Daily Express

Tilly turns up the heat

- Mike Ward

CAN you imagine a modern-day MasterChef without Gregg or John? No need. It already exists. Several times over, in fact. MasterChef may be a proudly British invention – like the phone, the jet engine, the Sinclair C5 and sarcasm – but recent years have seen MasterChef­s popping up all over, from MasterChef Mexico to MasterChef Italia to Sweden’s Sveriges Mästerkock, no less.

It’s just we rarely hear about these shows.We do, however, get a regular chance to watch Australia’s version, if we so wish, because they show it here on our digital channel W. And since tonight sees the start of its latest series, what better time to take a look, once you’ve figured out where the hellW is on your telly. (It was Freeview 25 the last time I checked, if that helps).

Better still, this new series, showing weeknights at 7pm, is MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA CELEBRITY. How exciting.

Usually when faced with a show with “celebrity” in its title, my spirits plummet, knowing I’ll need to trawl through Wikipedia, trying to find out what in heaven’s name most of its famous participan­ts are famous for, so that when I finally sit down and start tapping away at my laptop I can sound like I’ve known all along.

With Australian celebs I feel no such burden of expectatio­n.

Rebecca Gibney? Matt Le Nevez? Absolutely no idea who these people are.

Nick Riewoldt? Archie Thompson? Haven’t a clue.

I can’t begin to tell you the relief. Here’s a celebrity cooking show I can enjoy on face value, without any preconceiv­ed notions about the contestant­s.

Well, except for a couple of cases. One of them is Ian Thorpe, who I do know is an Australian chap who swims jolly fast.

I doubt I’ll root for him because, with respect, people who swim jolly fast are jolly annoying, especially when they do the backstroke, when they can’t possibly see where the blazes they’re going and the rest of us in the pool are expected to pull over and clear the way for them and they don’t even say “excuse me” or “thank you” or “yes, I really am horrendous­ly selfish, now you mention it…”

There’s him and there’s Tilly Ramsay. I’ve heard of her as well. She was on Strictly.The other participan­ts have clearly heard of her, too, because her arrival in the kitchen brings a notable change in the mood.

“Gordon Ramsay’s dorr-da!” gasps a chap who apparently used to play profession­al football.

“The competitio­n just gotta lot more serious,” exclaims another, who apparently played the Australian Rules version where they just slam into one another.

“Culinary royalty!” insists a lady DJ, that I’m not aware has played either sport.

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