Lisa Markwell: If 'MasterChef' is on, who gives a fig for politics?

The show that can bring a country to a standstill

Share
Related Topics

I like
MasterChef as much as the next person. Well, perhaps a little bit more. Last year I, ahem, applied to be on the cookery competition TV show. The fact that I'm writing for this newspaper and not behind the stove at a bijou little eatery on the coast is enough to confirm that I was turned down. But I'm not bitter.

In fact, I've been glued to this week's celebrity spin-off, despite the fact that the contestants are not terribly famous, and that they appear to know nothing about food. When a veteran of Brookside correctly identifies one of the ingredients of an omelette as "egg" it's hard to maintain the will to live, never mind watch. More than four million of us tuned in to Thursday's opening episode, no doubt all screaming "Not burnt at all, you fool"! at the screen when former Dragon's Den judge Richard Farleigh wondered about his tempura, "I'm not sure how burnt people like them".

But our enthusiasm for their culinary fumblings is a mere snack, an amuse-bouche, compared with the full six-course-tasting-menu levels of adoration for MasterChef in Australia. Tonight, its amateur version reaches its climax with a fiercely fought cook-off between Adam Liaw and Callum Hann. Why should we care, apart from wondering whether, since we have Australian chef and worrywart John Torode, we're allowed to export Antony Worrall Thompson to them. It's also of concern if the finalists' signature dish is scallops with pea puree, as it is here. Surely there can't be enough bivalves left in the world ....

No, we care because the Australian government has moved a televised leaders' debate by an hour to avoid clashing with the MC finale. (It now clashes with Aussie Strictly, but who cares about that?) Yes, you read that correctly: a reality show about cooking is deemed more important than the real business of politics.

The general election in Australia takes place on 21 August; last week, Google reported that MasterChef was the subject of twice as many online searches as the political battle for dominance between the incumbent Julia Gillard and challenger Tony Abbott.

Apparently Gillard said she understood the MasterChef fans' dilemma. "I can understand the fascination with cooking and eating," she said. "I know many Australians will watch that show, but I think Australians will still pay some regard to the debate and to the election campaign and what's said in it."

Of course, what she should have said was ,"Politics doesn't get tougher than this!!!", and insisted on the pots and pans being put on hold for a day, but then who wants to be the politician who misreads the public mood?

The opportunity, surely, is for Julia and Tony to connect with the voters and popularise their policies by appearing as celebrity judges for the final on Sunday, and skipping the debate altogether. This could herald a new dawn in popular politics. (Vince Cable could follow their lead and finally get his Strictly moment.) Or perhaps they could invite the winner to cook a celebratory meal for whomever polls the most votes. Mind you, they might want to avoid the dish concocted by previous contestant Chris – beeramisu, a lager-y take on the classic Italian dish. Even from the nation that gave us Foster's, that's a culinary coalition too far.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Critics of Fiona Woolf say she should step down amid accusations of an establishment cover-up  

Fiona Woolf resignation: As soon as she became the story, she had to leave

James Ashton
 

Letters: Electorate should be given choice on drugs policy

Independent Voices
Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities