Why I Love Celebrity Masterchef..

CELEBRITY MASTERCHEF Starts on Monday 13th August, BBC2, 6.30pm.. or if you have a job, it’ll be on the iPlayer every night.

After much Olympic mania over the past fortnight, I was beginning to wonder what would fill the void left by an absence of track, field and velodrome action. Thankfully there’s no need to panic, because there’s more on-screen competition in store for viewers as Celebrity Masterchef is back with a new host of Z-list, wannabe chefs desperate to take the coveted prize. Let’s have a look at why I can’t WAIT for its much anticipated return…

1) THE CONTESTANTS – Celebrity by name, Celebrity not by nature

Each year Celebrity Masterchef finds itself dogged by criticism over the questionable celebrity status of the contestants. For those who are fans of the show, this is not a moot point. The real charm of this programme is in identifying with the hopefuls as they embark upon this culinary quest, not to ponder on their individual celebrity league-table ranking. It’s Celebrity Masterchef, who are you expecting? Lady Gaga and Barack Obama?

As they face a series of tasks some will fall flat on their faces whilst others will go from strength to strength, in much the same vein as their various careers (many of which have already gone down the pan). This year there are some well-known characters; Anne Charleston (Madge from Neighbours), former pop star Gareth Gates, TV Presenter Jamie Theakston and unsurprisingly a few athletes in the form of Steve Parry and Rebecca Romero, but I’m most looking forward to Laila Rouass (Holby City and Footballers Wives) and comedian Jenny Eclair, whose name is perfect for this show isn’t it?

No doubt there will be some highs and lows for these competitors – but the real question is who will Go for Gold and who will be left with egg on their face? Only time will tell…

2. JOHN TORRODE AND GREGG WALLACE – Judge not, Lest Ye Be Judged

Ahh yes, Masterchef wouldn’t be the same without this culinary Little and Large pairing. These two have become the middle-aged Ant an Dec of the gastro-world, and the rapport between them is a joy to watch. It’s with much anticipation that I look forward to John’s plethora of faces each series as he oversees the cook-offs and tastes the contestants food – if there were an Olympic medal for face-pulling Torrode would be right up there with The Apprentice’ Nick Hewer for the top prize. And as for Gregg Wallace, when this man tells us ‘Cooking doesn’t get tougher than this,’ we forget all about the 50 shades of Christian Grey!

3. THE INVENTION TEST – When you say Tomato, I say Tomahto!

The toughest challenge of the competition and one that is heavily used in early rounds, the Invention Test is always my favourite part of the programme and is greatly feared by the participating celebs. Contestants are provided with an intimidating range of ingredients and have just five minutes to decide on what to use in order to produce two sumptuous dishes for the judges. As the amateur chefs stare in mystery at the selection before them, it’s always amusing to spot the ones who grab a scaly fish off the tray claiming to love seafood, inform an astounded John and Gregg that they are cooking Salmon only to be informed that what they have before them on their work station is actually Lemon Sole. Taxi for the novice, please!

4. The Guest Judges – aka The Death Eaters

Gregg tells us that cooking doesn’t get tougher than this, and never is this more true that when the guest judges arrive to throw their opinions into the mix. Whether it be the bitchy, cake-baking cronies from the W.I. or the legendary food critics Kate Spicer and Jay Rayner, who for some reason bring Family Guy’s Peter Griffin (Charles Campion) along for good measure, the guest judges turn their noses up at most of the food presented to them.

Those who dare to showcase baked goodies to W.I. queen-of-the-hairband Amy Willcock are often met with sheer disgust as their souffles wither and chocolate fondants run dry, whilst Jay Rayner provides a cutting, acerbic description of most dishes that come his way. All in all, the guest judges provide some much-needed spice to what is otherwise a fairly saccharine competition.

5. The Unlikely Winners – aka Phil Vickery

Every year there are front-runners from the word-go, but one of the best things about Celebrity Masterchef are the unlikely characters who tend to take the title. Last year was a classic example, as gargantuan Rugby ace Phil Vickery stole the Masterchef crown. Despite reminding us of cuddly, cauliflower-earred cave troll, Vickery impressed task after task proving that even the BFG can produce tasty yet elegant gobbles.

Sadly there are no giants in this years line-up, but a motley crew none the less and there are certain to be some surprising culinary wizards amongst the bunch.

Follow Rebecca Jordan on Twitter..