Deborah Ross: 'When Tim from 'MasterChef' is at the day job, is he thinking, 'I wish I were at home working on my redcurrant jus'?'

Saturday 24 April 2010 00:00
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If you ask me which, in and of itself is kind of weird – don't you have anyone else to ask?; have you ever thought about making some friends of your own? – the most annoying thing about TV is how almost every factual entertainment programme now spends so long previewing what is coming up after the break and then, after the break, spends so long reviewing what came before the break that, caught in the pincer between what has happened and what will happen, almost nothing is ever actually happening right at this minute.

Now, I do accept that it's not the most annoying thing ever. Being asked if you have a Nectar card is more annoying. (Do I look like the sort of person who is collecting points towards a free glass of wine at a Berni Inn?) But it's annoying all the same, and seems to mostly afflict that genre known as "competitive cooking", which may or may not be superseded by "competitive laundering". ("We know Diana can be tough on stains, but can she be sufficiently kind when it comes to delicates?")

It afflicts Michael Winner's Dining Stars, Come Dine With Me, and even the BBC's MasterChef, which has no commercials, but is still always madly busy previewing and reviewing itself. I only got through the last series by endlessly musing on one of the contestants, Tim. He was the one billed as "the children's doctor" – do they think we don't understand "paediatrician"?; would a gynaecologist have been billed as "the down there doctor"? – and my musing on Tim went as follows: when he's at the day job, and supervising little Emily's bone marrow transplant, is he thinking: "I wish I could do something fulfilling with my life. I wish I were at home working on my redcurrant jus." I would like to see one of the contestants come up with something different, like a wandering jus, or any kind of sauce cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. Wouldn't that be neat? Or, as John and Greg would put it: "Tim didn't do so well with his last wandering jus which, alas, simply stayed put but, later in the programme, we'll see if he can finally get it to wander a bit." Nope, none of it is ever happening now.

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