Step Up to the Plate
Food critic: Loyd Grossman
Cheetah Television for BBC One, 21 July to 7 August 2008 (Episodes 1 to 13)
Cheetah Television for BBC Two, 8 September 2008 to 2 August 2009 (Episodes 14 to 27)
Ingredients: One professional dancer, two professional chefs, three amateur cooks, one food critic, £1000 in prize money per show and a live studio audience.
Recipe: Take the three amateur cooks, tell them to prepare a recipe and provide ingredients, let them practice for a few months. Introduce the cooks to the professional chefs, telling the chefs the menu in the process. Allow the professional chefs to indulge in trash talk, while the polite, cheeky and charming tones of your professional dancer mediates. Have both cooks and chefs explain how they're going to prepare the dish briefly, before giving both cooks and chefs fifteen minutes to actually prepare the starter. During this process, cut to your food critic to give video inserts commenting on the menu in general and the starter specifically. Once the starter is done, wheel out the food critic from backstage, have him blind taste-test the two identical (sort of) dishes, while the chefs and cooks pull faces at each other behind his back while reacting to his comments on the dishes.
Next, send the food critic backstage again, and repeat the preparation of the starter with both the main course and the pudding simultaneously, only with 25 minutes instead of 15, and this time sending the professional dancer back stage to chat with the food critic about what he feels about the main course and pudding given how the starter came out, particularly regarding where both cooks and chefs might go wrong. After they're prepared, wheel him out again, to first judge the main course then the pudding.
Best two out of three, although all three are judged. If the amateur cooks win they get the cash prize, if the professional chefs win, they get nothing but the satisfaction of not being beaten by amateur cooks.
Serve on BBC2, adding any left over prize money to the next dish.
Yes, roughly speaking, this is the cookery equivalent of Eggheads but try not to hold that against it too much; it's quite entertaining despite this. A lot of the entertainment comes from Anton Du Beke, who works the audience while being charming and witty, while Loyd Grossman is clearly enjoying himself despite his somewhat limited role in the show. However, we can't help but wonder why Anton Du Beke is presenting a cookery show on BBC2 instead of, say, a revival of the original Come Dancing as a daily teatime BBC2 show in the It Takes Two slot.
The time the professional chefs had no clue what to do with the ingredients presented them for the dessert, and one of them resorted to going round to the cooks' side of the studio in order to copy off of them.
"Step up to the plate" - which Anton also managed to rework for his next hosting role, on Hole in the Wall.
The final episode eventually went out at 11.30 on a Sunday morning, nearly eight months after the rest of the series.
Recorded at Capital Studios, Wandsworth.