Pass the sickbag - it’s the ‘Masterchef’ final
Why are only pampered panjandums allowed to be catered to by the BBC's amateur chefs?
So, the final of Masterchef is here again - 9pm tonight on BBC1, if you're interested - and all the telly columnists are agreed that the programme's the finest thing since sliced peaches and it's been another fab series. Well, excuse me while I throw up.
It's not the studio challenges I object to, nor watching the contestants sweat in a professional kitchen, nor the loud-mouthed judges Gregg Wallace (far left) and John Torode (far right).
What I find increasingly hard to take are the 'opportunities' Masterchef offers its contestants to prepare a feast for a group of diners, invariably gathered together in a castle or a palace or a regimental dining room, who deign to cast aside their normal catering arrangements in favour of a five-course feast prepared for their delectation by the humble amateurs.
At which point, these pampered panjandrums look down their noses at the dishes placed before them, sniff indignantly, and proclaim: "I don't normally like my quails eggs scrambled this way" - or some such nonsense - "but, I have to say, it's raaaaather good".
This is the BBC at its most retrograde. It's enough to make you wish the late Corin Redgrave and his Trotskyite buddies in the Workers' Revolutionary Party were at least put in charge of Britain's broadcasting, if not the country itself.
They don't have to be upper-class British twits to get the Masterchef producers salivating. In the last few days, we have seen tonight's finalists cook for the Maharaja of Jodhpur and his family in northern India.
As the camera panned across the imposing façade of the Maharaja's palace, the voice-over informed us that some forefather of His Magnificence - or whatever they call him - had had the place built in order to provide work to the locals during a catastrophic drought. Oh come on!
We then watched as the three finalists got themselves into a horrible lather, trying to prepare a meal fit to put before a Maharaja and his wife, sorry Maharani, without the ice-cream melting in the heat of the night.
As they love to do, Torode and Wallace interrupted the sweating contestants with such helpful comments as: "These diners are VERY DEMANDING!" or "You're cooking for ROYALTY, you know!" We were also reminded countless times that the Maharaja had his own cooks standing by in readiness should any aspect of the amateurs' offering displease him.
Pass the sickbag!
My point isn't that members of royalty - whether Indian, British or otherwise - don't have the right to the odd meal on the BBC. It's that it is always like this on Masterchef.
Why can't the contestants cook a meal for the 20 prisoners in Block C at Pentonville, or the common room at Northampton High, or, for that matter, the staff of The First Post?
We could do with a square meal paid for by the licence-fee payers and we're just as capable as the Worshipful Company of Museum Curators - or whoever's down for the next series - of turning up our noses at the filet d'halibut aux agrumes, vert et blanc de blettes, condiment a l'aubergine and saying, "Not bad, not bad - perhaps a little more seasoning?" ·
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