I used to watch a lot of cookery shows.
Sophie Dahl’s (now defunct) show was a dismal attempt to use the toothsome Ms Dahl to rip off the schtick of Nigella. Now Dahl might be eye candy but she can’t make candy. Or Dal or pretty much anything. So first rule is to get someone who can cook. Nigella can actually cook but you’d be amazed how often this basic rule is ignored. The most appalling example was Tom Parker-Bowles. I remember him making an utter horlicks of roasting a chicken or something and boiling peas. Apparently he is food critic for Tattler or some such… Sometimes you have to pity the upper-classes. Anthony Worrell-Thompson falls into much the same category – now he probably can cook in a sort of chicken in a basket sort of manner but he’s usually too pissed. I also have severe doubts about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
The second rule is to have some charisma. Delia Smith can cook but she don’t have it. She’s so ponderous and school ma’am-ish. Rick Stein is borderline but seems a nice guy and had a cute dog and that counts. H also didn’t violate the third rule.
The third rule is the most often violated. Don’t be annoying. Now the thing is some are annoying from the start. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall springs to mind and some become annoying. I assume it is because wht is annoying is their “trademark” which grates after a while. Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey spring to mind. Oliver’s cheerful mockneyism is unwatchable (“Take some of the old coriander” -cant the poor barrow-boy afford fresh ingredients?) and as for Ramsey – it’s like watching Reservoir Dogs with food and keep your shirt on Gordon. It may once have been the torso of an Adonis but it’s no more. The Hairy Bikers just piss me off. I can’t tell you why exactly but… I think it’s this… Remember Two Fat Ladies? That worked so some BBC-type thought, “Let’s do the same with working class blokes from up North!” It’s the shallowness of the commissioning more than anything. At the other extreme is Heston “Beaker” Blumenthal who prepares things that require a moderately sized university chemistry facility – sorry Heston me old china I can’t do that because Tesco is fresh out of liquid nitrogen. Oh, and Ainsley Harriott – do I have to explain? The absolutely most annoying of them all though is Gary Rhodes. He looks like a stick-insect that has stolen fiddler Nigel Kennedy’s barnet. There is something really weird about him and that catchphrase, “Now, build the dish”… that’s like the phrase “theatre workshops”. I’m with Alexei Sayle on them, “Anyone who uses the word workshop who isn’t involved in light engineering is a twat”.
Which brings me to rule four. Just because you’re on telly and know bain-marie is doesn’t mean we want you launching “crusades”. Now there’s a lot of them at it these days but the king of the meddlesome ratbags is Jamie “Turkey Twizzlers” Oliver.
There are chefs on TV that don’t break the rules but off the top of my head I can’t quite name them off the top of my head right now.