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Gregg Wallace broke the cardinal rule of celebrity puff pieces – he was too honest

As the MasterChef presenter’s ‘perfect Saturday’ goes viral for all the wrong reasons, one question remains: did he massage the truth about his average weekend to sound more interesting – or is it that readers aren’t used to famous people being quite so open?

Ryan Coogan
Wednesday 07 February 2024 15:34 GMT
Mark Wahlberg posts video after one of his 4am workouts

I don’t understand the celebrity obsession with being “just like the rest of us”. I don’t want celebrities to be just like me. I’m awful.

I don’t want to know if Tom Cruise can’t digest dairy. Don’t tell me Emma Stone’s opinions about the latest season of True Detective. I want my celebrities to be ethereal beings of pure heavenly light, not “just a bunch of guys”.

The worst attempts at celebrity relatability are the ones where they do an interview where they try to walk you through a typical day of theirs. Like “see, I take showers and eat oatmeal, I am a normal human person just like you”. You’re not fooling anybody, Gwyneth Paltrow.

MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace was the latest victim of his own reverse-hubris this week, when he shared his typical Saturday with the Telegraph. The piece has attracted a healthy mixture of mockery and bafflement from readers, with many comparing his attempt to sound like a normal person to a scene from Alan Partridge.

What’s great about the Wallace piece is that it isn’t even that weird at a first glance. It’s like a magic eye picture made by HP Lovecraft, where the more you look at it the more insane you feel.

Why does he casually drop in the fact that he has “less than 18 per cent body fat and a six-pack”? How does that square with the fact that he has a full Harvester fry-up every day – and then a full lunch immediately afterwards? Why is the guy from MasterChef comparing his local Harvester to three-star Michelin restaurants, and why is the Harvester coming out on top in this comparison?

Why is it that the largest block of time on his schedule (3pm to 6pm) is taken up playing something called Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia, and why does he refer to this as “[being] an amateur historian”? (Is he me in university, telling myself that playing Assassins Creed 2 counts as revising for my Renaissance art module?) Why is this three-hour block twice the length of the 90 minutes he dedicates to spending with his non-verbal autistic son?

I can’t tell if Wallace’s timetable comes across as so weird because he’s lying about his day to try and sound more productive, or because he’s being far too honest – and we just aren’t used to seeing that from famous people.

While writing this article, I started to catalogue my own day as honestly as I could. It was supposed to go right here, but when I finished it, I had to delete it immediately, because I didn’t want anyone who read it think I’m some kind of goblin person. I’ll put it like this: I’m definitely not getting up at 5am to “look at the sign-up numbers for my health programme”. If anything, my schedule is more likely to end at 5am.

It reminds me of that time in 2018, when actor Mark Wahlberg revealed that his daily schedule saw him getting up at 2:30am, working out for 90 minutes, taking a 90-minute shower followed by 30 minutes of golf, and sitting in something called a “cryochamber”. Yeah, man – I’m sure the guy from the worst live-action Transformers movie needs to rouse himself at the crack of twilight to sit in the Demolition Man pod.

I’m not even sure it’s just a celebrity thing at this point. Nobody really wants you to know how they spend their free time. If word ever got out what my screentime report on my phone said this week, I’d probably lose my job. If I had to guess, Wallace’s schedule is so bizarre because it’s an attempt by him to present himself at his very best, with flashes of unfiltered, too-real honesty.

In that way, it’s actually pretty refreshing. It’s a damn sight better than having rich people who don’t really understand why they’re rich try to justify their richness to us all the time. “Why am I successful? Why, it’s because I stare directly into the sun for an hour each day and I eat six mangoes for breakfast”.

Come on now. You got lucky, and now you’re just as mystified as the rest of us. As least Wallace is honest enough to admit that, also like the rest of us, he spends most of his time playing video games.

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