Last night, during Masterchef, I slid gently off the wagon. My dear friend was cooking dinner to a menu carefully planned for my enjoyment by her ten-year-old son. We began with nibbles which I'd taken over - savoury twists and breadsticks with guacamole ('I love nibbles,' said the ten-year-old happily) and some gorgeous sauvignon blanc, while we watched her cook. By the time she was ready to serve the food, or 'plate up' as we Masterchef viewers say, the ten-year-old and I were helpfully yelling 'PUSH! PUSH!', although I'm not sure Dear Friend was enjoying this quite as much as we were; I think she muttered something about not being in labour thankyouverymuch, although it was difficult to hear her over our guffaws. She produced a fabulous meal of egg noodles and stir-fried veg in a savoury broth topped with poached organic salmon fillets, followed by lime and ginger cheesecake. Fortunately, this enabled us to watch the Masterchef final without drooling. Just.
The three of us snuggled down under a huge fake fur throw on Dear Friend's comfy leather sofa. I'd gone into the final as an Andy supporter, while Dear Friend was in the Mat camp, and the 10-year-old was swinging between the two. By halfway through we were all rooting for Mat who seemed to have the edge when it came to originality and flair. Chris's food was terrific, but he made a couple of minor errors that put him out of the running. Andy was a definite contender. All three cooked the food they love, and cooked it to an incredibly high standard, but Mat had the most clearly definable personal style. I think this, combined with his evident skill, was what swung the result.
The programme, as with all reality TV, was carefully edited to ratchet up tension for the viewer. Background music was ominous, pauses were long, voice-overs from Wallace and Torode posed questions carefully designed to maximise viewer worry. 'Will Chris overcome his inexperience?' 'Can Andy maintain the necessary attention to detail?' 'Will Mat be able to manage his presentation?' Dear Friend and I took all this in our stride, but the ten-year-old cracked under the strain in the last five minutes, diving beneath the furry throw and re-emerging every minute or so to peek and wail 'I can't stand it!'. He blew huge whoofs of relief when the result was finally announced.