TV UK, 26 May
Gordon Ramsay 'Galloways' another intake of dopey chefs.
First, a word on television etiquette. Television can be watched at home, either alone or with friends, or it can be watched in pubs with large groups in the case of sporting events. In that latter case, however, it is important to go to a pub where everyone is watching the game. If you are a group of four or five fans in a pub full of indifferent drinkers, it just doesn’t do to behave as if you’re at the game itself, jumping around and singing, ‘When the Reds go marching in’. You just look stupid.
I refer, of course, to last night’s bizarre European cup final, and the behaviour of some suspiciously unpractised-looking Liverpool fans in a London pub. I will leave it to others to comment on the game itself; I will merely observe that following the comical and hugely satisfying turnaround in the last five minutes of the Scottish league championship race on Sunday, the world is beginning to feel like an episode of Dr Who in which someone has gone back to 1966 to change the linesman’s decision about the ball crossing the line, and thus sent anomalous ripples through the history of football.
It’s not that implausible a storyline. At the risk of straying into Sandy Starr territory, I must note that the new series shows a disturbing fixation with planet Earth, and indeed new assistant Rose Tyler’s mum. It must be symbolic of a conservative cultural shift that Rose and the Doctor can travel anywhere through time and the universe saving the day, but always seem to end up home in time for, say, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
The new series (Channel 4, Tuesdays at 9pm) began with a new incarnation of the now familiar hopeless prat in an apron being Gallowayed by the fiery Ramsay. The failing chef in question had learned everything he knew, which largely involved heating up ‘plastic sauces’ in the microwave, from a local Italian taxi driver, while his best mate and maîtr d’ lacked both presence and the gumption not to book in 40 people to arrive at the restaurant at the same time, so it was down to Ramsay to bully them into competence.
Knowing what we do about how reality shows like this are cast and semi-staged, it would be a mistake to take the programme at all seriously. Instead, one can merely enjoy the set pieces, like the blind tasting in which, asked to choose some pasta to go with the swordfish, both chef and maîtr d’ opted for the curry flavour Pot Noodle.
This comic aspect puts Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares at the less objectionable end of a more poisonous genre in which the general public is shown to be incapable of cooking, washing, bringing up children or watching football in the pub without the assistance of larger-than-life mentors. When it stops being a joke, it stops being funny. Since when was television an arm of the enabling state? Something is wrong here, and only Rose Tyler can put it right.
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