GORDON RAMSAY threw himself out of a helicopter and then off a Cornish cliff last night, on BBC1.
Before the locals start doing a conga round Polzeath Beach, I should point out he landed safely, with a splash, both times.
In career terms, though, he’s still falling, effing and blinding as he goes and will continue to do so right up until the point he crashes into Channel 5, with a deadening thud.
For the next eight weeks, however, you can watch him plummet away on Gordon Ramsay’s Future Food Stars, which abbreviates, rather appropriately, as FFS and smells like being his second great disaster with the BBC.
The first, of course, was Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance, an entirely forgettable quiz show that sank last year like a Russian ship in Berdyansk harbour, without anyone winning the jackpot.
This new one has attempted to weld SAS: Who Dares Wins on to The Apprentice — at the exact moment many people were questioning the future of both of those shows — with the dual Ant Middleton/Lord Sugar role supposedly filled by Ramsay, who began by telling the young entrepreneurs behind “Britain’s most exciting food and drink ideas” that he was: “Inviting them to take part in a series of challenges. And at the end of the process, I’ll invest £150,000 of my own money in you.
“How does that sound?”
Well, to be honest, it sounds quite miserly, given you can get £100,000 more on The Apprentice and Ramsay’s net worth is estimated at nearly £170million.
But it certainly hasn’t proved any obstacle to the show’s 12 young BS merchants, who say things like “Let’s just press ‘believe’” and have captions that, with an ill will and no local knowledge, could sound more like hardcore dating profiles than businesses.
“Jamie — Mussel bar.”
“Michelle — Clootie dump-lings.” “Asher — Jams, marmalades and chutneys.”
Where FFS does differ from the last very disappointing series of The Apprentice is that it’s actually recruited some proper reality TV originals. People like Bola (full name Hez Bola), who seems to have styled herself on Dick Emery’s Hettie character, short-fused Italian vegan Valentina and a David Brent type called Amit, who boasted: “I run the best food joint in the whole of Malvern. We have customers coming from EVERYWHERE.” Evesham, Redditch, Kidderminster. One day, given the right backing, he may even crack Droitwich Spa as well.
For the moment, though, it’s a combustible enough combination and, sure enough, during the opening street food challenge, Amit fell out with his three female team members, someone else spilt some mango dressing and Valentina lost her s*** over the mushrooms, thundering: “I’m foory-us. Foory-us. Can you not see?”
Oh I can see alright. You’re Tyson Foory-us. What I could also spot, though, was that the very brief cliff-jumping challenge was a smoke and mirrors job designed to stop you noticing what was really going on here. Because, above and beyond the basic format theft, FFS was doing exactly the same street food challenge, in exactly the same location, Cornwall, as The Apprentice did on January 27.
I refuse to believe the BBC didn’t notice this act of grand larceny, so can only assume it’s so stupidly smitten with Ramsay it’s prepared to cannibalise one of the network’s greatest ever shows just to massage his enormous ego and ensure he wasn’t inconvenienced by any travel arrangements.
The very best outcome possible here is that Ramsay finally agrees to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, as the BBC so obviously craves. In the process, though, it’ll help kill off The Apprentice while saddling the Beeb with a cheap knock-off that’s so devoid of purpose, front, dignity and imagination it hasn’t even come up with a decent catchphrase for the final “boardroom” sacking scene. So I’ll have to do it for them.
Vincenzo. You’re fried.
UNEXPECTED MORONS IN THE BAGGING AREA
TIPPING Point, Ben Shephard: “Which island prison in San Francisco bay closed on 21st March 1963?”
Celebrity Mastermind, Clive Myrie: “The baroque composer Vivaldi, born in Venice in 1678, had what first name?”
Eilidh McIntyre: “Paul.”
Lightning, Zoe Lyons: “Which former Labour Shadow Chancellor appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016?”
Charley: “Michael Ball.”
Zoe Lyons: “Opened in 1977, the former New York nightclub located on West 54th Street was Studio . . . ?”
RANDOM TV IRRITATIONS
BAFTA’s latest exercise in woke self-delusion offering nominations to the likes of Steph’s Packed Lunch and Life & Rhymes but not Clarkson’s Farm.
The Saturday Night Takeaway caption writer who doesn’t know the difference between principle and “principal”.
BBC quiz show Lightning slyly inserting Auntie’s all-too-predictable political agenda into its questions.
The Last Leg guest James Acaster beginning a sentence with the words: “If I stop being a comedian . . . ” (Stop?).
And E’s red carpet creep Laverne Cox failing to provide the correct response when Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield said his job was to: “Tell stories and try to heal the world, piece by piece.”
Mate, you dress up as Spider-Man.
CROSS AT THE BRIDGE
AMID all the excitement about its return, one thing is often overlooked about Bridgerton.
It’s s***. Deeply, smugly, fan-waftingly s***. In every meaningful way from the basic set-up (Footballers’ Wives in corsets), to the script, acting, plot and agenda, which has reimagined Regency England as a load of woke b******s.
With the result that all the men are the sort of headstrong numbskulls who could well have existed in 1813, while the women are so feisty, politically aware and indignant they couldn’t have been carbon-dated much further back than quarter past six yesterday evening.
In series one, Netflix did at least mask a lot of these shortcomings with some moderately raunchy sex scenes between Regé-Jean Page’s Duke of Hastings and Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, which were always accompanied with some entertaining captions: “Both grunting and moaning”, “Gasping intensifies”, “Exhales tremulously”.
Series two offers no such distraction, unfortunately. Regé-Jean’s shot his bolt, Daphne’s gone all mumsy and their breathless exertions have been replaced by Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma, who can’t seem to stand the sight of each other, even when they’re having it off in the gazebo during episode seven.
Save yourself the long, tedious journey then by following the usual advice when narrator Lady Whistledown makes her introduction right at the start of the new run: “Dearest, gentle reader, did you miss me?”
Then exhale, tremulously.
MEMORY fail of the week. TV Showdown, Paul Sinha: “Carol, I’m A Celebrity. Where did you finish?”
Vorderman (testily): “Oh I can’t remember.”
Eighth, Carol. And second last in Strictly, 2005.
Happy to help.
GREAT TV lies and delusions of the week. E! Live From The Red Carpet, Andrew Garfield: “Laverne, that’s a beautiful question.”
Starstruck, Sheridan Smith: “This has been a great show.”
Fame In The Family, Lisa: “I’ve been told I look like Gillian Anderson.”
Lisa, the truth isn’t out there.
FOR those not quite up to speed with Channel 4’s celebrity DNA guessing game Fame In The Family: The Only Way Is Essex fixture Arg learnt he shares three great-grandparents with Katie, from Essex.
Lisa, from Stoke-on-Trent, discovered she was second cousins with AJ and Curtis Pritchard, who were both born in Stoke-on-Trent.
And chef Rustie Lee, who’s originally from Portland, in Jamaica, was utterly gobsmacked when it was revealed her third cousin (once removed) was Rhoannan, whose family was originally from Portland, Jamaica.
Stay tuned for more DNA bombshells . . .
LOOKALIKE OF THE WEEK
Sent in by Davey Boy.
Picture research: Amy Reading
GREAT SPORTING INSIGHTS
PAUL MERSON: “If Bournemouth win today they’ll be spread-eagled.”
Marc Guehi: “I want to be in England teams to come and also in the future.”
Michael Dawson: “Forest have lost three of their back five in Scott McKenna and Max Lowe.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray)
INCIDENTALLY, if Starstruck’s three Lionel Richie impersonators became a cruise ship act, would they be Dancing On The Sealink?
JOHN C REILLY’S outstanding performance as Dr Buss on TV’s best show, Winning Time: The Rise Of The Lakers Dynasty (Sky Atlantic).
Channel 4’s enthralling Falklands War: The Untold Story, although it should’ve been a six-part series.
The entire cast of Netflix’s Top Boy.
Will Smith and Chris Rock saving the Oscars from their worst woke instincts.
And Viscount Bridgerton’s death-by-bee-sting scene, during episode three of Bridgerton, which left son Anthony stuttering: “To see such a great man felled by such a small creature, it was, um . . . ”
Funny. Very, very funny.