Daily Express

Forking out big dough

- Mike Ward

TUESDAY means it’s time for another edition of THE GREATEST AUCTION (Channel 4, 8pm), easily my favourite new show until I get bored with it, which I don’t think I will for a while.And you’ll never guess what they’re auctioning this week. Which is why I’m about to tell you.

What they’re auctioning is a pinball machine.And a chair.And a fork.

“Oh, dear,” I hear you sigh. “With all due respect, Mike, those items don’t sound particular­ly interestin­g. Not unless the pinball machine turns out to have been owned and, ideally, signed by... oh, I don’t know, maybe Elton John, on the basis that Elton played the character of the Pinball Wizard in director Ken Russell’s 1976 film Tommy, based on The Who’s rock opera album of the same name...”

In response to which, I’d have to concede that, no, it doesn’t quite fit that descriptio­n. Tommy came out in 1975. And the chair? Well, that’s certainly a chair with a bit of a history. I’ll say no more. Albeit mostly because I’m not that interested in it.

The fork, mind you, has arguably the best story of all, which, let’s be honest, is something you rarely get to say about an item of cutlery.

That’s because it was “liberated” from the palace of none other than Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Impressive, eh? Not to mention brave.

Have you ever seen what happens when a crazed dictator/ psychopath discovers that one of his forks has gone missing?

He gets really, really cross. Mind you, it’s nothing compared to the way he reacts when he finds out someone’s put the loo roll on the wrong way round.

Elsewhere, MASTERCHEF (BBC1, 9pm) moves into what it calls its Knockout Week, with 14 chefs still in contention. But hold on a moment, where on earth is judge Gregg Wallace? Is he stuck in traffic? Is he on strike?

No, he’s neither of those things. Poor Gregg is actually feeling a bit poorly, so that nice lady Anna Haugh (recently a judge on the profession­al version) has come off the subs’ bench to take his place (I think she’ll be operating mostly in central midfield.) Among tonight’s challenges, one bunch are asked to cook a dish they’d put on the menu of their own restaurant or pop-up.

That, or one they’d include in their cookbook if they ever got the chance to bring one out.

Me, given those options, I’d take the cookbook route – and then serve them something on toast.

Seriously, I’d like to see them argue with that.

Prue Leith, no less, brought out an entire cookbook last year, consisting entirely of toast based recipes.

I don’t remember anyone telling her off for that.

Not that personally I’d dare.

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