Tony on TV - 29th February

Master Chef
Master Chef

WATCHING ‘MasterChef’ must have fired up “senior management” as I was dispatched to the shops to get some fresh okra.

This magical vegetable, which also goes under the name of lady’s fingers or gumbo, was a vital part of that evening’s meal, but was not to be.

After trekking round all the town’s supermarkets, I finally encountered a Lurch-type character shuffling around the fruit and veg section whose reply made me think that I was in a scene from ‘The Only Way Is Essex.’

“Basically,” he said, “this ‘ere okra-type thing’s kinda like something we don’t ‘ave ‘cos, kinda like, it’s green and foreign . . . and kinda like there’s no call for it.”

So, at the end of the day that kinda like was it . . . British retailing at its best. The okra might be foreign, but so also was the language used to tell me that it’s not on the menu.

I should have mentioned my plight to former ‘MasterChef’ contestant Afsaneh when I saw her serving in M&S Simply Foods in Leeds, but she seemed more intent on getting back to the real world away from the TV interrogations of John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

The foody duo seem oblivious to giving anything up for Lent as this week there are double helpings of the BBC1 show -- tonight there’s some spectacular fare served up for restaurant critics, while tomorrow the five final contestants head for Thailand where they have to run their own market stall and prepare a banquet for 50 discerning guests.

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There’s no stinting, either, on the comedy front with poolside pranks aplenty in the latest series of ‘Benidorm’ (ITV, Friday), while next Monday on BBC2 there’s the final chapter of ‘The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff,’ with more than a nod to Dickens as comedian Robert Webb gets caught up in a time warp as Jedrington Secret-Past.

Later in the evening there’s the latest of a refreshing six-part sketch show ‘Watson & Oliver,’ written by and starring Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver, while tomorrow on BBC3 there’s another instalment of the sitcom ‘Pramface’ with Anna Chancellor and Angus Deayton as the parents at war after their respective teenage offspring find they are parents-to-be after a drunken encounter at a party.


The Joy of Disco -- BBC4, Friday. If you’re not a fan of BBC4, make an exception and join in the channel’s 10th anniversary which celebrates the power of disco to get most people on the dance floor. This hour-long documentary, which has such legends as Sister Sledge, the Bee Gees and the Village People, is followed by archive footage of some real classics in ‘Disco at the BBC’ after which Graham Norton hosts ‘Queen of Disco’ celebrating the sounds and success of Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, Grace Jones and Chakha Khan. And, if you’re still standing after this three-hour marathon, the whole triple treat will be repeated from midnight onwards.