Alexei Sayle: 'Fess Up, Gordon, Or I Get Nasty

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Indy Lifestyle Online

On the digital channel More4 they show these little mini programmes called interstitials that fill up the space in between longer programmes. Another term for these short films is bumpers.

These bumpers feature interviews with actors and presenters who appear on the channel answering a single question such as "What makes you feel guilty?", "What's the best way to your heart?" and "What was your happiest moment?" A lot of the answers, especially those given by the American actors, are very funny. For instance Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives, when answering the happiest moment question, says, "When I got married... then when I got divorced."

One person, however, who, I suppose in accord with his controlling yet publicity-hungry nature, is very guarded in his replies and gives incredibly bland and cagey answers, is the TV chef Gordon Ramsay. Mostly Ramsay's dull and evasive responses revolve around food, except in the sequence which concerns what was each performer's first car. Richard Schiff, the actor who plays Toby in The West Wing, says his first car was the same as mine - a Fiat 128; Marianne Jean-Baptiste of Without a Trace says a Datsun Sunny called Maude, but Ramsay says his first car was a "Ford Princess". Now here's the thing - there never ever was a car called a Ford Princess! So why does he say it?

I might have left it at that, a mystery that briefly crossed my brain then disappeared, except for the fact that these interstitials are endlessly repeated day and night on More4 which, for a man who watches as much TV as I do, can, after a while, cause side effects. For instance, at first I smiled in an indulgent way when Marianne Jean-Baptiste said her first car was called Maude, then, after I'd seen her say the same thing 50 times I started to laugh hysterically at the remark and now when her bumper comes on I weep uncontrollably even before she's started speaking.

Despite this, it is the mystery of Gordon Ramsay's non-existent Ford Princess that weighs most heavily on my mind. Each time he wrongly says what his first car was I become more and more obsessed with trying to find the reason why he's saying it. I don't believe the obvious explanation that it is a simple mistake, because a man who is as controlling as he is never makes mistakes, so why would he do so here? Perhaps it is some sort of code, a signal to dark forces we know nothing about? Or is our foremost telly chef hiding something? Can Ramsay's terrible secret be that he is really 90 years old and his first car was a King Tiger Panzer which he drove when he was in the German Liebstandarte Division of the SS invading Russia during Operation Barbarossa?

So what I plan to do is open a restaurant on the site of my imaginary sandwich bar which is so bad that it will qualify to be on the new series of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

Naturally, me and him will spend a lot of time together. I'll work my way into his confidence and then, when we are friends, I'll quietly ask him what his first car was, and if he says Ford Princess I'll stab him.

motoring@independent.co.uk

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