The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Gordon the tough guy? That’s a bit hard to swallow
In a bulletproof vest with armed ‘policia’ back-up, Ramsay takes on Colombia’s drug gangs. The mean streets of Bogota? No, Wimbledon!
WEARING mud-splattered combat trousers and flanked by gun-toting police officers, ‘hard-man’ chef Gordon Ramsay appears to be deep in bandit country for his new documentary series investigating Colombia’s drug cartels.
But the Johnstone-born star – who made his name for fearless confrontations on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – was more likely to stumble across a Womble than a gang member as the ‘treacherous jungle’ used for filming a week ago was actually woodland on Wimbledon Common.
It was certainly safer than filming in the South American jungle – in Colombia, the lucrative cocaine trade has cost 20,000 lives over the past 30 years.
Instead, dog walkers and families looked on as Ramsay arrived for the shoot at the Common’s genteel Windmill Tearooms. Inside a trailer, Ramsay donned black combat trousers, a white T-shirt and a flak vest and then a make-up artist applied ‘mud’ with a paintbrush and gave his hair a rough-and-ready makeover.
He was then filmed being driven in the back of a military-style Land Rover bearing the words POLICIA – Spanish for ‘police’, the language spoken in Colombia.
Two men carrying fake rifles dressed in black baseball caps, bulletproof vests and combat trousers – identical to Colombian police uniforms – drove behind in a second Land Rover as if escorting the star through a jungle teeming with guerrilla militias.
Last night, ITV insisted the Wimbledon footage was only intended for use as a trailer and that Ramsay completed filming the documentook tary in Colombia earlier this year. So did fearless Gordon really put himself in harm’s way in the Colombian jungle? Strangely, neither ITV nor Ramsay’s spokesman were willing to say more.
But Ramsay certainly suggested that was his intention when he told The Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine earlier this year that he was heading to the South American country to make the two-part primetime documentary, which will be screened in the autumn.
‘I’ve been in a safety briefing all morning for something pretty hostile – we’re going into Colombia,’ he said. ‘They’re putting me under a trauma test for the sake of being shot and being kidnapped.’
Our inquiries have revealed that whatever hardships he may have endured, Gordon had time to visit the Criterion restaurant in Colombia’s capital Bogota, run by celebrated local chef Jorge Rausch. He photographs with Rausch and other chefs, which Rausch posted on Twitter. Rausch said: ‘He just stopped by in Bogota for one night. He came to make a documentary somewhere in Colombia but it was a secret. We talked about many things but not about that.’
Meanwhile, the Wimbledon trailer may attract the attention of TV regulator Ofcom, whose rules state: ‘Factual programmes... or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience.’
An ITV spokesman said: ‘This was filming for a conceptual marketing trail, not for a documentary.’
Make-up artist painted ‘mud’ on Gordon’s face