Last Night’s TV: Gordon Ramsay Cookalong Live

Scallops. Steak. Mousse. Done. If only it was that easy. To say cooking along with Gordon Ramsay for an hour was a bit frantic is like referring to the Scottish chef as a politely spoken gentleman.

The basic idea was quite good, Ramsay would guide you through a simple three course meal step by step and you could have your TV in the kitchen and cook along with him live. All your ingredients were prepped as the instructions on Channel 4’s website, leaving the rest of the process relatively simple. Or so you thought.

While the show itself was highly entertaining with Ramsay and perfect foil Chris Moyles from Radio 1 displaying hilariously childish but amusing schoolboy innuendo throughout, as far as production went, it looked as if it had been planned by a playground personnel.

The camera-work was so shaky, fast-paced and badly directed that it was almost farcical at times, jumping to empty shots on occasions, leaving you desperately wondering how to cook something you never got to see for more than the merest glimpse at a time.

In addition to these studio-based antics, the producers decided to also feature members of the public via webcam who were also cooking along. Unfortunately Channel 4 seemed to have sent a runner down to the nearest Argos with some loose change to russle up the cheapest webcams they could find. The images came across so blurry and the sound so distorted that the people, including for no particular reason a nudist who provoked even more childish gags, that before you had worked out they were saying “Hello Gordon” they had gone again without even a glimpse of what they were cooking.

Regular Ramsay cohort Janet Street Porter was also featured, although she had wisely invited a real camera crew to her house so the images were much clearer. Shame the sound was still awful, although there’s not much you can do about her grating voice.

Given the speed of the whole program – in one hour they managed to fit in all of the above plus three pre-filmed Ramsay versus D-list celebrities taste challenges – it is hard to imagine that anyone would have managed to cook and eat the three courses anywhere near perfectly, which largely detracted from the whole exercise.

Despite Ramsay quipping “…and not a fucking chicken in sight” when outlining the ingredients, you felt that this had very little to do with the ethos of Channel 4’s previous offerings in the Food Fight campaign. Even a phonecall from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall halfway through the show was exceptionally awkward, with Ramsay seemingly desperate to get him off the line.

Still, the program as a simple Friday night watch made good light entertainment, if only for Ramsay and Moyles’ crude comments towards the guests. It was hardly food for thought as Messers Oliver and Fearnley-Whittingstall had provided, but something a lot more snacksize and accessibile at least.