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MasterChef: Greg and John a recipe for delicious disaster

The programmes to watch and the ones you really want to miss

By Joe Nawaz

Published 24/04/2015

Sweet talk: Gregg Wallace and John Torode
Sweet talk: Gregg Wallace and John Torode

You've got to love MasterChef, haven't you? It's the comically fancy food we could polish off in two forkfuls and the sheer stress that making miniature mash and tiny tarts seems to induce in these supposed amateurs that makes it such compelling viewing.

That and the fact that its unrelenting quest to take itself ever more seriously has reached the point where everything it does now seems like a parody of MasterChef.

The Great British Bake Off, for all its waffle(s), at least has some kind of homely familiarity about it. And Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry manage to get the odd soggy bottom into proceedings to lighten the mood.

But Wallace and Torode are like a faulty two-man ticker tape of straight-faced, top-end tosh, where vinaigrettes show aggressive tendencies and the wrong legumes can let down a steak tartare in the manner of a malevolent Shakespearian villain.

So it was an utter joy this week to witness the actual show where MasterChef finally reached peak levels of pretension.

The scene was perfectly set as contestants had to cook up a meal for descendants and fans of Winston Churchill. This triggered some of the most fabulously tenuous assertions on behalf of the wartime prime minister.

As quail's eggs where brought out, somebody pointed out that "Churchill loved eggs".

"Sitting under one of his paintings here, Churchill would have loved this," may have been the most puzzling of the desperate Churchillian spins, but granddaughter Celia Sandys was the Churchillian cherry on the croquembouche, never missing an opportunity to remind us who she was related to.

When the guests gave the traditional toast of "Sir Winston", she called out "Grandpapa!", like she'd been given the wrong hymn sheet. "I had many dinners with grandpapa," she insisted to no one in particular, while cousin Randolph kept a polite silence.

Then, apropos of nothing, she declared she had inherited a love of ice cream from Winston, which surely must rank as one of his lesser-known attributes.

But it didn't stop amidst the dotty gentility of the dining area. Torode and Wallace were on metaphorical fire in the kitchen. "Pete's struggling with meringues, with macaroons. He's waaaay outside his comfort zone," competed with, "There's nowhere to hide with this dessert", for the best sweet-related hyperbole.

But they kept their finest lines for the knock-out stage of the competition, with "sophisticated notes" emanating from cabbage and chestnuts, and sauces appearing "beautiful and glossy".

Wallace's full range of cockney Gromit gurns were also deployed as he implored Paul to get emotion into his food.

But the defining moment in the programme, the point past which all bets were off, was John Torode's magnificent outburst: "There's eight or nine different spices all packed across the top of a little baby chicken. If it works, it's going to be like a magic carpet ride. If it doesn't, it's going to be like falling face first into a big heap of… shagpile."

To paraphrase Churchill himself, never in the field of culinary conflict has so much been spouted by so few to so many. After all, it's why we tune in.

Baffling world of Clogher Cattle Market's not to be sneezed at

Nothing could have been farther from the ripe tripe of MasterChef commentary than the dealers' banter at the Clogher Cattle Mart.

The latest True North instalment looked at the trials and tribulations of wheelers, dealers and, um, horse traders at one of the biggest Cattle Marts in the north. "Clogher is the free market in its purest form," explained the voiceover as it cut to the decidedly un-entrepreneurial-looking assemblage of affable middle-aged cloth-capped chaps in body warmers and wellies.

Opening with the Bond theme Diamonds are Forever might have been an interesting choice of song to set the scene on one of the principle agricultural institutions, but it was soon revealed that there was more to Clogher Market that mere bidding for cattle.

It was also doubled as a kind of real life chat line where lonely farmers could find out what other lonely farmers were talking about, and Jean in the canteen knew the desire of every man - namely a sausage and bacon bap with extra ketchup. A near-baffling code comprising winks, twitches, burps, finger-bopping and eyebrow waggling represented bids. The auctioneer had the unenviable task of interpreting these spasms as serious offers of money, and translating proceedings at an unintelligible pace that can only be described at speaking in (ox) tongues.

It made you want to witness the action first hand. Provided you didn't sneeze and end up taking home a Mullingar heifer.

Krishnan strikes while iron is hot and gets burned for his troubles

He’s done it again. Who saw Krishnan Guru-Murthy annoy Iron Man with an ill-judged question? Everyone, I’m assuming.

His interview with Robert Downey Jr began innocuously enough, but when he attempted to delve into matters personal, it all went a bit Pete Tong.

“Your foot’s starting to jump around, you’d better get to your next question,” Downey Jr told a jittery Guru-Murthy.

He did, but it was a bumbled attempt to question RDJ — as nobody calls him — about his well-documented “murky” drug past and his uneasy relationship with his father.

Downey Jr politely walked, leaving Krishnan appearing bemused. But not bemused enough not to tweet about “a steely moment from Iron Man”.

The Channel 4 News mainstay has form in this, of course. The last time it was Quentin Tarantino, who threatened to shut Guru-Murthy’s butt down.

Having seen the presenter flail through many interviews over the years, I always have a kind of malevolent glee when he annoys famous people.

But I expect it merely adds to the combative reputation of the man I nearly had a fight about with somebody in a pub.

I mean, who REALLY thinks he’s a Guru-Murphy?

Switch On:

I’ve updated my recurring nightmare since I watched Storyville the other night. I’m no longer terrified of being sent to any old prison. Nothing less than Russia’s Toughest Prison will do. Good luck asking for political prisoner status there...

Switch Off:

Letting Stacey Dooley Investigate is a bit like asking your cat to direct traffic. Only a maniac or somebody desperate for click-bait would want to film the results. Or there’s always BBC3.

Belfast Telegraph

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