You have to have a big appetite for superlatives if you're to consume an entire MasterChef final.
In fact, a funnel would come in handy sometimes, like they use on foie gras geese. You end up glutted with overheard praise, so bloated with artificial rapture and foodie ecstasy that you feel, like Mr Creosote in the Monty Python sketch, that you might actually explode if John Torode or Gregg Wallace add even one wafer-thin extra compliment to the groaning buffet of admiration they've just served up. It's because it's the last show I guess. There's not really any more mileage in constructive criticism and though it's useful to have a hint of qualification here and there to justify the judge's final choice you also have to ensure that everyone leaves with their heads held high.
Knowing students of form would have put a big bet on Shelina Permalloo a while ago. "I don't think she's just trying to win MasterChef," Wallace said when she unveiled her final menu of Mauritian octopus salad, mutton curry and mango cannelloni. "She wants to marry me." Judging from his reaction to her food in recent weeks he wouldn't say no if she asked, but it wasn't just that she appeared to already have one of the judges in the bag before the final began. Nobody could seem to think of a way to spin the tension out for her. Tom's timing was an issue that could be talked up in the preamble, and Andrew's fatal tendency to over-complicate his dishes (which sunk him after he'd decided that it was time to correct the world's wilful conviction that lobster and strawberry isn't a happy marriage). But Shelina almost never looked ruffled or unsettled.
While they played the sort of music that accompanies the reunion of a boy with his long-lost horse, we were made to wait for the final announcement. Shelina had the grace to look astonished, but I don't think anyone else was.