Last night saw the debut of this season's 'Celebrity Masterchef', a tireless series where 16 eclectic luminaries take their chances in the kitchen, under the watchful eye of John Torode and the grin of Greg Wallace.
I was chewing my fingers with anticipation for Les Dennis, but it was four ladies donning aprons for this first episode – Sugababe Heidi Range, comedienne Katy Brand, broadcaster Janet Street-Porter and ‘businesswoman’ Jo Wood.
Four more celebs for the Masterchef Kitchen
Heidi Range was apparently the most ill-equipped, admitting that she's has not a) got used to multi-tasking, or b) actually ever stayed in to eat – a lack of skills possibly as they prepared to tackle the contents of the mystery box - the unpromising sight of a spider crab, a pineapple and some pistachio nuts. Hmm, no, no dish from Mrs Beaton immediately springs to mind.
So, based on her palate straight from the Ivy, just how DID Heid come up with that stunning crab salad? Methinks she protests too much.
Katy Brand was pretty ambitious, as Greg whispered loudly, with some crab ravioli. She was confident, though, pronouncing "You can rescue almost anything with butter." A woman after my own heart.
Jo Wood is obviously eating something right... 'you're a GRANDMOTHER?' shouted Greg
Greg Wallace was almost too busy marvelling at Jo Wood's youthfulness - "you're a GRANDMOTHER" – to taste her food, but her St Trinians outfit, plaits and saucy grin didn’t rescue her dish. Never mind cooking wholesome family favourites for a Rolling Stone for 30 years, Ronnie’s demands evidently haven’t prepared Jo for the Masterchef kitchen, or to tell the difference between duck and pork. Whoops.
But the episode really belonged to Janet Street-Porter, naturally, a born leader of troops who’s taken on bigger tyrants in her time than winking John and grinning Greg. “You complaining or stating?” she bellowed when Greg – that’ll be the judge, as he calmly pointed out – had the temerity to question her presentation.
Janet - taking no nonsense from John and Greg, but will she come undone?
“They’re trying to make me serve it like we’re in a restaurant,” she complained later, before admitting, “I might have to learn some humility. It doesn’t come naturally.”
But this a woman who's edited a national newspaper, been married four times, started walking to her corner shop in her forties, and promptly became President of the Ramblers’ Association before walking around the world - not a person to be underestimated. Keep grinning, Greg.
Who do YOU think will take home the series title of Celebrity MasterChef? Check out the full lineup of contestants below...