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Hell’s Kitchen UK – a waste of even some meagre talents

Following Marco’s evaluation of their performance in the first episode, Adrian Edmondson and Linda Evans will spend the second episode as waiters. Ade thinks it “could all go very wrong”. Linda adds “because I don’t know what I’m doing!”. Will there be comic shenanigans?

Let’s find out…

Claudia starts us off with what is, I think, meant to be a witty intro. It’s not. Ade and Linda are dressing for service and Ade is complaining that his apron is too tight. Um, loosen it, then? He says he feels like Rene from “Allo Allo” so I’m hoping for some badly executed French accents. He’s so focussed on keeping his stomach sucked in that he fails to pay attention to Maitre d’ Nick’s instructions. That’s a good start. Ade and Linda greet the first guests. Linda breaks with the usual tradition of service by shaking the hands of the diners at her first table. Ade falls down the steps and then unsuccessfully tries to remember what the menu is. We see him showing off his blister to various diners, whilst Linda struggles with a table of women who don’t seem to want to eat anything.

Back in the kitchen, Marco sharpens his knives in a manner that can only be described as menacing. Anthea messes up a fennel order and it all seems to fall apart for her. Marco starts pacing, Nick messes up an order, and Jody is fretting over an undercooked lamb. He grovels a bit and reaps some praise.

Aaaaaand service is over already. What?

We hear from some diners who think the service was great but they didn’t like the “cat food”. We haven’t been told what the menu is, but I’d be surprised if “cat food” made the carte.  Earlier, Linda was adding some garnishes to what looked like a steak tartare, so let’s assume that’s what our diners had.  Nick provides the numerical verdict which I’m guessing is an average of all the diner response cards. I’m a big believer in “show, don’t tell”, but the producers could help us out just a wee bit with how this works. It’s been a few years and there have been some changes. Anyway, the scores are: 6/10 for starters, 7/10 for mains, 8/10 for service for an overall score of 7/10. What does this mean? Well, Marco anoints Jody as the best and Anthea as the weakest. This show is really badly put together – we didn’t see anything of the kitchen apart from Jody’s undercooked lamb and Anthea’s fennel stuff up, yet they are the best and worst respectively. Fortunately (I guess) this doesn’t matter, since being the best seems to have no reward and being the worst carries no consequences. Marco closes the evening by promising that tomorrow he will “step out” during the next service and hand over the reins to one of the celebs. Danielle says she’d step up and, given that she’s spent both services so far being mentored on exactly that by Marco, this would seem fair. We shall see.

Claudia acknowledges that this show has been edited by malfunctioning prototype production-bots, saying that we are probably at home feeling confused. God. To make us feel better, she tells us that “the contestants are in the same boat”. This will apparently be demonstrated, for our entertainment, in the next challenge: the celebs are to replicate the dishes on the menu with no recipe, and no help from Marco. Linda reads: “turbo, toona, lamb”. There’s a confusing conversation where Ade seems to say that, because he’s already done the lamb, he doesn’t want to have to show someone how to do it. There is no I in Vyvyan.

Linda, Niomi and Danielle are working on the tuna. Bruce, Jody and Ade are doing the lamb so I guess Anthea and Grant are making the turbot. Grant seems to be helping Anthea a lot, which prompts a mildly bitchy interview from Ade who resents Grant’s self-importance. He does seem to be very annoying.

Time’s up. Marco walks in and Niomi’s interviews that she “doodoos” herself. Ade says he’s never been so frightened of anyone. At first, he attributes that to Marco’s physical presence, but then concedes that it might have something to do with the enormous knife he’s carrying. Even the camerabot is scared, if the shakiness of the shot is anything to go by.

Marco tries Jody’s lamb and likes it. Niomi likes her fish “well done”; it’s overcooked by Marco’s standard, but he thinks it’s a good effort. Grant’s turbot is up next, and we don’t hear Marco’s opinion. We then see Anthea’s almost identical turbot dish. Grant admits that he’s helped Anthea “because she’s my wife”. Ade’s gamble with HP Sauce has paid off, although Marco suggests that he should have put it on the side, rather than on the plate. How did Danielle go? Bruce? Jody? Linda? Who knows, but we do find out that Anthea’s dish was Marco’s favourite. Again, this acknowledgement is meaningless. Not meaningless enough, though, to escape Ade’s envy. He interviews that she won “but how hard can it be to cook turbot? And anyway, Grant cooked it for her”.

Now, we are back in the dining room and… is this another service? Haven’t we seen this already? Amongst the diners is Chris de Burgh and Claudia encourages him to sing. She’s wearing black, thank god, so he improvises a little ditty based on his dining experience.

Back in the kitchen Marco is reminding the chefs that someone will be taking over the pass – and that if they’re chosen it might not be because he thinks they’re any good, but rather because it will “expose” them. Who will be exposed? Bruce says he’d like to be called out, as does Jody, so obviously they weren’t really paying attention to what Marco actually said. Or they’re exhibitionists.

Shots of racing around, things catching on fire, people shouting “yes Marco, yes Marco”. Claudia thinks it’s like a game show. She’s wrong – even a very, very bad game show has some structure and some prizes.

Grant is put on the pass (“much to his pleasure”, interviews Jody) and starts imitating Marco. Grant interviews in the third person again. The only surprise is that it’s only Ade and Jody who seem to despise him – pompous twit. He doesn’t know how the dishes should look, so Danielle is really doing the work.

Service is finally over, so Claudia interviews the “reigning jungle champion”, which just goes to show that this show could benefit from subtitles, because WTF? Probably not a good idea for the host to tell her interview subject that he shouldn’t talk straight to camera because “they can’t talk back and they’re probably nodding off”. Sure, it’s insightful, but if you’re putting that into the final cut, perhaps you should think about re-editing the program so we don’t nod off!

(Curtis Stone – I don’t think the woman on the deli counter cares what you are going to do with the kalamata olives.)

We see some diners giving feedback and Giles Coren said it was one of the best meals he’s had this year. Was he being sarcastic? Mains 7/10, Grant 5/10 (how can the diners really evaluate Grant?), Adrian 9/10, Linda 9/10. Ade’s not going to miss services because “it’s so tiring being so insincere for so long”. Marco asks the celebs for their opinions of Grant at the pass. Bruce thinks there were too many people at the pass and Jody says that Grant coped with the pressure quite well and that he was well-supported by the girls.

Who will be the waiters to morrow? Claudia says the waiter selection is also known as “guess who’s annoyed Marco the most” and then mugs “is it me?”. God, please. Although if she was a waiter, we’d still have to see her.  Can’t she be… the cleaner?  Grant is going to be a waiter. Not because he’s dong badly, but because Marco can see that he’s been drained by service. Will he introduce himself to diners in the third person? Jody is a waiter because he needs to regain his equilibrium.

The show ends with Claudia squealing like a groupie because Marco smiled at her. We lost Angus Deayton for this?