The Blog

'Masterchef': The Cookery Show We've Definitely Lost Our Appetite For

Masterchef is undeniably well past its sell by date, but despite all the failings, maybe it's still about worth occasionally tuning into.

As India Fisher reliably and delightedly recently informed us, Masterchef (BBC1) is back.

That isn't baaack, by the way. If only it were baaack, the addition of those couple of extra a's - acting as a kind of vocabulary equivalent of two AA rosettes - would suggest it had been away for an extended period of time. It hadn't. And that we were all jolly eager and super excited to see its return. We weren't.

I for one had hardly noticed its all too brief hiatus from our screens. This could of course have something to do with the fact that I largely stopped watching it in 1947, when thanks to the continuation of rationing, all the recipes had started to get a bit samey and slightly uninspiring. Let's face it, there's only so much even the most experienced and creative chef can constantly do with 1oz of fat, 2oz of cheese and a shilling's worth of meat.

With so many versions of it currently on offer; including the regular one, the celebrity one, the professionals one, the junior one and the pet one (that beef stew cooked up by Fido in episode three of series four lingers as truly being a dog's dinner), not to mention Masterchef: the Cannibals, which only went out in Papua New Guinea and where those taking part were invited to prepare and cook each of the visiting hosts.

Anyway, there probably isn't a week goes by, or that's certainly how it seems, when in some form or another, Masterchef isn't on the air. As a concept it's been milked so often, it's no longer a televisual treat. These days, it's more of a televisual teat that has been sucked dry by a host of commissioning editors too lazy to come up with anything better.

The original and the worst version continues to be presided over by John Torode and Gregg Wallace. The word on the broadcast grapevine is that they were also offered Masterchef: the Cannibals, but regrettably for us they decided to turn it down. Pity really, not least because in one of Gregg's porkier periods, they could have still been making use of him come the final. "Cooking doesn't get tougher than this". Boy, you can say that again. Have you tasted this thigh? It ain't chicken.

It's a peculiar thing about Gregg, but try as you might, it's hard to find a picture of him with a buoyant barnet. Actually, it's nigh on impossible.

You can find plenty of pictures of numerous other famous baldies with their tresses intact such as Telly Savalas, Ghandi, Sir Ben Kingsley and Yul Brynner. But not the Masterchef presenter. It's as if he had something to hide. Was it a bubble perm he had back in the day? Nothing to be ashamed of there. We all had one. Didn't we?

There must be a snap somewhere in existence you think to yourself. However, there isn't. Not that I could find. If anyone can prove me wrong, I'd love to see it. Dinner on me at the follically challenged one's London restaurant to the first person who can produce a shot of him looking like Samson. Bad news. Alas, his eponymously named eatarie went spectacularly bust in 2014, so I guess a Greggs (nothing to do with Mr. Wallace) cheese and onion pasty will have to suffice.

Oh well, never mind about what's on the pate (or rather the lack of what's on the pate), the thing we have to concern ourselves with is what's on the plate. Frankly it's a disappointment. Not because it isn't good. The problem is that it's too good. Many of the dishes are so great, they're almost Michelin star standard. The contestants coming up with them could put the so called professionals to shame. They're just a little too seasoned, which is more than can be said for the bland bowl of soup I've just heated up.

But where's the entertainment and fun in that? We want to see them create a complete mess. We even want their Eton Mess to be a total blinking mess. We want to be able to scream at the TV, "Dear Lord, what a disaster, I could have done better than that".

The purpose of reality shows like this is to allow us to cheer at the catastrophes of the deluded Ramsey's and make us feel better about our own failings and inadequacies in the kitchen.

At the end, we don't want to get up from the sofa depressed and despondent at the level of culinary genius on display and be ready to slash our wrists with the lid from a tin of baked beans.

Never mind the kitchen though. In this season's opener, it was obviously Chris's performance in the bedroom that was being brought into question when the quality of the nookie he was offering up failed to please a former female contestant. Not at all satisfying, apparently. Which should hardly have come as any huge shock especially since it was in fact his Gnocchi that was sadly being criticised.

Masterchef is undeniably well past its sell by date, but despite all the failings, maybe it's still about worth occasionally tuning into.

After all, soon enough the remaining participants will be cooking for the critics. With that, there's always the vainest of hopes that one of them will slip up and accidentally poison Tracy MacLeod, Jay Rayner and Charles Campion. If it can only be one of them, please let it be the truly loathsome Chuck. What we wouldn't give to see him projectile vomiting all over the place.

Failing that, to enliven proceedings, perhaps Gregg will arrive on set and genuinely surprise everyone.

Bloody hell, I always had my suspicions that was a bald cap.