REVIEWS THE BIG FAMILY COOKING SHOWDOWN
DO not forsake the seasoning oh my darlin’. Any way you slice the carrots there was a touch of High Noon about The Big Family Cooking Showdown (BBC Two, Tuesday, 8pm). Coming down the tracks at the end of the month to start its new life on Channel 4 is former BBC hit Great British Bake Off, and who better to be waiting to meet the varmints than Nadiya Hussain, former Bake Off winner, and Zoe Ball, host of Strictly’s It Takes Two.
Over 12 weeks, 16 family teams from across the UK will compete to impress judges Rosemary Shrager and Giorgio Locatelli. First up were the Marks from London, who specialised in Swedish cuisine, and the Charles clan from Yorkshire, who travelled a lot and could pretty much turn their hand to anything. Even their risotto pleased Giorgio.
Therein lay the trouble. Here was an hour of nice people making nice food and being nice to each other, which is a difficult dish to pull off without boring viewers to the point of gnawing off their own limbs. There was no stress, no swearing, no threats to cut so and so out of the will. In short, nothing like family cooking at all.
As for High Noon, consider it cancelled. Shortly after the first programme aired, the BBC said Nadiya, Zoe and company would be moving to a Thursday slot to prevent a clash with the new Bake Off. When it comes to a showdown the Showdown has blinked first. Gary Cooper would never have done that, ladies.
Connor Newall doesn’t have to cook his own dinners. If this young Glaswegian wants grub he orders room service. Such is the jetset life of Scotland’s Model Teenager (BBC One, Monday, 7.30pm). Since being spotted during a casting call for a film about knife crime, the Govan lad has become one of the hottest modelling properties in the world. “The sweetest boy with a bad boy face,” was one designer’s attempt to sum up his chiselled appeal. “He’s beautiful and ugly and crazy looking and angelic looking,” said an agent. In plain English, Connor takes a nice photie.
One would have worried about the lad swimming in the shark-infested waters of fashion, but Connor’s family, and in particular his mum Betty, were doing a great job of keeping him anchored.
“Conny, you better get up and get packed for Madrid. Now!” was one of Betty’s many pieces of advice. Every boy should have a Betty. Great story, but nobody broached the subject of how much the youngster was earning. Wasn’t this what we all wanted to know? EasyJet: Inside the Cockpit (STV, Monday, 9pm) had no such squeamishness. As this look at the lives of trainee pilots disclosed, it costs £120,000 for the two-year course, after which the young pilots start on £40k. See, that wasn’t hard, was it? To a man and the occasional woman the selected “stars” from the 300 annual recruits were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, precisely the sort you want to ferry you on the 07.05 to Stansted.
But will there be enough drama here to sustain three parts? One awaits a character emerging or a brush with disaster, like cabin crew discovering at 36,000ft that someone has forgotten to load the breakfast panini.
Such a crisis would be nothing to Ravn Eikanger, the doctor at the heart of Norwegian crime drama Valkyrien (Channel 4, Sunday, 9pm). Replacing The Handmaid’s Tale as the channel’s big Sunday night offering, this tale of a medic making money from treating criminals off the books has a lot to live up to, and I am not sure on the evidence of this first episode whether it has the juice to do so. The concept has a whiff of Breaking Bad familiarity about it, and there is nothing about the drab characters so far to make one want to spend time with them. Still, like bacteria in a petri dish it might grow on us.
I stumbled across People Just Do Nothing (BBC Three, on demand) while browsing on iPlayer one Saturday afternoon, and it has become quite my favourite comedy of recent times. Delighted, then, to see it back for a fourth series and to note that Bafta shares the viewers’ enthusiasm and has bunged it a couple of awards.
On paper, a mockumentary about a pirate radio station, Karupt FM, run by norf Lahndon numpties, doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that would set my turntable spinning, but such is the quality of the writing it is a pleasure to spend time with MC Grindah, DJ Beats, Chabuddy G and the rest of the crew. In this series, Grindah has gone off the rails while his ex-girlfriend Miche has taken up modelling, having her picture taken by a photographer who usually shoots bathroom suites. It’s that kind of show.
After the first episode of The Big Family Cooking Showdown, the BBC announced the show would be moving from Tuesday to Thursday to avoid a clash with the new Great British Bake Off on Channel 4