Though we’ve been keeping up with this over at Swineshead Towers, and despite its enormous similarities to The Apprentice, there’ll be no weekly breakdown of each episode as Badger Madge over at BMTV seems to be making a decent fist (titter) of it herself over here… and here. It’s undoubtedly improved on the first series and there’s a lot to enjoy in joining the affable Raymond Blanc as he orders a load of wannabe restauranters to undergo tests that would make any normal human being unravel within minutes.
Just as a taster, last night’s saw the teams of two – who each have been given their own restaurant for the duration of the show – delivered half a pig each and set the task of cooking and selling as much of the squealer as possible. Marks would be given for profit and then deducted for wastage. The format is exactly the same as the Apprentice and remarkably it doesn’t suffer from the transposition, apart from in one area.
Nick and Margaret are, by now, firm favourites when it comes to how Apprentice fans feel. The incredulous looks on their disgusted faces have become a part of the fabric of the show. In their place, on The Restaurant Monsieur Blanc is shanked by a couple of thorough bastards. Not cantankerous, lovable silver foxes like Sugar’s charges – these are just oily, smug shitbags and they take a bit of the fun away from proceedings.
David Moore wanders into the restaurants with the kind of fixed, shit-eating grin that lets you know that he thinks you’re shit before he’s even seen the supposed shitness of your shit and said ‘it’s shit’. His blank, jelly-baby face occasionally warps into a sneer, but on the whole he gives nothing away, making him the sneakiest Casper lookalike in the country.
Sarah Willingham is even worse. Permanently overdressed – like she thought she’d been invited to lunch with her Majesty – she takes herself far too seriously. The main problem wirh Willingham is that she asks leading questions to the contestants which offer nothing to the show, other to explain at point blank range what you already know is happening. If a cut of pork has been burned she’ll ask ‘do you realise that that’s burned?’ and both viewer and contestant will nod while shrugging as she smiles at how clever she’s been. She’s not a patch on Sugar’s Margaret. But then… who is?
Still, it all works out alright in the end when we hit the boardroom (or whatever they call it on The Restaurant) as Blanc sits in the middle of them and adds an air of respectable, reasonable Gallic charm to the proceedings. He does the job of Alan Sugar but he does it his own way – which is to be fair and offer appropriate advice. His approach is as effective as Siralan’s because, more often than not, contestants are blinded by his unerring friendliness and complete obsession with stuff you masticate and as a result they admit their failings immediately, as though they’ve let Daddy down. It’s very impressive.
And the food?