerveracking than THE OLYMPICS. Hilariously, Christine Hamilton kept bursting into tears.

Only ex-Dragons' Den entrepreneur Richard Farleigh had any sense of proportion.

But he did produce one of the most bizarre dishes though: a side dish of "roasted apples, figs, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, pears, onions and garlic". Basically, everything he liked in a huge pile.

Christine Hamilton demonstrated how to mess up a plate of mussels (with, retch, dollops of gorgonzola).


Tessa Sanderson belied the title of the show of the show by not being able to cook at all.

"Chicken almost raw," summarised Torode. "Potatoes almost raw, carrots almost raw... " Even I can boil carrots. The whole format is deeply flawed. Each show takes one hour to determine which two of the five "celebrities" are the best chefs.

As this is always totally obvious, there is zero tension.

Friday's decider consisted mostly of re-hashed leftovers from the previous episodes and lots of shots of three guest food critics and the two unkempt cabbies wedging huge piles of food into their mouths.

"COOKING," as Wallace & Torode would say. "Doesn't. Getmuch-more-ludicrous-than-this."

Sherlock is so Baker Streetwise

SOMEWHERE between Guy Ritchie's super-slick blockbuster and Steven Moffat's new Doctor Who, Sherlock was good fun.

Moffat and Mark Gatiss from The League of Gentlemen gave a judicious sprinkling of text messages, snazzy visual trickery, and talk of serial killers to the Conan Doyle novels. It was CSI: Baker Street.

True, Martin Freeman is too dull as Watson, the traumatised army doctor back from Afghanistan.

But Benedict Cumberbatch is terrific as Holmes - mixing the Jeremy Brett theatrics from the original series and the type of Matt Smith oddbod Moffat loves.

Cumberbund enjoyed himself immensely, playing Sherlock with great panache.

"The landlady owes me a favour," he told Watson about their famous flat. "A few years back, her husband got himself sentenced to death in Florida. I was able to help."

"You stopped her husband being executed?!" Watson asked, impressed. "Oh no," Holmes replied. "I ensured it."

I won't spoil the resolution of the case but it was elementary, to me, long before Sherlock.

"Who passes unnoticed wherever they go?" the detective asked as the traffic drove past. "Who hunts in the middle of the crowd?" With his knowledge (hint, hint), he should have worked that out.

Fascinating pig stats of the week

1. Number of pigs in Britain: 5.5million

2. Period pigs have existed: 40 million years

3. Amount Britons spend each year on pork: pounds 9 billion (The Private Life of Pigs)

Gag of the week

Bob Mortimer: "So what sort of song goes down well at a funeral then?" Party DJ Angelos: "If You Don't Know Me By Now."

(Shooting Stars)

Insult of the week

"Jack! With your face like a knackered puffin... With your face like a worn out willy." - Vic Reeves to Jack Dee, right, (Shooting Stars)

Break it to him gently

Alex Reid to the vicar at the rehearsal of his wedding: "So do we actually take the ring off first?" Jordan: "Right, you plonker. When you get here, your best man has the rings." (Katie & Alex: For Better, For Worse).

Amazing facts of the week

1. Almost half the UK's adult population would consider surgery to change their appearance (Ugly Face of Beauty). Only half?

2. Channel 5's audience share is 6% (BBC News). As much as that.

Wit of the week

"Jen lacks basic computer skills. Like thinking that IT stands for Internet Things." - Renham Industries Ben (The IT Crowd)


"You've really got to know what you're doing. I bid against myself twice."- Farmer Jimmy Doherty at a livestock auction (The Private Life of Pigs)

Philosophical cop of the week

"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are. And Courage to see that they change." - DI. John Bloom (Identity) Well she said it..

"I worked hard to get the New Identities department under our roof. Don't make me look like a greedy, over-reaching bitch." - Det. Keeley Hawes (Identity). Too late.

Quip of the week

"You see, this is where it all goes wrong for Mrs P. She can't do proper cement. She can't get the consistency." - Theo Paphitis finds the flaw with the inventor of a motorised washing line machine's suggestion that it needs a homemade block of concrete to stand in (Dragons' Den)

Too much information

"I've got the runs cos I'm so nervous." - Jordan's mother Amy, as charming and classy as her daughter (Katie & Alex: For Better, For Worse)

Bad news of the week

"I've found out since the operation that the person who did my operation isn't actually a qualified surgeon. He's a dermatologist." - (Ugly Face of Beauty)

The youth of today, pt 247

"What's good yeah? Cool time." - Fazer talks to, er, a horse (Being N-Dubz)

Diplomat of the week

"I love different cultures. You call us 'poms' is it? And we call you... racists." - Lee Nelson to a member of the audience from Australia (Lee Nelson's Well Good Show)

Coming to you on Channel 5 soon

"Welcome back to Late Night Dog Poker on Dave." - David Mitchell (The Mitchell & Webb Show)

Drama queen of the week

"Unused to such childishness, Simon is starting to lose it - he's a florist on the edge." - Narrator, Robert Webb (Young, Dumb And Living Off Mum)

Cameron Diaz (Top Gear) Fast mover

The Private Life of Pigs Meat is murder?

Dragons' Den Lambs to the slaughter

The Mitchell & Webb Show Peep Show can't come soon enough

Davina (Big Brother) If she can't be bothered, why should we?

Fairy Jobmother, Undercover Boss, Hotel Inspector We get the idea.


"Yeah mon, Vicarage!

What's happening? Embrace the One Love.

Or I'll deck ya!" - Reverend Smallbone's parishioner, Colin, tells him he has become a Rastafarian on the grounds "it's like being a Christian but you get to smoke ganja" (Rev).

"Me and Orlando were made from the same egg. But the egg split and then Orlando went in the freezer for three years."

- Aspen Drewitt-Barlow (10) on his identical twin (Cutting Edge: My Weird And Wonderful Family)




Additional research by Laura Sibbald


TEAM Cumberbatch and Freeman A LOT ON HER PLATE Christine Hamilton and, inset, show judges Wallace & Torode
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 26, 2010
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