I’ve written before about how underwhelmed we’ve been with the Virgin Media bundle package. It’s 90% hopeless (we still don’t have wireless access for the laptop) but I can openly admit that one element of it is simply super; their catch-up on-demand I-Player is built in to the service and therefore available directly on our tv. If Virgin can do it why can’t the BBC/ITV/C4/Sky? Mystifies me. Earlier today this fabulously neat facility brought me the televisual treat of the season, Celebrity Come Dine With Me, which I missed last night. Oh what an experience. If you’ve not seen it go check it out (on your computers non-Virgins).
Starring a perfect oil and water mix of guests, it featured the incredible shrinking woman Hannah Waterman, who played Walford sex god Ian Beale’s wife Laura in Eastenders (and not a lot since) and who’s gone from a size 16 ginga to a size 6 blondie in a very short time (‘honestly it was all down to exercise and healthy eating’ – umm, sure Hannah) and the very likeable and creative garden designer from Home Front, Diamuid Gavin, who comes across as a genial, generously-spirited and fun Irishman – and having met him I can tell you that WYSIWYG. A real nice guy. Thirdly the quite wacky David Gest, friend to the Jacksons, one of I’m a Celeb’s most engaging participants (even though he did a weird duet thing with is-he-a-lumberjack? Toby Anstis – er no!) and one-time husband to Liza Minelli who he tried to sue for emotional, physical and sexual abuse in the wake of their bitter divorce settlement except the judge threw the case out on the grounds that anyone as funny-looking as he probably deserved it. In Come Dine With Me he sported a cerise brillo pad (which looked like Andrew Neil’s hair-piece on speed) on top of his head of thinning jet black (yeh sure) hair. And finally Loose Women’s Sherrie Hewson who managed, incredibly, to enhance her reputation as Britain’s most ditzy, daffy, dopey dipstick of a woman it’s possible to find on day-time tv, and let’s face, it’s a crowded scene.
You know the format; each contestant cooks for the others one night at a time and then they are scored for their cooking and general entertaining skills for a £1000 prize, which celebs donate to a charity of choice. First up to cook, Hannah, who produced a stilton and broccoli soup for non-fish-eating and very veggie Sherrie (quelle surprise) and wacko David. Sherrie, although liking stilton and broccoli individually, couldn’t take them together it seems. No of course not love. With her first bowlful she spilled a whole bunch of salt into it (deliberately she reckoned) to avoid eating it, and when presented with a second dish simply declared that the combination of the two gave her catarrh which ‘she would have for days’. It’s a well-known medical condition of course that delightful soup produces excessive mucus but only in pond creatures. Then she slagged off the main course and the pudding which contained warmed white chocolate to which, of course, she was hyper-allergic or something similarly dramatic. She crowned the evening by offering 34 year old Hannah a book on how to handle the menopause, which went down rather well. She went home that night and described the evening’s eating ordeal to the watching tv crew from her bath, whilst guzzling whole strawberries. As you do.
Next up Diarmuid who wasn’t great in the kitchen he admitted but who produced some lovely dishes based on traditional Irish flavours. Everyone loved it apart from Sherrie of course, though she did go all lady gaga when she came across Diarmuid’s welcoming surprises; a couple of reindeer. ‘Are they real?’ she asked. No love they’re really starving Africans dressed up and eating hay because they still don’t know it’s Xmas. If the word fuckwit could have been invented for one person it would be for la Hewson. I think she managed some of the food but couldn’t stomach the fact that walnuts appeared on one of his courses. Didn’t he know that sensitive Sherrie couldn’t bear to be in the same room as a walnut? Err.. what? It was at this point that my normally generously-hearted wife said that even she’d come to the conclusion that Sherrie ought to have been strangled at birth or, failing that, when Z-list celebrity status kicked-in at the end of her spell on Corrie.
Step up to the culinary oche cherry-coiffured David Gest, or should I say the lady who does all his cooking which (not who!) David fiddles with part way through. But first off his guests were treated to a jovial Xmas welcome from fat family Claus, then from two delightful female dwarves (don’t ask) and then a very important surprise guest of similar low stature (I think this was all designed to offset Gest’s own height deficiency), Mickey Rooney. Mickey frigging Rooney!!! who I’d imagined had gone to meet his big wig-maker in the sky many years ago. But no he was going strong- well actually he looked semi-detached from what was going on bless him but aware enough to join in a chorus of one of David’s favourite songs from the chorus line. He toddled off in his little flat cap with his rather larger than life wife before the meal began. David’s meal seemed to go down ok with everyone, even Sherrie, who couldn’t remember what he’d prepared apart from some veal which of course comes from baby cows which she thought was horrific. However she got very wistful knowing that she’d been in the presence of a Hollywood giant in meeting, without a hint of irony, diddy Mickey Rooney which she described as one of the most amazing experiences of her life. Aah.
Still the best was yet to come; Sherrie’s own chef’s night. She started by inviting everyone to turn up in ridiculous festive gear (see above) whilst she dressed to kill as Mother Xmas (who?). For openers she offered her thirsty guests an egg nog surprise cocktail which nobody could drink and Diarmuid and Hannah buggered off to the pub for a few bevvies. Main course took two hours to prepare so David joined the other two as they slipped off again to the pub. Their starter had been Yorkshire puddings with jam (I kid you not) and they must have figured that the Xmas turkey dinner wasn’t going to be up to much as they brought back a pizza for dinner. Sherrie threw it on the floor in indignant disgust but it was already clear that she’d been chugging away at Sherrie’s secret sherry and was getting, let’s be generous, a tad forgetful. Her main course actually went down ok but everyone said that they’d waited so long that they could have eaten the contents of her washing bin if it had been fried in garlic. So to the pudding course. Oh dear, Sherrie was reduced to smothering a hot pudding with cold ice-cream using her unwashed fingers whilst adding a few chocolate buttons to capture the attention of any watching Michelin inspectors. Sadly the queen of desserts didn’t make it to the table as an increasingly ‘unsteady’ Sherrie stumbled over the earlier-strewn box of pizza as the hideous white and brown pud went slurping across the stone floor and beautiful kitchen cabinets like a bucket of dog diarrohea. So classy.
It was an unhappy end to the evening as the guests made their escape and awarded her the lowest points ever in the programme’s history. Apparently la Hewson who opined that she was by far the most glamorous of the show’s guests (oh yes) and who felt comfortable at 59 years of age dressing up in biker leather and very short skirts and getting down with the kids has been without a male partner for some years now. It’s really hard to understand why. I’m not sure if it’s the Mensa membership which puts them off or the Mother Theresa award for humility or her enthusiastic approach to new food experiences. Is there a man out there strong enough to get merry with Sherrie?