Apr 08

Come Dine With Me – Awesome

FT/19 comments • 11,468 views

The Guardian’s “not Nancy Banks Smith” TV reviewer Sam Wallaston is a reliable sort of guy. I watched last night’s Come Dine With Me and was agog. “This is the best thing I’ve seen on Channel 4 in a long time” I exclaimed while watching between my fingers. Sure enough Wallaston’s review: “the worst programme on television”. He didn’t like it. And that’s why I read his reviews. “Never knowingly correct” goes his strapline. (Don’t get me started on his “ha ha geeks eh, this IS complicated and silly” he did the other day on Battlestar Galactica.)

Anyway… COME DINE WITH ME. Last night’s was more than awesome. This show has grown — a day-time staple, it’s gathered celebrity editions, and now it comes in a new format. No longer a short show every day of the week covering 5 people — they now compress 4 people in to a one hour show. It’s a sensation. Well for something that’s come from day-time. (It even has a rip off version on the beeb hosted by Simon Rimmer who seems to be trying to be on telly every day of the week for an entire year.)

But then having established a regular format, with often witty and interesting people who occasionally come to verbal blows, it goes HAYWIRE. Remember that first edition of Wife Swap with the foul mouthed racist woman — it was well train wreck. This was much the same but written by Mike Leigh.

The point of the show, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is to impress strangeres with your culinary skill and hosting ability. Remember that.

We’re in Newcastle. (oh the shame of it all). And we have (mis)matched up a pompous Tory with aspirations to become an MP, a harpy, an oversize child and a quiet studious looking woman. Just guess who won? Go on. Run with that prejudice.

The Tory boy is Brian Moore. No not that one. This one reminded me of a less suave David Van Day. Throw away lines that were painful. Dinner-party question: “If you had a thousand pounds to spend, what would you get?” “Well I do have a thousand pounds…”.

For some reason Brian is making a point about cheap super markets and bought everything from Netto – intending to wow everyone with the sumptious 3 course meal and then reveal his secret. But he can’t keep his powder dry and blurts it out before the dessert. Which is a shame as the dessert is a killer – half bananas and tinned mandarin segments on a plate. Oh with squirty cream on it. “Check the website for the recipe” says the narrator (one of the ‘writers’ in Moving Wallpaper).

Brian does not get on with Brenda. Brenda has already explained, over the first meal of the week, that red-meat ‘isn’t digested it just rots inside you’. She later reveals that Brian’s meal has made her sick. A meal that she was augmenting with enormous quantities of Tabasco. Oh and extra fried chillies made for her on request. And she continues to mention this while they are eating another meal.

Brenda didn’t really like anything, managed to make faces at all the food presented to her, yet actually produced… well a very ordinary meal. The most uncomfortable meal I have ever seen on reality television. No on television full stop. Scripted drama has nothing on it. I might have to rewatch it to transcribe some of the exchanges. The studious lady and the overgrown child shrink into the background — ‘let it be over soon’ all over their faces. “Phenomenal” as Brian says. Repeatedly.

The drunk scoring and bitching in the cab on the way back from the dinner was just unbalanced. I actually had to stop watching at one point, from the pain.

Perhaps you have to have seen other editions to see how unusual and agonizing it all was. Nobody here seemed out to make any effort — like an extra filler episode with people pulled off the street at the last minute. These people had not thought “I have a killer signature dish and my parties are legendary, i should go on that telly show! Now where’s the application form”

The winner was the studious lady (Rebecca).


  1. 1
    katie on 18 Apr 2008 #

    The best ever EVER meal ever served on CDWM was the PIG’S TROTTER! The guy (who I also seem to remember drank about a pot of tea at each meal) literally just boiled them up and served them, SPLAT, on a plate. He also used the water he’d cooked them in to form the “stock” for the soup he served as started. And he genuinely thought it was the best thing ever! AWESOME.

  2. 2
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Last week’s “celebrity” CWDM featured the ungainly spectacle of Lynsey de Paul and MC Harvey getting it on.

  3. 3
    Alan on 18 Apr 2008 #

    oh and Brian kept eating things with chopsticks. including the (winning) moroccan meal. he must have brought them with him. along with the same petrol-station bunch of flowers he brought to every meal.

    The other bloke cottoned on to this and bought a huge bouquet to the last meal.

  4. 4
    mike on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I switched channels after the first couple of minutes, simply because I COULD NOT STAND the voiceover man.

  5. 5
    Sarah on 18 Apr 2008 #

    But but…. Tory Boy did actually say he had “a signature dish”! The tuna and bean salad! Which was canned Netto tuna!! With beans!!

    Agreed ABSOLUTELY, it was AMAZING. Sorry, I mean – phenomenonal!

  6. 6
    Lena on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Elizabeth David wept! I think this show would give me a stomachache…

  7. 7
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I watched a bit of it with the sound down (listening to Radcliffe and Maconie as is my wont of a working week mid-evening) and even without the voiceover it made me ill (the people first, the food second)!

  8. 8
    pete on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Wallaston is almost at Alexander Walker levels of reverse quality identification (a status that Bradshaw can only dream of, whose occasional weakness for dumb comedies means he is only wrong 90% of the time). The comments on that Wallaston thread however should give him pause for thought, even people who though that edition of tweaked for prime-time CDWM was rubbish, the format wins.

    “While Malcolm dishes up the Prune Fool, Sam is busy examining the Beatrix Potter nick-nacks and Monique is vomiting in the en-suite”.

  9. 9
    Alan on 18 Apr 2008 #

    i hadn’t noticed the related comment-laden version of the article!


  10. 10
    Alix on 19 Apr 2008 #

    Wow, I have to remember to see if this is on replay, as, as some of you are aware, I frickin’ love CDWM.

    The pigs trotter man was awesome – he was trying to make a point about it being possible to cook a great meal using bargain ingredients and unpopular cuts of meat but failed to realise that to make this work well you have to have a clue about cooking. Also he burned the rhubarb crumble.

    Is the voiceover man still Dave Lamb? I like him, he’s like a cut price Chris Tarrant.

  11. 11
    aldo on 21 Apr 2008 #

    I watched the French version (Un Diner Presque Parfait) daily while on holiday recently, and I think it might have pioneered the hour-long format. It has a much more complicated voting system, with separate votes for ‘la cuisine’, ‘l’ambience’ and ‘le soiree’ (although I couldn’t quite work out exactly what the distinctions were).

    Standards of cooking seemed much higher, and less politics in the scoring – even when people really didn’t like each other and were outright insulting to each other during the evening they still managed to score kind of impartially.

  12. 12
    DJ Silver on 4 May 2008 #

    I have only just started to watch this but the narrator makes the series great. His witty comments crack me up.


  13. 13
    Amy on 28 May 2008 #

    Dave Lamb, the narrator, makes this programme. I love his comments. Always makes me laugh. :)

  14. 14

    […] hooked on it while off work poorly so I’m chuffed it’s graduated to an evening slot. Freaky Trigger have a great desription of a typical episode – complete with excruciating social awkwardness and […]

  15. 15
    kim pratt on 12 Sep 2008 #

    ithink trevor smith is the nicest person that’s been on come dine with me. the worst has been pippa and tanya

  16. 16
    susan howard on 16 Jan 2009 #

    Come dine with me is very entertaining but I do wish participants would hold their knife correctly !!! Not like a drumstick as per Peter Stringfellow and numerous others !!

  17. 17
    TREVOR SMITH on 27 Apr 2009 #

    Thank you all who have stopped me in the street, pubs and even the gents (?) who have said that the show I was on has been the best ever and that I made the show but all the guys were great and we are still friends and keep in touch except for one!! The banter with me and Alan continues, Zoe has had a baby since and so has Steves wife Claire. I haven’t cooked a thing since….I leave that to Bev but then again she did save the day for me. I’ll fry the meatballs next time!

  18. 18
    jean on 22 Jan 2010 #

    I think the voice over man is AWful! Why does he have to shout? I have to keep turning the volume down and then up. I enjoy the programme but surely the producer must realised the voiceover man shouts???!!! and why don’t they use the soup spoon correctly by scooping the soup into the spoon and away towards the back of the bowl. They hold their knives and forks up in the air and waive them about. Manners!!

  19. 19
    andrew birrell on 18 Mar 2010 #

    i watched one of the episode’s last night and thought the comment ” after all i’m only cooking for white people ” was a very racist comment , what would have happened if that had been another person referring to her culture or race . shocking

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page