Host Gregg Wallace on what’s on the menu for this year’s Celebrity Masterchef
Celebrity Masterchef is an annual hit and reliable ratings winner. Unlike many of its reality show rivals, the BBC1 cookery competition sticks firmly to its original format, never resorting to spicing up the delicious recipe of judging stars’ cooking skills and eliminating them one by one.
‘All of the celebrities seem very surprised when they come on and just cook,’ laughs Gregg Wallace, who’s been hosting and judging the show with co-star John Torode since 2006. ‘They must think there’s unseen help off-camera.
‘I’ve been doing Masterchef for a long time now, and Celebrity Masterchef is always a favourite.
It’s great fun and also has a good reputation in the industry for looking after contestants – we never humiliate anyone. We don’t create drama for ratings. There’s a decency about the show, I think.’
The 12th series will again see a diverse mix of celebs in the kitchen. Putting on the famous Masterchef aprons this week are newsreader Julia Somerville, snooker legend Stephen Hendry, TV presenter Angellica Bell, comedian Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) and French tennis champion Henri Leconte.
Meanwhile, among the famous faces featured in later weeks are Outnumbered’s Tyger Drew-honey, and Gogglebox’s Rev Kate Bottley.
Here, in an exclusive chat with TV Times, Gregg reveals the secret ingredients to the show’s success…
What makes Celebrity Masterchef so special to you?
As the celebrities have experienced the limelight or worked on telly before, they’re rarely as scared as amateur contestants, who can become frozen to the spot or their hands shake uncontrollably. All you want from the celebrities in the early rounds is to show some decent, basic cookery skills!
What else gives the celebrity version an extra kick?
Two things always surprise me about Celebrity Masterchef: some
of these guys can really cook; and some of them can’t cook at all. I don’t know why this still astonishes me, but it does! Everyone realises very quickly that Masterchef is about cooking and that they can’t ‘celeb their way out of it’, as I call it! There’s no singing, joking or dancing their way out of the situation – although some do try!
Celebrity Masterchef attracts an amazing array of people. are you ever starstruck?
I love rugby, so when big Phil Vickery [former English rugby union player] came on in 2011 and won it, I was delighted. I was also like a little girl meeting the Spice Girls when Paul Young was on the first show in 2006 – I’m a big fan of his early band Q-tips. Over the years, John and I have become better known, so I feel more of an equal to them now. I don’t think they’re particularly starstruck by me; they’re more in awe of the competition. They would have seen the quality food the finalists produce in previous series!
What makes a winner?
It’s impossible to know when they walk through the door. Initially, all you want is simple, homely food, as you can build on that. Age doesn’t always equal experience. Some people come to cookery very late and there’s also the ‘old dogs, new tricks’ phenomenon. It can be much easier to teach people who haven’t picked up bad habits. I maintain that the winner of Masterchef is rarely the best cook at the start – it’s usually the person with the ability to learn very fast.
do you have a favourite round? Yes, when they cook their own food. It’s invariably better than what they’ve given us previously! I like that they cook in a restaurant kitchen – it’s the ultimate baptism of fire. They always come out with a new respect for professional chefs.
Finally, do you ever feel mischievous when it comes to mystery-box ingredients?
John and I don’t choose the ingredients, but the producers do ask us what we think of them. You don’t want to be too mischievous and throw them completely.
The winner of Celebrity Masterchef is rarely the best cook at the start GREGG wallace
food / 8.00pm / BBC1 We can imagine John Torode and Gregg Wallace taking a deep breath – and maybe a couple of indigestion tablets – before the start of the celebrity version of their show. In the ‘normal’ Masterchef there is usually a pretty high standard of cooking, but that isn’t always the case when the stars come into the kitchen! Tonight, however, the standard is generally pretty good. Stephen Hendry, Julia Somerville, Angellica Bell, Henri Leconte and Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) are tonight’s five stars. Their first challenge is the mystery box, followed by the heat and pressure of the professional kitchen and, finally, a chance to show off their finest two courses – in an hour!
Is Jim Moir getting saucy in the kitchen?