Tag Archives: Come Dine With Me

Come Dine With Me: More cross than dressing

You expect Come Dine With Me contestants to be vaguely (sometimes historically) familiar when it’s the Celebrity Charidee Specials, but it was a bit of a shocker when artist and illustrator Simon Drew rocked up in a series of most extraordinary outfits in an ordinary CDWM last night. He was a sweetheart, but it was one of the mad shows where they seem to have trawled some odd places in South Devon to find the contestants. Frankie seemed mostly sane. I largely liked American Tara, but I was a little disturbed by the later revelation of her vast number of, and sometimes homemade, tattoos. Peter Pyne was the most unpleasant of the lot. A man clearly not secure with himself and scoring zero on the emotional intelligence chart, he kicked off with a series of sexist, racist and generally pathetic jokes which alienated him from the rest of the group. Then, on his night, he decided to reveal ‘Patricia’, his transvestite self. Now, it has been my pleasure to know, enjoy the company of, and indeed fancy cross-dressing men (Eddie Izzard in drag, what a magnificent sight).   Continue reading


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Christmas food specials: Faux faux faux

We all know these devilish television people play tricks on us all the time. But some are frankly more successful than others, and pre-recorded Christmas food specials are, without fail, a tinsel-accessoried, atmosphere-free pile of crap. Other than the obvious seasonal continuity giveaway that everyone is dressed in t-shirts, it’s all the fake hearty cheeriness that gets on my tits. As do Nigella’s tits. She may be marvellous in many ways, but the faux parties on Nigella Kitchen are ghastly, and the Christmas ‘special’ was anything but.

I thought the dish of sausages in a hollowed out loaf of bread really quite pants. Even if intended for a festive canine gathering I’d still think it was joyless. Then, at the end of the programme, when all the ‘guests’ had left, she started winsomely nibbling the side of the whole leftover loaf as if this were a treat, and it became Homer Simpson/farcical. Maybe this is unfair because I’m not a lover of bread. If it had been a giant hollowed out roast potato, I’d have certainly understood stuffing my face with it, probably when the guests were still present.

Then on Channel 4, we had the flattest, dullest Come Dine With Me ever. Not even the voiceover by Dave Lamb could resuscitate this baby. Goldie has no concept of hosting, by which I mean, allowing other people to speak or initiating conversation not involving him, so that made for a hopeless night to be present at, and to watch. His ‘entertainment’ involved looking at his pet boa constrictor coil around his body, a snake which had apparently just bitten him. It was hard not to have some sympathy for the snake.

I’d have rather scraped my own nails down a blackboard than be at that gathering. Nobody knew who anyone was, or cared apparently. We had Janet Ellis from Blue Peter who came across like a school marm (Goldie did remember watching her, at what must have been the advanced age of 18, and viewed her as being like a ‘mum’ – which upset her a great deal, being only ten years his senior). Also present were Susie Amy, AKA Chardonnay from Footballers’ Wives and Tony ‘Show Me the Way to Amarillo’ Christie.

At one point, (and please note, we’re not fools, continuity people), we had Tony Christie doing a supposedly post-meal commentary somewhere with snow behind him. Didn’t work for me. It clearly took place months after the meal, because those lush, green front gardens that showed the guests arriving at each others houses, with reindeer lurking weirdly, were clearly not shot during winter months, even if the guests had been told to wear heavy coats to pretend it was cold. Continue reading

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I’m a Celebrity: fainting ninnies & lost sheep

There is so much to enjoy in this year’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. The silly, hand- waving, shrieking ninny that is Gillian ‘show me your poo’ McKeith being forced to do tasks. Two kick-ass older women in the form of Britt Ekland and Jenny Eclair. A really fine young woman, Stacey Solomon, fearlessly taking on Linford Christie for his outrageous chauvinism. Shaun Ryder snoozing on his hammock. I’m even drawn to Nigel Havers for combining sneering rudeness and über poshness with some aplomb.

There’s also the more vapid presence of centrefold Kayla, there for her bikini wearing skills presumably, and the irksome lost sheep, Lembit Opik. He is clearly in search of a new career, but after seeing him on Come Dine With Me (rubbish food, and entirely self deluded about it) and this, he’s not doing himself any favours. I wouldn’t employ him on a checkout. Nor is ‘Dr’ McKeith improving her popularity with the viewing public one iota. It’s beyond me why she agreed to do the programme in the first place. Has she never seen it? I wouldn’t want to be around those bugs (or other people) either, but then, even if I ever became a low level celeb, I’d know not put myself forward for a show like this.

She’s neurotic and silly, with a trait shared by Opik that I loathe most in people – a total lack of self awareness. I have no sympathy with her for being repeatedly voted for to do the bushtucker trial because she is such a total ‘mare in every sense. Serve her bloody right for sitting in hatchet faced judgement on so many people in her career. And the fact that, when she’s doing a task, she swoons every time like one of those fainting goats is beginning to make me think she fancies the chap that revives her.

But despite these gems, so far, there’s something missing in the programme. I think having male and female celebrities start off by being split into two camps (Bruce and Sheila) didn’t help, because it messed with the development of an interesting group dynamic. The memorable bits for me from past years are when the most unexpected relationships/friendships form (George ‘Mr Zulu’ Takei and Joe Swash, for example).

But there’s still time. And while we’re waiting, we can take bets on how long it will take before the rest of the camp cracks and eats Gillian McKeith.

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Come Dine With Me: Barking in Brighton

Jason Smith's Brighton Beach

Brighton was once described as a town that looked like it was ‘helping the police with their enquiries’. Well this is the first group of diners I’ve seen on Come Dine With Me that frankly didn’t need Dave Lamb narrating. They’re an odd lot, which is making it very entertaining viewing. So far this week it’s been like an Edinburgh Fringe performance.

None of the names are quite what you’d expect in Sheffield, say. The roll call includes: DJ Melody Kane (whose tweets I’ve been following, being quite local myself), ‘visual artist and rude food aficionardo’ Pasha du Valentine, transvestite Ana, Pie Club member Alistair, and belching expert and stand-up comic John.

Much to the annoyance of everyone else (especially Ana, but I’m with her on this) John takes his squeezy Helman’s mayonnaise to every dinner party. He also held a belching contest at his own retro 70s food night (as well as using loo roll for napkins). Alistair seems a good cook, other than having a nasty habit of trying his marinade by sticking his tongue into it (and it’s never encouraging to see someone gag after they’ve tasted their own food – I was shouting from the sofa -‘add salt and pepper you fool’).

Melody’s Caribbean food looked delicious, but it was her rum shots served in egg cups that amused me. I feel so old, using plain old glassware to get drunk. Melody was going for the CDWM ploy of ‘getting your guests so hammered they might love you’. Ana saw through this immediately, but since noone drinks her under the table, she just asked for another. I rather like Ana.

I was less impressed, on the next evening, at Melody’s last-minute professed food allergy to Alistair’s fruit cous-cous. Highly dodgy given that half the things she claimed to be sensitive to she’d served and eaten at her own meal (and if people genuinely have allergies, they should tell their hosts in advance. Call me Miss Manners, but honestly. The youth of today).

Melody and Pasha loathe each other’s guts and this antipathy got very much worse after Melody asked Pasha to remove her high-heeled boots before entering her house. I have some sympathy to delicate floor covering issues, but on balance think forcing people to remove shoes tends to make them feel very exposed and vulnerable, and if they don’t feel safe enough in your home to do it, you shouldn’t make them. Continue reading


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Big Brother: I knew I’d seen that hair before!

Bloody hell! Just realised, probably weeks after the rest of the world, that I’ve seen Big Brother’s strangely quiffed Ben on telly before. It was Celebrity Come Dine With Me, when Raef from the Apprentice was on it. Raef is another preposterously posh public school boy clearly accustomed to having staff clear up his muck and do his bidding. He and Ben between them make one perfect Bertie Wooster. It didn’t even occur to him on Come Dine With Me that he was cheating by having a butler and assorted other staff clear up after him. But as well as the domestic staff, in this instance, Ben appeared as his kitchen bitch. Was he once his fag at school? We should be told. Apparently, according to Raefy, who appeared on BBLB on Sunday, they are ‘mates’ and they regularly share clothes.

Raef was actually quite amusing in the face of hippy Lynne ‘reputed inspiration behind Ab Fab‘s Eddy’ Franks’ belly dancer. ‘Look at the bazookas on that’ were his words afterward gazing openly at them the whole time she was dancing. The odd thing is that Raef, like Ben, purports to be straight and go through the motions of being lecherous, yet are the least sexual straight men I’ve ever come across. When looking at or commenting on women they seem more like characters from Viz than studmuffins.

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(Celebrity) Come Dine With Me: snakes alive!

I watched Celebrity Come Dine with Me last night and the civilian version today, and I’m starting to think I’m hallucinating about them. I know Kim Woodburn is a gigantically camp flirt with such a sharp tongue she can sometimes seem like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, but did she really start drinking pink vodka out of a bottle in the Claire Sweeney’s house, smashed off her face? And this after talking about poo stripes on pants she’s cleaned?

It was her multiple and entirely unintelligible attempts to pronounce the word ‘mascarpone’ (‘mashcapooney’) that had me hiding behind a cushion gnawing on my own arm.

Her partner in grime on How Clean is Your House? Aggie MacKenzie has been on Celebrity Come Dine With Me before, cooking well and staying entirely coherent. Kim slagged Aggie off when she was on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here last year, which has led to me wondering what the real story of the relationship between those two is. Kim can be very rude. She was in the jungle and she was to Claire Sweeney last night. I thought Claire handled herself pretty well, all things considered. I’d have tipped her revolting looking sherry trifle over her head.

Kim’s food was impressive though. It was like something concocted by a Fanny Craddock after too many pink gins, no longer arsed to make anything fresh. Crazy seventies style chicken, all made out of packets and tins.  Cans of chicken soup for sauce. Tinned fruit, packet custard and sponges in the trifle. All served up in a ‘rented house’  which sadly took all the anticipation of her guests nosing into her knicker drawers out of the equation.

But Tom O Conner, despite his dreadful jokes, stole the night in terms of votes. Largely I think, because he’d not offended anyone, so his was the safe vote. It all goes to charity anyway of course, which makes it less personal.

But personal is very much how the civilian version can be, and it was horrible today. It had two of the most rude, graceless and unpleasant people I’ve ever seen on it plus a nice gentle guy, and a first night host who got horribly drunk (and I can’t blame her for that, given her guests). But bringing in her pet corn snake and putting it on the table with the dessert? That was just strange. Then it did a giant poo next to the pudding plate of the obnoxious guy. ‘Snakes only do that once a month’ she bleated, as if that made it acceptable. Barmy. 

Strangely they all decided to skip eating the creme caramel.

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Come Dine With Me: Slough of despair

So on the menu in this evening’s Slough-based Come Dine With Me we had a quick flash of pierced nipple from the self-confessed ‘rough tough sugar puff’ young DJ Tony. But only after heavy, and I fear, not entirely sober, heckling from the considerably older female co-contestants Helen and Sarah whilst Belgian Fred just looked on with a bemused expression. To nick Qwerty’s delightful expression, Tony is a man who is like cat-nip to the laydeez. Can’t see it myself, but then callow youth has never done it for me.

But the boy can cook, to be sure, despite having never hosted a dinner party before (he says). A melting and zingy Asian beef salad, an elegantly served baked sea bass with lemongrass risotto, finishing with a strange trifly type pud with the word ‘Don’ inexplicably in the title.

But how good the food is never really at the heart of CDWM. How bad it is, maybe. The point of the programme is to spot what things will go horribly wrong by listening to the hints in the thing of beauty that is Dave Lamb’s commentary. Much in the way we used to watch the opening shots of Casualty and try to guess who was going to imminently get struck down or collapse.

This week I’ve been struggling, because the contestants are too nice. You need at least one two-faced and vicious person, like the chap in glasses last week, who was nice as pie to everyone’s face (and about their pie) but slagged them off viciously to camera in the bedroom. And he won, I think. Those other contestants must have been spitting fish-bones watching it all, presumably months later.

But when I say nice, actually, first host, fitness instructor Helen was bloody annoying, even if everyone seemed to like her incessant, incoherent and infuriatingly upbeat babbling. I do so hate a Pollyanna, and she reminded me of a Duracell bunny on speed.

I don’t know who will win this week. It doesn’t really matter. It’s the muddles in the middle that make this show fun, and I’m hoping that the polite mask of Tony the Belgian, who secretly thinks English food is lousy, will slip and there’ll be a food fight at the very least. Because it’s no darn fun if they get along.

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Celebrity Come Dine With Me Christmas Special

I’m still not sure if I actually watched this programme or it was all an hallucination. I haven’t been well, mind, so I may have been feverish. David Gest’s apparently red-carpet-topped yet still balding head really didn’t help matters. Did he really have a dwarf Mrs Claus or two in his house? And Mickey Rooney and wife? That didn’t happen, did it?

Along with millions of others, as a general rule, I love CDWM. Not sure adding Celebs improves the formula (except when Christopher Biggins was on it, because he was a) a great host and b) hilarious), but at least we get a peek inside their houses (or do we? I did begin to wonder about that when telly gardener Diarmuid Gavin had real reindeer parked in his alley. Who really has a house in London with an ‘alley’ that’s large enough to have  a couple of reindeer hanging out in?).

But how well the programme works, Celebs or not, depends on the behaviour of the guests and how they interact with each other, and this episode felt chillier than a snowball,  and madder than a March hare filmed several months in advance. My award for most rude, stupid and annoying guest goes to Sherrie ‘Loose Women’ Hewson, who did not seem to have guessed from the title of the programme that she may have to actually eat food prepared by other people. Allergic to shellfish? That’s fine. But then, when served broccoli and Stilton soup by an increasingly irked Hannah (Mrs Strictly/Ricky Groves) Waterman, she announced she didn’t like that either, and so it went on. Miss Manners she aint, and by the time it got to her night, her co-celebs rebelled, and led on by that naughty leprechaun, Diarmuid, nipped off down the pub whilst she slaved over the turkey dinner. But since she’d served them preserved strawberries with Yorkshire pudding as a starter, I don’t blame them for trying to break free. The best part of her night was when she dropped the Christmas pudding. No, that’s not right. The best part of the night was her getting herself dolled up in a glam Mrs Claus outfit, then realising she had made all her guests wear costumes that made them look stupid (eg Hannah Waterman, who has publically lost a couple of stone and so might be a bit sensitive, given a humiliatingly grim Christmas tree outfit; David Gest as an elf). And giving 34 year old Hannah a book on the menopause was nasty bit of work too.

I suppose the one favour the programme did the rest of us is that it makes our own, weird dysfunctional family Christmas meals seem, well, quite normal really. And the whole bizarre programme was held together, as ever, beautifully by Dave Lamb. A man I’d welcome round my table anytime, so long as he didn’t comment on it afterwards. Because if he did, I’d have to kill him.

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