A cook-off where ev­ery­one’s a winner? What a prize fudge!

Daily Mail - - Television -

French and Saun­ders didn’t want the job. Jamie Oliver didn’t want it. Dav­ina Mc­call said no. even food jour­nal­ist Kate Quil­ton, who is a fine pre­sen­ter but hardly a house­hold name, turned it down.

The task of fol­low­ing Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc as hosts of The Great Bri­tish Bake Off was widely per­ceived as not so much a chal­lenge, more a poi­soned chal­ice. In des­per­a­tion, chan­nel 4 bosses — who are pay­ing a lu­di­crous £75 mil­lion for rights to the show — went trawl­ing among panel game regulars, the ones who say yes to ev­ery gig, and came up with . . . Sandi Toksvig and noel Field­ing.

She’s short and ex­plo­sive. he’s tall and dozy. Why not go the whole hog, and get can­non and Ball? In­stead of, ‘On your marks, get set, bake,’ they can shout: ‘rock on, Tommy!’

The af­ter­noon cook­ery con­test Chop­ping Block (ITV) re­lies on the more prac­ti­cal team of chef rose­mary Shrager and for­mer Bake Off champ John Whaite to judge the ri­val am­a­teurs. They set ba­sic tasks, such as joint­ing a chicken and mak­ing mashed potato, as well as in­tro­duc­ing slightly more tricky skills — this time, tem­per­ing choco­late.

This is a show that can ac­tu­ally teach the av­er­age home cook lessons worth know­ing, though if rose­mary served that puréed mash in a restau­rant I’d want to send it back. It looked like white gravy.

On the other hand, she’s got a bel­low like a force nine gale. When she shouted in­struc­tions at the con­tes­tants from close range, she al­most blew them off their feet.

I wouldn’t want her storm­ing out of the kitchen to tick me off . . . so I’d prob­a­bly just say noth­ing and drink my mashed potato.

The judges failed badly when it came to pick­ing a winner. The novices had to turn their backs, while John and rose­mary com­pared notes, a mo­ment of ten­sion that was at least dif­fer­ent from the usual drawn- out pause be­fore the vic­tor is an­nounced.

But they fluffed it. Un­able to choose who had started the week best, they gave the prize (a box of real ales) to ev­ery­one.

That’s a hope­less fudge. If no­body wins, ev­ery­body loses. TV com­pe­ti­tions are not like com­pre­hen­sive schools, where no one is al­lowed to come top of the class.

It’s a fair bet that co­me­dian

MATCH OF THE DAY: In the af­ter­math of a vi­o­lent rape, the towns­folk of Broad­church (ITV) de­cided to cheer them­selves up with a game of beach foot­ball. But it all turned nasty — more like 90 min­utes of hand-to-hand com­bat.

richard Ayoade was top of his school at ev­ery­thing aca­demic. his in­tel­lec­tual su­pe­ri­or­ity to the world is a run­ning joke on Travel Man (c4).

But as he spent 48 hours in the hun­gar­ian cap­i­tal Budapest with ac­tress Ais­ling Bea, the joke was wear­ing thin. he was con­temp­tu­ous of the lo­cal cui­sine, such as mar­row­bone wrapped in ging­ham nap­kins, and fish goulash.

he sneered at the steam­ing spa pools where chess play­ers clus­tered in clouds of steam around che­quered boards. he was even unim­pressed by the life­size bronze statue of Peter Falk ( a new Yorker whose an­ces­tors were hun­gar­ian) as Lieu­tenant columbo.

The first few times he did this, in cities such as Barcelona and Is­tan­bul, it was amus­ing.

now, it’s me­chan­i­cal. he doesn’t even bother to in­vent rea­sons for dis­lik­ing the tourist sights, in­clud­ing a rail­way staffed en­tirely by chil­dren — a youth project dreamed up by the com­mu­nists in the cold War years.

Just once, it might be fun if richard en­joyed some­thing. At least it would re­lieve the monotony, be­cause it must be dull to be that clever.

Chop­ping Block­HHIII LAST NIGHT’S TV CHRISTO­PHER STEVENS Travel Man

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