Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled
TV talent contests make life increasingly difficult for the rest of us. To be merely an averagely talented amateur these days is to be an abject failure.
Take AJ Odudu’s astonishing jive steps in the opening round of Strictly. If several of her rivals appeared to have been practising for weeks, AJ danced like a pro with a lifetime’s experience.
And though we’ve reached only the second week of The Great British Bake Off (C4), the showstoppers are already sensational. This is no longer a cake competition for enthusiasts — it’s a perfection parade. Forget your sponges and your fancy Battenbergs. Take those into work and they’ll impress nobody. You might as well get a box of doughnuts from Greggs.
And though we’ve reached only the second week of The Great British Bake Off (C4), the showstoppers are already sensational. This is no longer a cake competition for enthusiasts — it’s a perfection parade
The baked confections on show in this week’s final round were worthy of any Parisian patisserie. Rochica made a working pinball machine. Chigs created a snooker table, with tiny coloured icing balls that rolled into real pockets.
Crystelle built a vanity table for a doll’s house. George designed a gingerbread plane that flew in circles over fluffy clouds of cake.
With standards so high, this could be a year for precision engineering to flourish in the tent. Every series has one middle-aged chap who uses slide rules and spreadsheets to hone his recipes. This time, it is German physicist Jurgen, who looks like he could split the atom as easily as slicing a jam roly-poly.
This was biscuit week and the bakers were slightly foxed by the challenge of creating Jammie Dodgers that looked like they came off a factory production line.
Even the fluting on the underside had to be reproduced. Lizzie had no idea what that meant, and read it as ‘flutting’. ‘Learn a new thing every day,’ she shrugged, when corrected — but really, ‘flutting’ sounds much more biscuity.
Now completely at ease in their double act, presenters Noel and Matt were goading each other to fresh heights of surreal silliness.
Every series has one middle-aged chap who uses slide rules and spreadsheets to hone his recipes. This time, it is German physicist Jurgen (pictured), who looks like he could split the atom as easily as slicing a jam roly-poly
‘Hello and welcome to the Matt Lucas show,’ declared Matt. He gestured at Noel and the judges, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith: ‘With my special guests, the Beverley Sisters.’
Sporting dagger-like sideburns and black hair pulled back in a ponytail, Noel Fielding looked like a chubby Samurai. He went into raptures at the thought of Paul’s buttocks, ‘like two beige moons dancing in the sky’. Retired midwife Maggie, 70, gasped: ‘I’m far too old for that . . . though the thought is rather nice.’
Saucy reminiscences are the mainstay for many of the stand-up comedians and comic actors swapping anecdotes with Alan Davies on his freewheeling chat show, As Yet Untitled (Dave). Joanne McNally recounted how she took revenge on an ex, while Harriet Kemsley described her humiliation in a Bikini Babe contest. But the best stories belonged to Richard Ayoade, one of the favourites to be the next Doctor in the Tardis.
Saucy reminiscences are the mainstay for many of the stand-up comedians and comic actors swapping anecdotes with Alan Davies on his freewheeling chat show, As Yet Untitled. Joanne McNally (pictured) recounted how she took revenge on an ex
Richard, who rarely talks about his personal life, held the other guests enthralled as he casually described his 1980s childhood in East Anglia. His Nigerian father worked as a TV repairman, his mother — who came to England from Norway aged 16 — ran a chocolate shop, where Richard worked every afternoon. ‘I was the Oompa Loompa,’ he said.
Only child Richard didn’t have birthday parties. His parents couldn’t afford them. His one big outing, to a Happy Eater roadside restaurant when he was ten, ended in disaster, after his dad became fed up with waiting for their food and took him home.
The audience ‘Oohed’ and ‘Aahed’ in sympathy. ‘What is this,’ asked an embarrassed Richard, ‘The Generation Game?’