Tuesday, September 30, 2008


mainly by Sarah, plus Mr P and Mark

Now that Strictly... has a cast of dozens it takes two weeks to just get through the initial stages. Last week's boysfest showed that even John Sergeant could cut a rug - albeit very slowly and with a slightly embarrassed smirk. Phil Daniels made a swift exit as we soon realised why there were three Easties hasbeens in this year's comp.

Brucie and Tess had a few issues with Tess's dress - it was long and cripplingly tight with a train that would never pass muster at a health and safety assessment. Bruce made an awkward attempt at topical comedy - it wasn't as funny as watching Ian Hislop playing "Play Your Cards Right" but he tries...bless him.

First up was Jessie "Slutty Slater" Metcalfe dancing the salsa with Darren. Clips of their training mainly consist of them ROFLing a lot. She's a fine actress with a lovely smile and a filthy laugh. And about as graceful as an ice dancing chicken. Well she had plenty of oomph and chutzpah and wiggled her tassles with a big sexy grin enough to get Len slightly hot and bothered. Craig (is that a mullet?) mumbled something about a fine effort and Arlene told her to watch her hips and feet. Jessie and Darren scored the lowest marks with the judges but could the legions of Easties fans save her bacon?

Christine Presenternator was next with a fluffy rather cute foxtrot. I reckon she's from Derry but no-one was saying. Despite her constant “I’m rubbish, me” style interviews, she is very graceful and elegant. The judges praised her transformation from coltish young presenternator to fully-fledge dancebot in a matter of weeks.

On to Lisa Snowdon and Brendan dancing Brendan's saucy interpretation of a salsa - which seemed to involve Lisa doing an impersonator of a model in a blender. Lisa is wearing a grey and black dress – exactly the colours that first come to mind when one says CARNIVAL!!! You can hear the judges sharpening their knives when Brendan walks on and Lisa doesn't seem to think much of him either. The results show shows Brendan storming out of a backstage interview (I imagine him going to the gents to shout at his reflection and tell himself that he is a WINNAH!! What is he? A WINNAH!!), leaving Lisa sobbing into her sequins. Poor love. They get pretty low marks but are saved by the audience vote.

Sometimes I wonder about the great British public's attitude to the class struggle. Jodie Marsh Kidd dances a perfectly respectable foxtrot with some nifty high leg kicks. Let's face it she's the nearest thing in this competition to one of those sharp witted Amazons who are always trying to trick Bertie Wooster into marriage and a perfect candidate to whisk around a ballroom in a frothy frock. But the audience put her up for the chop - mainly I think because she's posh. Jodie is 6’5” in her heels – yowsa – so we get the predictable comments about how hard it is for tall people to control their gangling nerveless limbs. Craig says she has a lot of body to control and she did it well. That is a mullet.

Foghorn voiced Heather Small is next. Apparently her entire family threatened to disown her if she didn't go in for Strictly. Her partner is Brian Fortuna - King of the Salsa. He seems like a nice enough chap but there's something odd going on with his eyebrows. They seem rather ghostly apparitions of eyebrows that were. And they seem to have bred a brother on his top lip. Anyway eyebrows aside Brian is living proof of my theory that Americans whip the world's collective arse in two things: jazz and dancing. He's bloody fantastic and Heather didn't do too badly in her weird fringey green dress either - there was one really cool bit where she fell over backwards and he caught her by the neck. Bruno calls her the Queen of Salsa but says her musicality could improve. I often thought the same while listening to M-People songs.

Gillian Kaffee Taylforth is next with Anton. I really like her dress. It reminds me of those Edwardian country diary biscuit tins from the 1980s - but in a good way. Kaffee says she is having nightmares about SCD, but surely it can’t be any worse than having to pretend to desire Fill Mitchell? Anton does a very good job of propping Kaffee up around the dance floor and Kaffee smiles winningly but IT'S NOT ENOUGH! Not for the judges or the Great British Public anyway.

Rachel S Club 7 looks v pretty with backcombed hair and an aquamarine ruffly dress with a surprisingly long skirt (surprising when you remember the increasingly trampy outfits that Vincent had Louisa Lytton wear – perhaps he is saving that until the competition is more intense). Vincent has started doing a weird thing where he spits on his fingers and smoothes his eyebrows. He is trying to develop a “schtick” perhaps, but it just makes him look creepy. The routine is v complicated, with some crazy arm tangly moves (why yes, that is the official name for them) and Rachel carries it off with aplomb, albeit with her squeaky clean kids TV persona intact. Bruno predictably goes crazy over a female pop star and they get 8’s across the board.

Cheri Lunghi acted in Oliver Twist once, so Bruce makes a not unfunny joke about how they already have lots of Nancys on the show. James keeps going on that Cheri is well fit for an older bird. Tactful. He then says that Cheri keeps stabbing his feet with her high heels – perhaps these two facts are related. Cheri is foxtrotting in a dress with a bright green skirt that looks a bit like a lettuce. She is very good and there are some sway-y side-to-side bits out of hold that she nails perfectly. All the judges rave about her and she gets 3 8’s and a 9. Yeah well, just wait until jive week.

Mr P writes: There was a collective boy dance (boylective?) called a merengi I think which seemed to involve getting in a sporty huddle at various points and then shooting out a couple from the mob like a Brendan from a disappointment. There is one bit where Tom from Holby waves his arms around like he is trying to karate chop Camilla. Gary Rhodes seems to have improved. John Sergeant was rubbish, but funny. Austin Metro is possibly not as good at Latin as Ballroom. Mark Foster looked a bit dorky (Blogger Mark, who is also v tall and dances like a dork, sympathises). The pro dance was a showcase for new dancers Brian, Hayley and Kristina Aguilerovska, and involved shaking heads violently to and fro (but not in a headbang way) to Michael Jackson's Beat It. I was interested to see if the session guitarist was going to replicate the famous Eddie Van Halen solo or go for something different and push the boundaries. Van Halen it was. I can't help feeling it was an opportunity missed.


This week the restaurants are each given half a whole pig, together with a butcher to help them convert it into din dins. They are told to use all of it.

Team Syno-Cymru have a themed pork night (snigger) and get round the problem by giving each punter a huge helping of meat.

Team Engerland go further into League of Gentlemen territory by describing deep fried lungs and heart as “crispy pork salad”. Vom.

Lots of teams make a gross terrine out of BRANES and CHEEKS! Mmm, seconds please. These do not prove to be very popular.
Team Father/Daughter struggle with service yet again. Father makes some shitty flyers by typing “We haz a pork!!” out with a dot matrix printer, hacking them up with a rusty bread knife and then giving two away before getting bored and going home. He is so annoying – presumably he thought “front of house” meant swanning round with a glass of wine saying “Did you enjoy your meal?” a few times. There is a clip of him wheedling for a tip and the customers saying “um no, the service was shit.”

Team LOL aren’t getting much custom out on a country road and need to rethink their marketing. Also their waiting staff seem to be v rubbish. Mild Mannered one has a nervous breakdown, while the Intense one ponces round in the kitchen doing intense cheffy things.

Team Twee win and Teams Father/Daughter (because he’s rubbish), Engerland (for their deceiving menu) and LOL (for not acting like a team) are put into the challenge – they have to serve a meal for an Oxford College one evening. I miss that one, but Father /Daughter go out, with him squarely getting the blame. I bet that’ll make for a tense Xmas dinner this year…

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Last week wasn’t as much fun as the first, hence my tardy recapping. To begin with, Raymond gives tips on how to charge more for a meal – like if you have a bowl of super-noodles you could garnish it with some grated cheddar and call it super-noodle deluxe or something (he used different ingredients tho…) Awesome!

Then the couples have to do a “customer only pays what they think the meal is worth” night and it generally goes better than the first night. Team Father/Daughter try to avoid their opening night service meltdown by only taking about two bookings for the whole day. Team Twee take too many bookings and have to get people to wait hours for their tables, also the food quality suffers a bit. Team Sino-Cymru can’t cook rice, which I would think is a bit of a drawback for Chinese food. Team Gay can’t be bothered to make any of the changes suggested by Raymond, sigh. Team Sourcing Shambles don’t order enough food and reduce portion size, so by the end of the evening the punters are just getting 1/256th of a scallop each.

Team LOL have their belated opening night and it all seems to go well, with our heroes bickering adorably about the presentation of sliced bread. Sarah turns up and likes the look of the food, but isn’t actually given any cutlery to eat it with. When she finally does, she says it’s very good but that the menu isn’t descriptive enough.

Everyone gets about ½ - 2/3 of what they would have charged. Mean mean customers!

(BTW, there are two teams who haven’t featured much, so I haven’t given them stupid nicknames yet – they will be Team Engerland, who are obsessed with English food, and Team Brood, who have a zillion kids and want to open a restaurant where other people can go with a zillion kids and not be judged)

Team Brood are deemed to be the best restaurant of the week, mainly because of Mr Brood’s sparkling front of house personality.

Raymond gives every couple some feedback, then announces the other couples who must “fart to keep their restaurant” along with Team Father/Daughter. It’s Team Gay, who are generally rubbish, and Team Twee - gasp! - who should have done better and let themselves down. You can’t boot them out! Husband Twee is the only vaguely good looking man on the show!

For their task, each couple must team up with some non-losers to create dishes and serve for the lunch shift at a busy motorway service station. The last time I ate at a service station I ended up vomiting profusely by the side of the M6. Anyway, I missed most of this as I was late home and forgot to tape it, but basically…

Team Father/Daughter do the best, financially, but get told off for not doing a meat dish and then taking a photo of some shop chocolate brownies and passing it off as their own food. Apparently this is a CRIME!!!! Sarah says their fish pie is v nice, but their fishcakes are like rocks – there is a funny shot of her eating a bit, then making a pained expression and wondering how she’s going to swallow it. Team LOL are helping them, and the mild mannered one has to wear a comedy ostrich outfit to lure in the kiddies.

Team Twee make the best food but they take ages to get it together and don’t have time to take proper photos. Instead they have shitty hand felt-tipped posters. Mrs Twee’s idea of promotion is to make some “Cheerful Soul” stickers (that’s the name of their restaurant. Vom) and chase irate motorists round the service station. They do second best and are praised for the food, but totally lambasted for the dreadful promotion. Mrs Twee runs off to cry somewhere and I shout “Where’s your cheerful soul now, eh?” at the telly.

Team Gay make decent food but have a disaster with the humungous carrot cake they try to make. It takes EONS to bake, so eventually everyone forgets about it and it burns. Heh. Cue shots of various cooks trying to scrape the black bits off, but in the end it is deemed unsellable. They do the rubbisherest and are fired basically, which is not surprising as they didn’t bother to follow any advice, had no clue, no drive and no sorbets. There is a ‘poignant’ shot of them wandering the empty halls of “Sorbets and Seasons” (tee hee) saying that they were surprised how hard it was to run a restaurant, what with all the late nights and early starts, etc. What did you expect, fool? I pity the fool, etc etc.

Next week! More cooking and more crying, I expect.


It’s showtime! The usual non-witty non-banter from Bruce and Tess (who is wearing a nice dress for once). They introduce the three squillion contestants and inform us that the men are competing in either the waltz or the cha cha cha and that the women will do the group dance and compete solo next week. Because I am evil, I instantly check to see that John Sergeant is wearing a tux, and thus won’t be shaking his booty to torrid latin beats this week. Damn it.

Tom off Holby is first, after some hilarious soap-tastic clips of women in Holby slapping him, kissing him, slapping then kissing him etc. I still don’t think he’s that cute, but never mind. He dances the cha x 3 in a chest-rug revealing electric green shirt and he’s pretty good – he looks like a proper dancer and gyrates his hips around in the approved fashion. He even pulls retarded dance faces. He gets pretty good scores for the judges, who say it is the best first male dance ever and he has loads of potential. Bruno makes a laboured Tom-cat joke, so at least that’s out of the way.

Phil Parklife Daniels is doing with a waltz with Flavia Cachache Coming Atcha. She is wearing a weird yellow dress with loads of pompoms and trailly bits. Phil looks so incredibly stiff and uncomfortable that it is like a comedy routine without a punchline. I know they have to lean away from each other in the waltz, but Phil looks so uncomfortable, and doesn’t seem to take a breath the whole routine, which gives the impression that Flavia stinks of rotten meat or something, which I’m sure isn’t the case. Bruno says he scrubs up well for a bit of rough but Craig says he’s common. Shut up Craig. He gets bad marks.

Gary Rhodes annoys Karen by wanting to learn every little thing perfectly, thus taking forever. He says he is a perfectionist. He is also rubbish at the cha cha cha. Karen is wearing a weird silver dress inspired by assymetrical 1980s bat wing jumpers, though I am pleased to say she still pulls lots of mad expressions while dancing. Gary jerks around stiffly and does vague things with his arms. The routine is quite odd, including a part where Karen leans over like an ironing board and Gary gestures above her like an evangelical preacher on mute. He gets dreadful marks, including a one from Craig ‘for turning up’.

Austin Healy does a waltz. He looks very strange with his weirdly unbelievable hair and botox-y face. Matt Dawson pops up to whinge about Austin putting him off when he was competing years ago. Get a job, Matt. Austin is worried that he might forget everything and have to do the robot for five minutes. I’d love to see that. He is a bit smug and irritating, but at least he doesn’t act like dancing is a great insult to his masculinity and he doesn’t know how he’s going to cope. He is very good too and Arlene suspects him of going to a posh school that made him do dance lessons or something. Austin denies it. He gets a 9 from Len Von Overmarker, which doesn’t really leave him much room for improvement over the rest of the competition, and 8s from the rest.

Mark Foster is super tall and his hands are even bigger than Zoe-Slater-off- Eastenders’. Her is v handsome though, and looks great in evening dress. He dances a waltz and is not bad, but rather stiff and nervous looking and is so desperately trying to remember his moves that you can almost see the cogs turning in his brane. Everyone says he has potential and needs to loosen up and perform more. Arlene is all “hellooo handsome!!!” – so he is the designated contestant that she will drool over all series (though my internets research hint that Mark might be gay). He gets respectable marks from everyone except Craig, who deems it D.U.L.L. and gives him a 3. Ouch. Mark looks mortified. And sweaty.

Andrew Castle and his strangely huge ‘bloke off dynasty’ hair is dancing a cha cha cha with Ola, who is wearing a bizarre skin tight catwoman style outfit with cutout sections. Even she doesn’t have the body to carry that off. Andrew gives it a shot, but is a total dad dancer and vaguely embarrassing to watch, especially when he has to shake his hands in the air like he just don’t care, when clearly he does care. Deeply. Luckily for him, he is being judged on a special scoring system which only applies to GMTV presenters, and as he wasn’t as dreadful as Fiona or Kate, he gets surprisingly good marks.

John Sergeant is doing a waltz with Siberian Kristina, who as well as looking like a sexy 1960s spy, looks like a less evil version of Christina Aguilera. They seem to get on well and have a quite a sweet relationship, with Kristina making sympathetic ‘aww’ faces when Bruce mocks John’s age and terrible bookies’ odds. The waltz is not too ambitious and pretty good, and everyone praises their rapport and evident enjoyment. He gets respectable marks. Yay, go John and Kristina!

Finally Don Warrington (off Rising Damp and lots of other things) is doing the cha cha cha. He is kind of stompy, stiff and expressionless, and at one point clearly goes left when he was supposed to go right. There are vague hints of non rubbishness though. Craig says he has natural rhythm. Oh Craig. Everyone says he is all right but not great and he needs to perform more. He gets fairly shit marks. Don is pleasantly dry and dead pan in interviews, but I can’t see him having much a fan base and think he’ll be in the bottom two for sure.

The ladies do a latin themed group dance to the rubbish Lil Kim etc version of Lady Marmalade. It is hard to see what is going on, with everyone thrashing around and the camera rotating in opposite directions, but from first glance – Gillian and Jodie appear to be rubbish; Rachel Stevens and Lisa Snowden seem to be quite good. Christine has potential, and Jessie just stands there and shimmies on the spot while Darren gyrates around at her feet.

The results show is now an hour long. Sigh. Tess is wearing a weird dress with a sort of pelmet for the neckline. The pro’s do a group foxtrot. Bette Midler pimps her new greatest hits album, Alesha and Matt do their Crazy in Love dance again (cut to Flavia looking under-joyed). Everyone discusses last night’s shenanigans and there is a recap of the marks. There is a group dance with everyone involved, but again, it is impossible to see what’s going on with so many people. I like the clip of the training though, with Vincent fondling Austin’s manly pectorals. Forget Tom-off-Holby, Vincent always sends my gaydar into complete meltdown.

Results time – Austin and Tom get through! Andrew and Mark (hurray!) get through! I am also pleased that John gets through. OMG, Gary gets through and Karen looks like she’s going to have a coronary. It is Parklife and Don in the bottom two. The judges advise them to be less shit this time. Thanks for your piercing insight, judges!

They both dance again and are both rubbish again and both make lots of obvious mistakes. Don at least tries to smile this time. Craig saves Phil! Gasp! Arlene saves Phil! Double gasp! Bruno saves Don! Hurray! Casting vote-meister Len also saves Don. Phew. There is something a bit irritating about Phil Daniels and he was rubbish in Eastenders, so I am glad he got the boot. Perhaps he can go and feed the pigeons to cheer him up, I understand that that gives him an enormous sense of well being.

Nest week: The women dance solo!

The week after that: I look forward to Mark Foster and John Sergeant wearing tight and revealing latin costumes, but for completely different reasons!

Monday, September 15, 2008


OMG it starts again the next week!! This is a preview to introduce us to the insane number of contestants (16 this time) and generally get us in the mood.

First of all I love the promo clip, which has a huge glitter ball landing and opening up like a space ship, then all the contestants run out in glittery outfits looking ultra serious, like superheroes charging to battle (Dance Force Assemble!!)

Bruce and Tess present of course, and are shot in close up so we can't see what horrors the costume designers have wrought on Tess' bosoms.

There is a recap of last series, which makes me think 'yawn filler' but soon gets me all nostalgic - lots of shots of Alesha looking awesome, Matt forgetting his steps, Gethin being suave and Kate stumbling round like a big clown. The judges pop up repeatedly and Craig says "Kenny was the stiffest thing I've ever seen." O really, Craig??

On to the contestants...

Chef Gary Rhodes and his weird eyebrows are partnered with mad face Karen. Yay for mad face Karen!! Gary Rhodes is surprisingly hunky. Karen tells him stop talking and get on with it a lot while they are training.

Manageress actress Cheri Lunghi is partnered with annoying James, whose hair looks completely ridiculous at the moment.

Journalist and comedian John Sergeant is partnered with a new platinum blonde Russian dancer called Kristina, who sort of looks like a sexy spy from a 1960s film. I don't think John will be long in the competition, which is a shame as there was a hilarious shot of him holding Kristina's leg in the air with a highly bemused expression on his face. I think he will be comedy gold.

Brass-lunged M-People singer Heather Small (sadly now without her trade mark pineapple-esque do) is partnered with gimpy looking new American dancer Brian Fortuna.

Phil 'Parklife' Daniels is the first of three ex eastenders looking for a career boost - three is a bit much, to be honest. He is put with Flavia and her terrifying teeth. Of course, Flavia danced with Parklife's screen son Deano in the last series.

Posh horse riding model Jodie Kidd (who does not look all that without her make-up) is put with Iain, who is probably the only male dancer who is actually taller than her.

Don Warrington, the actor who played the black guy in Rising Damp, is partnered with Lilia. She is pleased that he can vaguely move his hips.

Jesse "Slutty Slater" Wallace is the second Eastender. She is as orange as ever but now has a severe Louise Brookes style bob (pleeease cast me in Chicago!!!). They show that famous clip with Teen going 'You're not my mother!!' which is as hilarious as ever. She is partnered with Darren, after he did so well with another slightly camp EE actress last series.

Rachel Stevens of S Club 7 and forgettable solo career fame is obv definitely in need of a career boost. She's partnered with creepy Vincent who is as sleazy and lispy as ever. She tries to sing Reach and can't remember the words, but Vincent can, the big gaylord.

Model, presenter and George Clooney ex Lisa Snowden is partnered with that shiny faced bastard Brendan. I have always found Lisa inexplicably irritating so I'm not going to be cheering these two on. Brendan is as annoying as ever and immediately starts leching over her. You could partner him with a lamp post and he'd try to dry hump that too.

Super tall silver fox olympic swimmer Mark Foster falls into the 'retiring sportsman looking to move into presenting' category. He is partnered with a new dancer Hayley from NZ, who seems like a nice down to earth type girl. She is pleased to have a big strong sportsman as her partner. Mark complains that they put him into a waistcoat with nothing underneath and has to show off his super toned chest, but I bet he loves it really.

Rugby player Austin Healy is the second retired sportsman blah blah blah. He chats about how he doesn't care what ludicrous tight shiny outfits he wears (they actually show the wardrobe lady squealing and clapping her hands in glee at this news). He is partnered with Erin, who looks completely different with straightened, lighter hair. Maybe she has had a little work done too, but it’s hard to tell.

The final Eastender is Gillian 'Kaffee' Taylforth, who is going for the game old bird ticket, a la Claire Bad Girl from the other year. She is delighted to be partnered with Anton Du Madeupname, who is a natural with women-of-a-certain-age like our Gillian. She seems like good fun anyway, so I hope she does OK.

Andrew Castle is the blond bloke off GMTV. Apparently he used to be good at tennis too. He has a lot to live up to, what with all the other GMTV presenters being hopeless clodhoppers. He is partnered with uber minx Ola, who says he is good looking, but old enough to be her dad. Meooowwww!!

Tom something is a ‘Holby hunk’, it says here. He is all right but nothing to write home about. My boyfriend likes him though. He is partnered with Camilla who looks 300x nicer when she is not bright orange. Apparently Tom is getting married half way through the series, so Camilla asks how he’s going to fit that in round his training. Heh. Later on there is a clip of him standing in a waltz position, moaning that he has cramp in his wrist, so I think she’s going to have her work cut out.

Finally there is that Northern Irish Christine woman off Nationwide The One Show. She sounds like a total presenternator when she coos on about looking forward to going on a journey, but is more likeable when she’s being fitted for her costume and is all like “yikes, my dad is going to watch this and I’m practically naked!!” She is partnered with Matt.

I was trying to work out which pro from last series was dropped (two extra contestants but three new pros) and it turns out it’s Nicole. Even though I made fun of her a lot last time, I wonder what she did to deserve that?

Anyway, my appetite is well and truly whetted. Bring on next week!!


The couples are all taken to see their restaurants. They are in a variety of locations and settings, from a super modern glass fronted one (yay!) in Brentford (boo!), to village pubs, high street shop fronts etc and so on. They have all the basic equipment and furniture, and have a week and £5,000 to get everything else they need and sort out staff etc. To rub their noses in it even more, they get treated to a night out in one of Raymond’s places, so they can look back and reflect upon what a superbly run restaurant is supposed to be like when (SPOILER) it all goes tits up in their own places. It seems that each restaurant has a full board of punters arranged for them, so all they have to do is phone them all up and confirm their bookings. That probably isn’t very realistic, but I suppose it’s better than having them completely empty on their opening nights.

Lots of montages of cleaning/painting etc. Team Sino-Cymru can’t decide on a name for their place that reflects its Chinese/Welsh cuisine (how about ‘inedible farrago’?), Team Father/Daughter have a nice city centre place in Oxford and ask their customers to order in advance so they can get a head start with the food. Something about the dad is beginning to remind me of Alan Partridge. Team Gay are sticking with their uber naff “Sorbets und Seasons” concept.

Team LOL (the crypto gay comedy ones who had a mashed potato disaster in episode one) are opening a fine dining restaurant called Gallery which will have art on the walls. There is a funny scene of the intense one telling the mild mannered one off for distracting him while he is trying to chat to another chef, then the mild mannered one does v-signs behind his back. All is going well until they discover a gas leak in the dining room. It can’t be fixed in time so they basically just can’t open – how annoying for them after all that preparation (and yes there is another scene of the mild mannered one hugging and comforting the intense one).

Opening night comes around – Team Twee (the ones with the flowers) aren’t quite ready and there are heaps of crap piled around everywhere, but they don’t feature much apart from that so they must do OK. Team English barely feature, so they must do OK too (but we later learn that their food was under seasoned, bland and average – a good representation of English cookery then). Another team get a bit of stick, because they make a big deal of where all their food is sourced, but then they can’t say what breed of pig their pork belly comes from. Doh.

Team Sino-Cymru call their place the Welsh Wok. Hmmm. They seem to have given up on the fusion concept, and instead have a mix of Welsh and Chinese dishes, or else a welsh meat dish with some stir fried veg. Lots of comedy shots of bemused locals being bemused. Sarah the sidekick visits. She is not as withering as Margaret Apprentice and seems smiley and pleasant most of the time, but when she is inspecting she is ruthlessly business like. There is a hilarious conversation where she discusses the menu with Mrs Welsh and it goes something like ‘I thought you were doing fusion food’, ‘We are!’, ‘But there are no fusion dishes on the menu’, ‘No, it’s a mix of Welsh and Chinese dishes’, ‘So, not fusion then’, ‘The fusion is in the menu’, ‘but I thought you were doing fusion food?’, ‘Yes but no but yes but no’.

In Team Gay, the front of house one seems to be doing OK, but the kitchen one is a bit wimpy and asks the sous chef to let him know if he’s doing anything wrong. Has he never seen Masterchef? Even I know that the head chef rules with a rod of iron. It is really clear who are the amateurs who can put on a nice dinner party, and who are the professionals in this show. David Inspector comes round and tuts at the kitchen hierarchy. He orders the signature sorbet, which is mint and pea (these two are obsessed with mint and peas) and says that it’s (a) nasty and (b) not even a real sorbet. No one else orders it all night.

In Team Father/Daughter's gaff (a classic brasserie called the Blue Goose), they are all smug because they have got their customers to pre-order. Father tells the waitresses the system for dealing with orders, and the waitress immediately tells the film crew that it won’t work. Sure enough it doesn’t – there is no way to track orders or to tell who has had their food and there isn’t even a proper table numbering system. It soon descends into complete chaos, with tables getting random dishes if they are lucky, and people leaving in droves after waiting for two hours without getting any food. Father gets really arsey with all the customers and insists that they pay for soft drinks they ordered while they were waiting. Unsurprisingly, lots of people don’t want to pay for anything. Sarah arrives at the height of the meltdown and chats with some irate people who are leaving after not getting any dinner. The whole evening is an Epic Fail.

Raymond debriefs the couples and offers some pithy advice to each one. Cymru-Welsh, Sourcing Shambles and the Gays come in for special criticism. Father/Daughter are left to last and think they are going to be deservedly eliminated, but Raymond says it would be unfair to shut them after one night (and also a huge waste of money), but they have to improve things and next week will have to do a Raymond Challenge and fight to keep their restaurant (although, because of his accent it sounds like he is telling them to fart to keep their restaurant, tee hee)

Next time: Raymond gives them some hints for making more money, and they have to do a night where people only pay what they thought their meal was worth (cue clip of a punter saying his steak and frites was worth about £4 – the same as a kebab. Heh)

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Another elimination type show with each team of two trying to run a restaurant. We have top chef Raymond Blanc and his comedy french accent in the Siralan role and a restaunteur pal and an icy young businesswoman as his Nick and Margaret.

There are lots of shots of Raymond's lovely looking restaurant near Oxford and then the nine are told that they each have to cook a course each of a three course meal and the worst one will be eliminated before they even get to their restaurant. It's too early to remember much about the contestants but the most memorable moments of epsiode one were...

1) There is a welsh lady with a husband of chinese origin (who said about three words all episode). Their concept was welsh/chinese fusion. LOL. This basically consists of him cooking yummy looking chinese food and then chucking a few leeks into it.

2) There was a very twee young lady with a gaydar triggering husband, who puts flowers in all his dishes. He seems like a pretty decent chef but she is v annoying, and you just know that they must have twee nicknames for each others genitals.

3) There was a father/daughter team - you get the idea that the daughter basically threatened to hold her breath until daddy procurred a restaurant for her. Again, she is a pretty good cook, but they made the mistake of telling Ray that they were serving spring lamb and he was all 'Please, that bitch was at least 11 weeks old when it was slaughtered.' Do not try to con Raymond re the age of your carcass as he will totaly pwn you over it.

4) Someone else was chastised re the quality of their watercress

T5) here is a young married couple who are obsessed with Englishness and want to do proper English food. They want to call their restaurant Ray White’s – geddit??? The bloke reminds me a bit of Mickey from League of Gentlemen. For their dessert, they make that classic English dish: rhubarb and ginger cheesecake with goats’ cheese. Vom. Apparently the goats’ cheese is so mild that it doesn’t spoil the dessert, but it looks like something that has been decanted hastily from a tin and they get told off re the presentation.

6) A couple of gay air stewards with a concept for a restaurant that sounded like something from a Victoria Wood sketch - Seasons and Sorbets - where they serve seasonal food, with a lot of sorbets I assume. For their starter they coked a pea and mint soup and served it in a hollowed out bap. Why? Why??? Also they used frozen peas because peas aren't actually in season. Doh. They just scraped through

7) Another couple of blokes, who we are told are just friends but again set the old gaydar blaring. The guy doing the cooking was an intense muscley bloke with lots of tattoos, who is a professional chef, and his ahem friend is a mild mannered cuddly type with glasses who gets bossed around a lot. Muscle boy cooked an insanely ambitious dish that included a saffron potato puree. As he was cooking it, the voice over explained that sometimes the dish can separate out and the butter and starch can react in a weird way. Hmm, I wonder why they would tell us that? Oh right. Muscle boy is soon sweating profusely as he tries to rescue his pretentious mash and ends up dishing up what looks like mustard coloured play-doh. Raymond takes him to pieces over it and says it's no good trying to do 'fine dining' if you can't handle the cooking (At this point I would have said 'Can we change our concept to mediocre dining instead?'.) Again, they just scrape through and muscle boy ends up weeping in his pal's arms. Awww. They were so hilarious that I would carry on watching just for them and think they ought to get their own sitcom

8) A mother and daughter want to open a carribean restaurant. For her dish, the mum chucks some tinned mango puree into a bowl, stirs some cream and lime juice into it and pops it into the freezer. Yes, this is the best dish she knows that she thinks will impress Raymond Blanc the mostest!! Why didn't she just give him a plate of tescos rich tea or something? Unsurprisingly she doesn't get through to the next level.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Eurovision Dance Contest

Just when you thought that Eurovision couldn't get any camper. It's Strictly Come Eurovision with Wogan replacement in training Graham Norton and Claudia Winkelman. Marvel at Graham's woeful French accent! Wonder if Claudia will fall off her heels.

Spotty blonde chap who is Sweden's biggest pop star (apart from Bjorn Benni et al I suppose) and the pro is a blonde too. But then they are Scandis. Mark probably fancies him anyway. Oh no! He break dances!

They start with some really bad sub-Shalimar body popping moves and it goes downhill from here.

Craig and Len like 'em.

He's very tall but the grouping of three different styles (including hip hop - well MC Hammer) is a bit odd.

Another spotty pop star/singer with a dance based on an old Danish ghost story . They start well enough with the theme from Twin Peaks but then it gets all interpretive. Pop Star is very bendy but he's dressed like Peter Pan and there isn't much ballroom in it.

Len hates it. Craig says: "Oh LEN get off the grass! I love it". The judges love it

Len can't pronounce it and advises all children to leave the room. Blimey it's Christopher Lee's secret love child. Oh brilliant! Heavy metal hammond organ interpretation of Phantom of the Opera with Azerbaijani accents and rhinestones! Love his boots. Lots of hurling about of pretty blonde lady.

Len hopes he didn't come her on the bus in that costume but loves the foxtrot. Craig hates it.

OMG this is reality TV gone mad! Vlad the Impala has just proposed to his victim! Len's too busy throwing up to comment but the Singaporean (??) judge gives them a 12.

Derbhla and Gavin the slightly gay-looking barman from some Norn Irish soap by the look of it. He's an Ulsterman! OK we're both dreading this. It'll have Riverdance bits in it. It starts off with jungle drums and lots of tippety tappety leg swinging to something Spanish. There's something very amusing watching a pretty lady dance in a pair of hobnail boots but...oh no they've gone all flamenco. Now they're lying down...having a rest love? Mr P notes that it's more Roscommon than Rhumba.

Craig haytes it and Len loves it. The judges loathe it.

Graham N says some complicated points stuff about the top four couples earning four times as many points again if the judges like them or something

We can expect something called the Finnish tango. It starts off slow but there's an accordion. Then there's a fast bit. Then there's another slow bit where the lady looks at her feet. Chap looks like Kenneth Branagh on stilts which is slightly offputting. They're going fast...slow...then fast and they're finishing with a slow bit. We noticed that Ken is supposed to be the pro but he's not as good as the lady.

Craig says that the Finnish tango is meant to be slower and in a minor key. Ummm...tango music is always in a minor key (little muso note there...)

Mediocre marks from the judges. Singapore judge is a bit of a soft touch. Len's got his eye on her though.

Oh dearohdearohdear. Tall blond chap called Thomas who works in a Queen covers band is going to sing AND dance. Oh he's doing Angels with the Mike Samms singers doing the chorus while he does a lot of posing and pointing at the balcony. The pro seems to have lost half her dress poor girl. Oh dear...

Craig mutters about his highlights. Len tells him to stop bitching about the hair. Judges hate them

Halfway through Denmark's Peter Pan meets Twin Peaks routine is in the lead.

The "sexiest lady in Lithuania"...apparently she sings in a Girls Aloud a like group with a pro partner who makes Brendan look quite sensitive. Craig notes that his eyebrows have been plucked to within an inch of their lives.

Oh she's still got her dressing gown on. He's in white pyjamas. Perhaps they're going to take a nap...oh no the gown is off revealing a white dress covered in milk bottle tops. We think it's a samba...

Len love loves loves that. You can keep yer Danish fairies...he says...Craig hates the dressing gown.

Gladys the Singaporean judge gives it a 12.

Claudia is backstage interviewing the Danes. Danish boy is a cute pixie but Mr P says he's a spotty oik under all that foundation. Austrian chap keeps mugging to the camera. Now she's interviewing the vampires who aren't ready to go back into their coffins just yet.

It's Jailbait Davetta and slightly creepy Vincent dancing to a Rolling Stones track. Good thing my mum's in Croatia or she might break the telly. Ooooh...it's Paint It Black done pasa doble stylee. Davetta has grown up a bit and...ooops there goes her skirt. Vincent tries to throw her over his shoulder and drops her instead. But it was an artistic drop...and they're doing jive which was always Davetta's star dance.

Len thought it was "nearly great". Craig loves the lift where Davetta leaps onto Craig's back and wraps herself around his waist.

Gladys only gives them an 8. The German gives them a 10 but the rest of the judges hate it. Davetta is very gracious and sweet. But we can't vote for you Davetta!

She's an Olympic champion ice skater. That's cheating isn't it? He looks like he was born in a solarium.

Think this is a pasa doble/samba/chachacha melange. The dress is two sheets held together with some sparkly bits. Lots of posing and throwing of blonde ladies about.

Both Len and Craig thought it was nasty and greasy and foreign. They also hated the man's black satin shirt flapping about like an injured stingray.

She's from Perth. He's from Sydney. They're planning on doing some chachacha/pasa doble/samba and some other stuff that I didn't catch because I was trying to work out if the location shot was somewhere we'd spent her holiday.

Oh no not the skirt coming off again. This isn't Bucks Fizz circa 1982. They've switched the music to the Dick Dale theme tune from Pulp fiction but with some bad hippety hoppety rap nonsense...

Craig: The only Greek thing about that dance was the houmus coloured dress. The judges will probably love it and the man's demi wave is quite ludicrous.

She's a Fado singer partnered with Cristiano Ronaldo...they're really sweet and giggly actually.

Oh she's wearing something with sleeves...there's a first. Oh Ronaldo has just ripped them off. I sense more will come off soon. That skirt looks a bit iffy for starters. He's throwing her around a lot but their footwork is pretty nifty considering they have to skip over piles discarded clothing as they dance. It's like my daughter's bedroom.

Craig and Len think it went as well as could be expected.

The judges hayte it. Len disagrees. I mean I know why the UK is perennially unpopular in Eurovision...but what did Portugal do wrong?

Craig thinks they look sweet. They look terribly wholesome and technically good.

At first glance the dress looks like a one-piece so I don't think anything can come off. Polish chap (actor) moves like a cat and....oh I wrote too soon. In the time it takes to cue up Michael Jackson her white dress has been replaced by a Wonderwoman outfit. They are very very good.

Len: "The best thing was when the white top came off and you could see what a lovely pair they were..."

Craig wants to know if the chap has a twin brother...

Judges go: hmmmmm...and give them 40

Another Olympic gymnast. She looks like a skinny Janine Butcher. Len and Crag have high hopes.

There isn't enough of the young lady's costume to rip off (I could be wrong...) but at least they haven't gone for some jazzed up Ukrainian folk song. About 30 seconds in they start doing cockney braces snapping.

OMG there's a jazzed up Ukrainian folk middle eight...then they go back to the slightly Cuban main song. The Ukrainians in the audience seem to have raided the parks of Glasgow to make flowery head dresses.

Len likes her feet and ankles but hates the routine. Craig just mumbles into his beer.

The judges like it more than they liked Davetta and Vincent...

After some backstage stuff where the dancers arrive at Glasgow airport/lose their luggage/tour the sights of Glasgow. They get a chance to scowl at each other in rehearsal for...

Everybody gets a go at a solo bit. Vlad engulfs his new fiancee in his cape and the Irish go for the full "My Lovely Horse" vote with more tippety tappety dancing. I think they're dancing to an Amy Winehouse but all chantoosies seem to sound like Amy these days. The musicians then decide to channel the Andrews sisters via the Puppinis. And the Poles cheerfully dance the arses off the competition again.

Graham has changed his jacket to something more sporty. Claudia probably has a new set of heels but I can't see. There's a blast of bagpipes which according to Graham means "les lignes sont maintenant closed". And we can look forward do a medley from the new production of Carousel starring Lesley Garrett. The sofa opinion of our Lesley is that she seems like a lovely person but our ex neighbour Marilyn would have done better. In fact she do better about twelve years ago. Though we are of the opinion that opera singers should stay away from jazz so what do we know?

Lesley et all belt through June is bustin' out all over and You'll never walk alone with straight faces. There's a short interval with the backstage interviews and Graham steps in with the scores.

Complicated maths stuff that even Mr P can't explain mean that the UK end up with 8 points and Ireland gets NUL POINTS. Can they make it up with the phone votes? I think not

Sweden gives 8 pts to Denmark. Len says: "Well they are neighbours"; unaware perhaps of Sweden and Denmark's centuries-old animosity.

Austria are a bit more generous to the UK but give the biggest score to Poland. Graham relishes saying: "Goodnight Vienna" because he's like that.

Denmark features Jens who somehow hits Graham's flirt button. The Danes give Ireland 4 pts and the UK 5 pts. Top scores go to Sweden and Poland. Len notes that the Polish lady is getting a bit excited.

Azerbaijani lady milks her moment. Graham looks uncomfortable as the Irish get 6 pts and top marks go to the neighbours in the Ukraine.

Ireland are next and they generously give us 8 points. So that's four points off for 500 years of colonial oppression then? Poland get the top marks. More shots of lovely Polish lady waving her legs around.

Don't bother flirting with Graham Finnish lady; it'll only end in tears. Russia gets the top marks and Len vows to never set foot in Finland again - well he's never been there but now he won't ever go...

Netherlands. Len thinks the Dutch like us. Hmm...I'm thinking: Thirty Years' War...but no I'm wrong. The UK gets 10 points...and Poland gets the top score. So the UK only has another 5o points to catch up with Poland...

Lithuania gets a wave from Graham and they give Ireland 5 points. Azerbaijan gets the top marks and Craig complains that Azerbaijan wasn't even a country when he was at school...

Smiley Carol Smillie briskly gives 8 points to Ireland and Poland get the full marks. Len demands to know why the Irish couldn't reciprocate as generously.

The Russian lady doesn't know Graham either. Obviously the Oleg Gordievsky scandal has had an effect because the UK only get 1 point while the Irish get 8 points. Craig and Len are livid that "plastic tapping stuff" gets more marks than throwing Davetta up and under...

Greece gives Poland enough points to scoot into the lead and offers 12 points to Russia. Eh?

Portugal are next. Graham is getting bored with the flirty ladies and briskly asks for the scores. Russia get the top points and UK gets nothing. Len says his Christmas trip to the Algarve is CANCELLED. Actually his holiday options are narrowing to Rotterdam and Torquay.

There appears to be a power cut in the Ukraine. Russia gets douze points and Graham dismisses the sultry young lady with a wave.

Poland give the UK 1 point. Len: "Every waiter we've got is a Pole and all we get is 1 point." Craig: "Well it's clear that Poland has no taste..." Azerbaijan gets 12 points.

Yep it's Poland. Wonderwoman leaps onto the man next to her. Graham is philosophical. Wonderwoman calms down long enough to put her white dress back on for the victory dance. And we can all get ready for the real event on the 27th...

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