Over the years I’ve invested myself in a number of TV shows and while most were a decent watch, I’ve never really felt that I would be comfortable settling down with any of them. The day I found Come Dine With Me this all changed. Come Dine With Me is simply the perfect show. If ever you were looking for a TV show that had everything then look no further.
The Premise of the show is simple; 4 random people that have never met volunteer to hold dinner parties for each other during the course of one week. Each night after the party, in their taxis home, the guests secretly rate the dinner with a score out of ten. After each night the scores are combined to get a total for each person. The host with the highest score at the end of the week wins the prize of £1000. Simple right? Wrong, each show offers us a host (get it?) of human emotions to feast (I can’t stop myself) upon. In almost all shows we see guests trading saccharin pleasantries but as soon as they’re away from the other diners they bare their teeth. It’s almost surprising not to see the guests bitching about each other as soon as they get a moment to themselves. The people selected each week aren’t even that odd. It doesn’t feel like channel 4 has done a wife swap on us here and just stuck absolute freaks in a house. These are normal people but more often that not they manage to fall out. Put £1000 into the mix and watch everyone show their true colours.
The scores they give at the end of each night generally sum up how meretricious the guests are; more than often are the words, “A great night, couldn’t fault it. I award them a 7” uttered. What always puzzles me though is how they don’t want the others to know what they think of them yet they are willing to voice their opinions on television. This show possesses the drama of Big Brother but with regular people, without the social stigma plus it’s educational.
Dave Lamb narrates the show adding sarky jibes whenever necessary (which is all too often). When someone makes fried shrimp with “Marie Rose” sauce (a subtle blend of ketchup and mayonnaise) from a can then I think I’d feel quite hard done if I didn’t have Dave Lamb there to openly criticise them in front of the nation.
This show is actually incredibly educational. It’s not just the cooking; this show critically examines human psychology and even goes so far as to explore the different cultures present within the British Isles. In terms of cooking this show is better than any other; there are recipes which are simple, recipes which are complex and recipes which are just right. On top of that the diners actually give decent reviews instead of us having to assume that everything that Jamie Oliver cooks tastes good (it doesn’t). So within the program you can find recipes which suit any occasion be it braised pork belly with gnocchi, pea cream, crushed peas with mint and a madeira sauce (that’s actually one of my own, I’m saving it for if I ever go on the show) or tuna, kidney beans and mayo mixed in a bowl with some chopped onion (recipes available on the channel 4 website). It’s quite nice to watch tv cooks that don’t say, “pukka” in a stupid Essex boy accent before smothering their food in olive oil too. Other than the cooking you can pick up some good tips about dinner parties from watching the show (don’t assume your guests have taste being a key concept). Sometimes it’s just funny to watch them mess up, I often find myself going “tsk, you don’t use extra virgin olive oil in a pistachio and olive oil cake, rookie mistake”. Of course it’s much funnier when they serve a banana sliced lengthwise and give each guest tableside UHT whipped cream out of a can (classy) or when one of the guests serves raw food and makes some of the others throw up.
The four dinner parties are set over four episodes (an episode for each party if it wasn’t obvious). With the first episode you feel just as new to the whole situation as the four diners do. By the fourth episode I promise you’ll feel as if you were there. In short each episode is an emotional rollercoaster. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and at times I’ve found myself screaming at the telly “what do you mean you’ve never eaten scallops?! You’re a F****** professional chef! Your mother should have had an abortion!”… I sometimes get a bit too involved.
Once in a while the show hosts a Celebrity Come Dine With Me which is educational in its own right; you discover several new celebrities that you didn’t realise existed (Helen Lederer, David Quantick and Rowland Rivron to name a few). Aside from this the celebrity specials are essentially the same as the regular episodes except you might be slightly more interested in seeing Peter Stringfellow’s apartment than Steve Clift from Doncaster’s.
I know the show has a predominantly female following and I know what most men reading this article are thinking, “My mum watches this show while doing the ironing, I’m watching Top Gear”. Well thing about it this way lads; when (aside from doing the ironing) when does your mum watch the TV? She doesn’t right (perhaps except for the news at breakfast) so why is Come Dine With Me the only show she watches? The answer is simple; it’s the best. Between cooking for you, cleaning, ironing and doing the washing her only real relief is watching this show. So not only should you watch this show but thank it for the sanity of your mother. For those of you whose mothers don’t watch this show then your mother’s next birthday present is sorted… and your dad’s.
Before Come Dine With Me came into my life the only thing that could cheer me up after a long day was Spongebob Squarepants, or maybe High School Musical at a push, but at 19 I felt I was perhaps getting too old for that. The response that I give to someone when they say they’ve never seen it is comparable to one I might give to someone that had just told me they were dying or came from Leeds; a look of pure pity. Just go watch the show, nuff said.