What was good about it?
• James Corden was in the restaurant, charming and funny as usual, along with his family. Dang that man looks like his Mum. James trying Chinese delicacies (chicken’s feet! Well I never) was less successful, but you can’t help warming to the guy.
• Ramsay’s hilarious voiceover that spat out ingredients and instructions as if he was describing the elements of a new action film in an over-the-top trailer: “Five Spice!… Paprika!… Salt!… Pepper!… Roll!… Hot pan!… Olive Oil!… Baste!… Rest!” Yeah, OK, Gordon, you’re cooking a bit of fish not making Terminator 4. It was so lacking in self-awareness that it was actually a thing of beauty. And of course, yes, we did then go to the website to download the recipe, we are nothing if not hypocritical.
• The dive off the coast of Ireland for sea urchins was interesting, even if Gordon did ham up the danger as much as he could. If it was that dangerous we doubt the insurance would have covered it, Gordy.
• You have to admire the programme as a real triumph of style. There’s really not much to it – a clan made up of a couple of celebs (this week Wendi Peters out of Corrie and her sister who’s in Shameless) make food in a kitchen for 50 people, some of whom are well known. That’s it. Yet somehow Gordon’s mania and the photography’s corresponding refusal to settle anywhere for more than 0.5 of a second (the director grew up on a diet of NYPD Blue, clearly) carries it through to a full hour.
• Wendi’s husband Kenny was agreeably useless in the kitchen, even starting a small fire at one point.
What was bad about it?
• An early dig at fat chefs in the opening montage was in-keeping with Ramsay’s laddish, insulting humour, but while such a barb may be fair to level against Worrall-Thompson, it is harsh on the bumptious James Martin, who is big rather than fat, and a bit nasty when aimed at the wonderfully proportioned Nigella Lawson. This comes from a man with nan’s hair, remember.
• Oh God. Geri Halliwell. From her love of being a children’s writer (of course, her children’s writing has everything to do with her skill as a writer and nothing to do with her fame – I feel sorry for kids who are constantly bombarded with books by the famous who realise they are not smart enough to write for adults and so patronisingly believe their ‘imaginations’ will be good enough for kids), to her awful looking meat-balls, to her explanation of how she beat bulimia (“I was just really open and honest about it.” OK, then), she was profoundly irritating. Even worse was the way Gordon, quite happy to slag off his diners with his ‘wit’ (that’s just insults and swearing to you and me) melted in her presence and spent the few minutes with her giggling and flirting and doing yoga on the kitchen floor like a 14-year-old in love with his older sister’s best friend.
• The fast pace of the kitchen contrasted with the slow-down of Janet Street Porter buying calves for veal. Mmm. Of course, the show called ‘The F Word’, which features its star saying ‘fuck’ all the time, naturally grew all squeamish when it came to cows, whose genitals where referred to in text on screen as “Bits”. Grow up.
• Gordon’s voiceover during this section grew tiresome with his references to Janet’s age and with his cumbersome cow puns.