Michael Winner’s Dining Stars Review: “Calm Down Dear…”
MICHAEL WINNER’S DINING STARS: Friday 26th February, ITV1, 9pm ALERT ME
I’d like to think my love for cooking shows began at the exact moment they stopped revolving around the food.
That is, until they started to revolve around Michael Winner.
One of Britain’s harshest food critics is on the hunt to find home cooked meals rivaling the best restaurant grub. Only the most toothsome amateur chefs will claim one of Winner’s prestigious dining star awards.
“One star means ‘very good’, two stars is ‘absolutely incredible’ and three means ‘historic beyond belief’”, says Winner. He alters the definitions a bit but you get the idea.
“It was tasteless, horrid muck,” he says into a dictaphone in the opening credits, presumably he was describing those car insurance adverts. The sooner he gets that embarrassment out the way the better, along with the opening titles (which resemble a camp dating show).
You’d be forgiven for thinking Michael Winner wasn’t a food critic but – judging by the slick background music and private jets in the opening scenes – some sort of James Bond character. This illusion fades fast when we see beer poured on his silver mane, as part of his morning beauty regime.
“Beer is the best conditioner in the world! – you will be startled at the attention you receive from the opposite sex and possibly your own sex,” he proclaims. I’m sure the pungent smell goes down a treat at his local bingo hall.
He arrives in Longridge, Lancashire to meet Justine Forest and her traditional hearty food. At the meal itself he is not allowed to comment, instead gulping mouthfuls to the Jaws theme tune (yes).
On hearing she’d lost ten stone in the past year, however, Winner can’t help but quip, “Big must have been a mild word to describe you!” Needless to say her husband looks ready to stab him with a fork.
He then heads to Cheshire to meet Dean Lewis, master of West-Indian cooking. But not before he buys a £820 jacket from a shop and samples the local chocolate. Say what you like about Winner – he makes unashamedly good television.
He revels in carrying the conversation at Dean’s, despite the distinct lack of response from the table who find it hard to relate to him. “This is the first time in the history of the world I have come to a dinner party, having bought a suit just for the dinner party!” Oh dear.
Judgement Day takes place in a cinema in London where the chefs get to see Winner on the big screen delivering his culinary verdicts. His critique of Dean’s over-spiced prawns sends the whole thing up Jeremy Kyle creak, “I don’t care what you say!” Dean shouts. Evidently, neither does Winner.
A slither of food, a helping of volatile contestants and one giant dollop of eccentric presenter. Your programme is served.