Tag Archives: Dave Lamb

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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Come Dine With Me: Royal Wedding Special

I like Come Dine With Me as a rule, but the ‘specials’ are generally a bit strange and unsatisfactory and the Royal Wedding Special was no exception. Celebrity Specials have had their good moments (Christopher Biggins and his Waitrose-own pate cheating was excellent), but also some seriously weird shit (John Fashanu and Michael Barrymore both made me shudder, for different reasons).

So I’m writing about the Royal Wedding show, not, to be clear, because I give a rat’s arse about the monarchy or the ghastly, overwrought public spectacle that comprise most matrimonial carryings on, but rather because one of the contestants lives up the road from me. As a consequence of this, I interviewed Dave Lamb about it for a local magazine, since he lives conveniently nearby – and discovered that he is both utterly unassuming and entirely lovely. But since he has nothing to do with the putting together of the shows, I feel at perfect liberty slagging this programme off.      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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Four in a Bed: Bare knuckle pillow fights

This is a new variant on Three in a Bed, a show where B&B owners go visit each other and reveal themselves to be throughly unpleasant individuals, which I wrote about variously here and here.

I pointed out that, although there are some good people running terrific bed and breakfasts in existence, there are also a bunch of psychologically not- right folk being proudly passive-aggressive towards their guests over poached eggs and laminated ‘Notices’ telling you where to put your shower curtain.

I also said that the voting system in the programme was hugely unfair, because couples going first and second saw how the others scored. It also needed an amusing, wry voiceover à la Dave Lamb.

I should be a telly consultant. Or perhaps not. Because Channel Four have now brought out the weeknightly Four in a Bed at the 5.30pm slot, which as you may have guessed, includes an extra couple. There is also a different, slightly fairer, voting system and a better voiceover. And it’s still a bloody nightmare. The lot on this week are shockers. Sniffing drains. Horribly, unpleasantly competitive. Endless whinging about the temperature of plates, the state of the eggs, sugar on raspberries, the list goes on and on.

Message to you stupid people: you can run your own guesthouses any way you like, and customers can choose to return or not. That’s capitalism in action. But if you go to someone else’s place, have some bloody manners, be a little gracious, behave with decency, humility and the emotional intelligence of a creature higher on the evolutionary scale than a slug.

And hosting B&B owners – your guests will sometimes *be* nitpicking fools. Ignore them politely and they will be gone soon. No need for such puerile bad manners.

Why any of these people put themselves in front of cameras to reveal themselves to be such nasty, bitchy, manipulative rotters I cannot imagine. Gobsmacking lack of self-awareness? Vastly inflated and delusional self belief? The only person I actually warmed to was Lou, partner of Paul, whose bed and breakfast is in Bridlington.

But no one watches these shows to rate B&Bs you say, and you may be right. If you enjoy watching humanity at its shallow worst, this is the programme for you.

It’s hotels or camping for me from now on. I dare not risk running into any of this lot.

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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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Celebrity Come Dine With Me: Footballers

Was this a wind up? Did I dream it? It was quite the strangest Come Dine With Me I’ve seen, and lord, there have been some odd shows and even odder contestants. The food was universally the worst I’ve ever seen. A horror show of bad cooking from men who clearly never cook (and with wives who are younger, slimmer and prettier than them). It was the day spaghetti bolognese (which even done well, makes any self-respecting Italian wince) died and went to hell.

The show kicked off with a naked, quite large, ex-footballer (Neil Ruddock) opening the door to John Fashanu, wearing a butchers’ apron and a smile. He had gone to some trouble to make a vinaigrette, (although pronouncing it was another thing altogether) to be served on avocado halves. Then he ignored it and just poured Sarson’s neat vinegar on instead. My mouth puckered up in pain involuntarily. Elizabeth David was turning on a spit in her grave.

But even in this crucible of food horrors, I learnt a few things, but none of them related to anything edible. John Fashanu is not, apparently, a very nice man. Bitchy about Ruddock’s increased girth since giving up playing the beautiful game. Full of himself for no apparent reason, with a belief in his cooking abilities not born out by his mediocre food. On his evening, he said he didn’t drink, but was sipping pudding wine in the kitchen, then he served room temperature white wine to his guests, then later, for no apparent reason, chilled red. Alice Through the Wine Merchant’s Looking Glass.

The amusing/ironic voiceover from Dave Lamb was superfluous for once. You just needed to watch and gawp. In the previous World Cup special, we’d seen the lives and homes of the immaculate and contemporary young WAGs (who admittedly couldn’t cook for toffee either, except when it was toffee from condensed milk). I hope they watched this and saw their future. Get yourselves a decent career is my advice. Watch Karren Brady and learn. Don’t hitch yourself to the career footballer bandwagon, else you too could end up housekeeper to one of this lot in twenty years time.

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Celebrity Come Dine With Me WAGs special

I loved watching the bitching, scheming and backbiting of Footballers’ Wives, and used to mock, with smug middle-class disdain, the bling-tastically tacky houses. But I didn’t really think they were supposed to be a realistic portrayal. After watching the WAGs special of Celebrity Come Dine With Me, I realise I was a little hasty. For sure, Nicola T’s house looks more normal, but then she’s married to a Division 2 player. But in the other houses, we got a pop-up television in the bedroom covered in plush purple velvet, corrugated iron 3D wallpaper and a vast Bond-esque fish tank. Fantastic.

And what made me smile most (for some reason) was the fancy shaped, white square tableware and accessories, such as dinky little matching jugs. You get these on MasterChef when they are testing if contestants know how to present posh food.

But here, what we got plonked in it from the acidic Jude was Angel Delight (‘Delice d’Ange’). It was supposed to have been white chocolate fondue, but that went into a hard sticky mess. Served with the ‘Delice’ were chopped up pieces of exotic fruits, like passion fruit (which she herself described as looking like snot) and physalis (‘sounds like syphilis doesn’t it?). I didn’t like Jude one bit. She seemed to possess a vastly over-inflated opinion of herself, and came across as bitchy, snobby and dishonest. She served up ‘papaya salad’ with her Thai fishcakes (pronounced ‘thigh’ by one of her guests) which was actually cucumber – then blatantly lied about it.

Shots from her Hello! wedding were blown up on the wall and the guests asked why she’d done it. “It was the most wonderful day of my life and I wanted to share it with the world!” I was looking for smoke emerging from her pants at that point.

Luckily, and it was a wise choice by the producer, ex-page 3 model and Celeb BB contestant, Nicola T, was also present. “If I did it, it would be for the money” she said. Nikki is an excellent under-cutter of lies and self-delusion. I loved that for her night she asked them all to dress as fairies, which Jude hated. Even better, I love it that she won.

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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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Coach Trip: Are we there yet?

There is, for me, no deeper circle of hell than the idea of being stuck on an endless coach trip with strangers and a relentlessly cheery tour guide. Day in/day out of hours sniffing that particular odd upholstery smell that will for ever remind me of school day trips and being sick. That weird intimacy of everyone using the on-board toilet, or stopping every three hours to shuffle off to a municiple roadside toilet block. Daily packing and unpacking suitcases, staying in cheap hotels, enforced jolly day trips and group activities. I’d rather be in Bedlam.

Coach Trip is not a new programme, but a new series has just begun on Channel Four at 5pm weekdays. I’m pleased about this, because when I’ve described it to people, they think I’m making it up. But actually, when you know it’s an Endemol creation, it suddenly makes sense.

The set-up is that you begin with a group of total strangers. All are couples of various sorts. You get old retired folk, young unemployed people, students. They might be friends, partners or husband and wife. They are taken on an endless (50 days actually, but it does seem endless) coach tour around Europe by driver Brendan, a cheerful chap (he needs to be) who wears distinctive glasses.

I haven’t yet figured out how anyone does their laundry. But this is not a programme where anyone is stylish. A tracksuit or variant on M&S leisure wear for the over 30s. Jeans and t shirts for the under 30s.

At the end of every day, usually after a group trip or activity, every couple votes for the pair they want voted off. This takes place in front of everyone else, and they have to give a reason. Whoever they pick can answer back. It is never pretty. Frankly, if there was a spin-off series of Midsomer Murders on Coach Trip, it would come as no surprise to me.

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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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