Is there any corner of British life that Simon Cowell is incapable of introducing hyper-competition and loadsa-money prizes?
Wednesday saw the first episode of Food Glorious Food, SyCo productions’ foray into cooking, and the beginning of its search for “Britain’s best recipe” to go into production at M&S.
On the face of it, it’s twee-er than most Cowell productions. Carol Vorderman presents. Visually there are hints of the Antiques Roadshow. One of the judges has an MBE. But look closer, and you see Cowell all over it.
The judges are introduced in the same hyperbolic style as The X Factor. Lloyd Grossman by saying: “having sold millions of jars of sauce I know what makes a successful product”. There is the trail of no-hopers and the same endless, misplaced self-confidence egged-on by the TV lens. It is like the bastard child of the X Factor and Fanny Craddock - Kitchen Magic.
Cowell's newest ruse is a global online talent hunt harnessing the power of YouTube, no less. Syco has teamed up with the video sharing site for The You Generation, a year-long contest launching in late March seeking out a new talent every fortnight via online auditions.
It makes you wonder what he might try next. Surely Crufts could be gingered up with a few grand and some tear-jearking back stories? Actually, he’s already done that – last year’s one-off That Dog Can Dance! presented by Christine Bleakley.
In that case, maybe the staid world of combine harvesting can be electrified by the presence of Cowell in a helicopter? Or perhaps he could Cowell up a daytime property show with a contest to see who can design the best living room (the winner gets to redecorate the Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. Maybe we should just televise Sats exams, throw in a 20 grand prize be done with it.