I have tried very hard to like Let’s do Lunch with Gino and Mel in the past. Charlotte and I argued about it a lot last summer. She found it fun and different while I missed Loose Women, whose slot it fills while the girls are away on their holidays. But just as Gino started to win me round with his amazing tablecloth trick, the show was over.
Now it’s back on our screens until September and I’m afraid after just one episode it’s reminded me of all the reasons I didn’t like it in the first place. Except I think it’s got a bit worse.
It has all the same characters, the same format, the same good food, the same type of celebrities and the same challenges, only this year it’s all a bit smugger. Having (inexplicably in my view) gone down so well last summer seems to have gone to their heads.
Mel has always irritated me a bit – too smiley, too squawky and too crude. On the other hand I loved Gino long before this programme, from his time on This Morning and Daily Cooks Challenge. He was a really talented chef but also had a gorgeous face, cheeky personality and made lots of endearing little faux pas trying to speak English as a second language.
And don’t get me wrong. He still is talented, gorgeous and cheeky but he’s also become a bit full of himself, not helped at all by the audience cheering and whooping at his every word. Now the innuendo which was so funny because it was honestly accidental is starting to sound planned, for a laugh, which takes away half the charm.
He’s branded himself ‘Mr Fantastico’, laps up the audience’s adoring cries and plays up for the cameras. After every challenge he’s convinced he’s brilliant at the new skill, (most recently playing the vegetable trumpet – which he very definitely was not). He’s still a likeable character but I preferred him before.
To give him credit where it’s very definitely due his food looks as good as ever. On yesterday’s series 2 opener, he made a mouth-watering looking beef wellington which guest Jason Manford hoovered up with gusto.
But this makes me think they should focus more on the food and less on the silliness, the flirting with the audience and the messing about. Daily Cooks Challenge showed us you could combine food with celebrity chat and a few laughs but it wasn’t smug and contrived. It did, however contain Antony Worrall Thompson but I guess there’s a downside to everything.