Ramsay's insults give way to clichés in a sickly final helping

Last Night: Hell's Kitchen, ITV1
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The Independent Online

Dog's bollocks don't generally come as a trio but that, in Gordon Ramsay's view, was the only way to describe the three celebrity chefs who had made it to the final of Hell's Kitchen.

Dog's bollocks don't generally come as a trio but that, in Gordon Ramsay's view, was the only way to describe the three celebrity chefs who had made it to the final of Hell's Kitchen.

A little over an hour later there was only one "bollock" left, Matt Goss and James Dreyfus having been dispatched to leave Jen Ellison as the winner of ITV's high thermal-output reality show.

Like every other programme in the series the final episode was a fricassee of reheated morsels from the previous day's filming, heavily sauced with triumphal clichés ("It's been a journey" narrowly nudging out "It's been a roller coaster" as the celebrity truism of the night) and pungent insults from Ramsay about his fellow professionals. Antony Worrall Thompson was described as "a squashed Bee Gee", two of his companions as "chefs who couldn't even run a bath, and Aldo Zilli as a "glorified waiter". Nothing on the final night quite matched the piquant glories of Ramsay's head-to-head with Edwina Currie. "One minute you're shagging our prime minister", he had bellowed after she failed to deliver her special of the night, "and now you're shagging me from behind". But in any case we were on to the sweet course by now, all those involved falling over themselves to sing each other's praises.

According to Ramsay, Ellison - previously best known for a role on Brookside - was not just the most popular participant with the viewing public but also the best chef. This must have come as a surprise to Ellison who greeted the announcement of her win with a shriek that could tenderise stewing steak and the words: "I can't even cook."

Ramsay, by common consent, was a genius and his two assistant mentors Ange (Angela Hartnett) and Sarge (Mark Sergeant) were guardian angels in chefs' toques. Dreyfus, Ellison and Goss all but announced a three-way engagement, so effusive were they about each other's virtues as human beings, kitchen comedians and team members. After 13 days of sour and tongue-blistering flavours, it was as emollient and soothing as a trembling panna cotta.

There was just one thing that left a nasty taste in the mouth, though it wasn't actually in this final programme but in the way it went with what followed - Trevor McDonald's ITN news bulletin from the beaches of Normandy. Suddenly all that talk of "survival", of "the most difficult task you've ever been faced with" - the effusions of self-congratulation and tearful confessions of pride - fell into their proper, tawdry perspective. The schedulers for ITN must have known for months that this entirely synthetic moment of victory would fall on the day of the D-Day commemorations. They must have wondered whether it would really be fitting; whether they should perhaps reschedule and pull out the stops to produce a slightly more contemplative representation of our preserved liberties.

And then they thought - as Gordon Ramsay might put it - "No, fuck it. Let's go ahead anyway. D-Day can wait."

Thomas Sutcliffe

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