Will there or won't there be a series 13 of Masterchef, the BBC has yet to confirm - but with the UK franchise still getting audience figures of 5 million for the series 12 final, I reflect on what has made the TV series so successful. The answer. Gregg Wallace.
As the article below brilliantly describes, Gregg's beautifully descriptive language, lures you in and takes you, the viewer, with him on his sensory, culinary journey. For me it's all about his passion.
Back in 2001, I was lucky enough to make a TV series with Gregg Wallace and his then 'partner in food' the wonderful Charlie Hicks. At the time, Gregg and Charlie co-hosted a Radio 4 series called Veg Talk - and it was their passion for food as well as their unparalleled knowledge, which prompted our Exec Producer to pick up the phone and tempt them over TV.
'Follow That Tomato' commissioned by BBC Food Network, involved Gregg, Charlie and I driving through Italy, with an Italian crew, meeting local producers; learning about and eating their incredible produce. And there was a lot of eating - the Italians perhaps the most hospitable people I have ever had the joy to meet. Starting right down in the heel of Italy in Calabria, working our way up to Milan, Gregg and Charlie wooed, amused and delighted everyone with their enthusiasm and passion. There goes that word again.
Not all the people we interviewed spoke much if any English, our soundman spoke none - but it didn't matter. Gregg's expressive, animated, positive energy was infectious and through a combination of Italian phrase books, Gregg's facial expressions and charades, he and they communicated. It was a joy to watch. To this day, despite all his Masterchef accomplishments, it was when foraging for truffles in Umbria, cooking rabbit on a fire of heather and herbs on Ischia, tasting lemons straight from the tree in Sorento, when Gregg's passion for food and history explodes onto the screen - and illustrates, exquisitely, the Art of Communication.
Whatever comes your way next Gregg, I hope it's out on location, unscripted and doing something you love.
So it’s my guilty pleasure, watching MasterChef, and last week I was sad to see the series end. I like the disasters as much as the breathtaking successes and always end up resolving to make my own gnocchi (but never quite getting round to it). But most of all I love watching Greg Wallace (no, not like that). I know what you’re thinking – ‘Greg Wallace, isn’t he the cockney chancer who doesn’t seem to know much about being a chef?” Well, I’ll let you in to a little secret, something that the MasterChef producers have known for years. Greg Wallace makes MasterChef. He’s the *terrible metaphor alert* egg that binds together the MasterChef gateau. The reason? He’s a brilliant communicator.