Do you remember, dear readers, the reboot of this in 2005? I sure as heckfire do. To be honest, I don’t recall much, except that the splendid Thomasina Miers won it and the fact they’d tacked ‘Goes Large’ to the title, in a misguided bid for the yoof vote, I’d imagine.
Now, it’s very different. My son has put an embargo on me referring to now as ‘these strange times’: the phrase that pops up in every conversation, email, Zoom meet (how we’ve changed!); that permeates wistful glances through plastic shields in shops and to fellow comrades on the street, as if we’re in a never ending Orwellian masked ball, albeit a Poundland version.
Where was I? Oh yes, Masterchef. My point is, it’s shrunk quite considerably. Hasn’t trended on Twitter yet, but maybe that’ll happen when more knives come out. Where we once had three past champs (oft including a mere finalist) to impress with fondants, jus and the like, now it’s only two and they’re all bona fide winners.
The fleet of critics, sabre teeth rattling, are no more, just The Grace Dent coming to sample their puds. I add ‘The’ in because she has a shade of the diva about her, although nowhere near the horrifying level of The GC. And you know there ain’t gonna be any restaurant kitchens upcoming - not a bad thing in my eyes, it increasingly looked like a PR exercise for the establishment, where head chefs tried to outdo Ramsay with their shouting.
Anywhere, there I go, rushing ahead to the end in my undisciplined ‘not strange times’ disorderly fashion. Torode (Toady) and Wallace (Shrek) are still there, although surely you’d think there’d be a limit to the amount of buttery biscuit bases you could get excited by. There used to be an element of Jack Sprat and his wife in their appearances, now….let’s just say some people have been sampling more in lockdown than others. Not Shrek though. He’s still a boiled egg, but a streamlined one, with natty plum waistcoat to prove it and a predilection for saying ‘HowEVer’ every five seconds, as if he’s a doc delivering a bad diagnosis, rather than commenting on some mash.
So, a parade of panna cottas later and early promise faded for Mike and Ross. Why is there an insistence on the wobble factor for this unappealing looking blancmange-y type thing (which I think they both delivered, but my soggy-bottomed brain can’t really recall)? My chum Saul, who joins me in a text-a-thon throughout (I’ve nicked some of his lines), and is the reason why I can remember anything about it all, claims they must wobble ‘because Charles Campion RIP said so’. Surely all food wobbles as it goes down your gullet…?
Tom has already set out his stall as Winner. I suspect he’s been taking online lessons and reading every recipe under the sun this last year. Not cheating as such, just Boy Scout preparedness, but just not cricket, old son.
Episode Two brought a colourful bunch, who you could definitely see fronting a rebooted Rainbow or maybe even occupying the Teletubbies skins. Gary’s trousers were just too much, sapping all rational thought from his cranium.
So, onto the Friday eliminator. In The GD sails, always positioning herself as if there were a bejillion paps present, rather than Toady, Shrek and four nervous hopefuls. Puddings today, and it was Battle Royale with the Sticky Toffee. Steph’s perfectly decent one failed only cos there was better in the room, nowt wrong with it at all. Tom’s was allegedly brilliant, despite looking like part of Sydney Opera House had landed on it in tuile form. And then, both Laura and Madeeha got through. We could see that coming, the element of surprise has long since gone for this puppy, but they were charmingly astonished. They wanted to hug, but instead had to awkwardly grin at each other, as if at their first teenage party. Strange times for them, clearly.
I promised my sons I wouldn’t watch Love Island again. I got embroiled in one season (the ‘Jack and Dani’ one, who acquired the moniker ‘Jani’, I believe). I was ‘addicted’, my offspring claimed derisively, even though I joined midway through. With nightly instalments, there were so many hours to fill you could barely tell what was recap and what was new. Answer: Nothing new. Just sunkissed/burned flesh and a collection of unwelcome words to the lexicon.
Anyway, that was then, this is now. Bring on The Love Trap. Not as wholesome as the Von Trapps. But perhaps not ‘the most immoral show on TV’, which I heard it described as somewhere. Seriously?! Have these people not trawled through the higher numbers of the telly options? They might get a surprise.
The Love Trap is only on once a week, which is a big bonus. Large house, a ‘mansion’ no less, filled with girls on the hunt to find love and one frightened looking chap. So, who are the traps in the love shack? Well, that’s what our handsome hunk has to determine. The traps are already in relationships and only there to get £20k, which is a tidy amount, but not enough to put your future marital harmony on the line for, surely. If he gets it right, presumably they waltz off into the sunset together at the end of the show. What happens if he’s wrong…? A girl might want to have and eat said cake, ditching old boyfriend in the blink of an eye and getting cash and marry, so to speak.
David is the muscled hunk in question. He’s a personal trainer, so does have a ‘lorra lorra’ muscles, as the late Cilla might have opined. He seems nice enough, if slightly befuddled by the attention. He was previously on ‘Too Hot to Handle’, but that liaison went wrong. Rather than sticking to Tinder like the rest of us, here he is again, suffering in a luxury mansion with damsels pouring themselves all over him, in and out of hot tubs, supping on bubbly. I’ve changed my mind. This is immoral. He’s had his turn, goddamit.
His boudoir, from whence he verily does his push-ups, has a four-poster bed. The women are all bundled together into one smallish room, sharing beds. You’re telling me the mansion doesn’t have more rooms? Of COURSE it does. We know the bed-sharing is meant to titillate.
The room none of them want to visit is the sinister lower chamber, with faux Grecian décor. Because what do love traps deserve…? A trap door, of course. The ejected female exits foot-first into an unseen cellar, only to pop up on a video shortly after to declare if they’re a ‘match or a trap’ in tones as awkward as Kirstie Allsopp declaring ‘Love it or List it’. This is, in effect, what David has just done: Didn’t want this one, let’s pop it on Ebay.
We have no proof the women survive the drop; that video could have been filmed beforehand. After Squid Game, we all see death and destruction round every corner. It would be most excellent if their departure was accompanied by bloodcurdling screams and the sound of a thousand piranhas munching. Maybe if it was on Channel 5…
Poor David, with all this lusciousness to choose from, needed assistance from old chum Alessandra. She entered as mole, putting out feelers to elicit who had genuine feelings as the rivals trowelled on their warpaint in the dressing room. Some of those make-up kits are bigger than the ladies themselves.
Previously new arrival Suzel declared almost immediately that Alessandra was a plant, which seems a bit rich as she’d only been there a day herself and shortly after entering had eaten the chocolate-dipped strawberry David had offered as if it was the last food on Earth. She does bear a passing resemblance to a young Ivanka Trump though, which tells you all you need to know. The suspicion was mutual, as Suzel found herself once more in the trap door room. Disappointingly, it was Saran who was surprisingly ejected. A great shame, as she had a nice throaty laugh and looked like you could go out for a quick pint together, without her needing to spend an hour putting on eyelashes that are longer than the average colon. Perhaps the power is in the lashes, like Samson...