Review: Why Masterchef - gurning Gregg Wallace and everything - brightens up our lives

​Every year, at about this time, I remind myself not to watch Masterchef (BBC1, Mon/Tues/Fri, 8pm). You don’t like the word ‘pan-fried’, I tell myself, the forced jeopardy puts you off, you hate Gregg Wallace.
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​And yet, every year, I find myself watching – slack-jawed, drool dripping from the corner of my mouth, the reheated chilli from last night gently sliding off the plate on my lap.

It’s addictive, you see, like chocolate, or shortbread fingers, or in my case, hot buttered toast.

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The contestants are always – and I mean always – lovely. Genuinely in love with cooking, and desperate to please the two tyrants of the stove, John Torode and the perma-gurning Gregg.

Gregg Wallace judges on BBC1's MasterchefGregg Wallace judges on BBC1's Masterchef
Gregg Wallace judges on BBC1's Masterchef

Yes, they may be slightly annoying – like Johnny, who wore his baseball cap backwards and had me worried bits might fall out of his beard on to his anaemic pressure-cooked chicken.

But they are so, so talented. Delivery driver Matthew is the star of this week. Someone who’s genuine love of food, particularly Caribbean cuisine, makes it to the plate unmediated by emulsions, foams and dusts. Okay, so you won’t even make it to the screen without knowing at least three ways to cook a scallop, but it looks so interesting, so colourful and so tasty.

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Life after Masterchef for Lancashire restaurateur Matt.

It’s wonderfully cosmopolitan, with cooks bringing influences from across the world to liven up our palates, our kitchens, our lives in ways we didn’t even know we wanted – spiced Yorkshire puddings, anyone?

Matthew was the undoubted star of this week's Masterchef on BBC1Matthew was the undoubted star of this week's Masterchef on BBC1
Matthew was the undoubted star of this week's Masterchef on BBC1
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It’s an illustration that food can open our horizons to new lives and new experiences, and even with Gregg ‘phwoaring’ all over the place, that’s something to treasure.

A brand new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (ITV, Sun-Tues, 9pm) has been a terrific watch this week. Wittily written and directed by Hugh Laurie, I would watch a whole series of Lucy Boynton’s Lady Frankie solving country house crimes with devastating bon mots and lovely outfits.

Regular reader(s) of this column will know of my dedication to Taskmaster (Channel 4, Thurs, 9pm) but this series has possibly the jolliest contender ever. Jenny Eclair is clearly having the time of her life on the show, and her giggling ecstasy during this week’s ‘potato hat’ task was an absolute tonic.

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