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TV: Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets \ BBC Two

March 1, 2010

In a recent interview in the Daily Mail, adorable Raymond Blanc has had an idea for a reality show being thrashed out for the past 8 or 9 years. Even though it hasn’t happened yet (and assuming it’s not one of his little bon mots), lets hope that particular idea dies a horrible death. His appearance in his Kitchen Secrets series on BBC Two highlights how reality shows on any subject have quickly become old hat.

Kitchen Secrets harks back to the fundamentals of good TV. An idea isn’t based on the interplay between the central character and his stooge, nor should it be reliant on clever editing or breathtaking photography.

There needs to be a core to a television programme. It must have some information. It must communicate something.

Kitchen Secrets ticks most of these boxes. Who knew an entire half-hour could be filled with as many recipes using apples as it was in episode three. Who also had any idea that beautifully presented food could be done so effortlessly for the camera in such a way as the viewer might feel inclined to actually get off their backsides and have a go themselves. And who knew that using fan oven wasn’t the best way of baking an apple. I didn’t.

Blanc’s thick French accent did at first make the voice over (Eva Pope) vital in communicating the recipe details I struggled to understand from the chef. Whilst vital, the cutting between Blanc and voice over seemed a little clunky. But after a while I became accustomed to the switches between the two, eased no doubt by the well-chosen, good-humoured soundtrack.

The ultimately refreshing aspect of this programme is without doubt how Blanc’s performance for the cameras. He comes across as the kind of man you’d want as your boss if you were foolish enough to want to work in a kitchen in the first place. In the same interview for the Daily Mail he said,

“It’s nonsense that you have to be some sort of fierce, controlling chef – it’s yesterday’s cliché – those people will end up in prison because that’s where they belong. The world is changing – we need to create a modern business in which young people will be empowered and treated with respect.”

Fingers crossed the world can change quickly. I’ve got a long list of TV chefs I’d like to see locked up.

The icing on the cake ? (The pun was inevitable. Please forgive me for it.) Although I’ve started watching this series on TV at episode 3, I can still watch the episodes I missed via the BBC iPlayer (and they’re available for a month after broadcast ). It seems that paltry seven-day window is gradually being extended for more and more programmes. Thank God for that.

Not only that, the recipes spotlighted on the programme are linked to from the same page as the video catch up. Now there’s joined up thinking. Nice work.

Update: Thanks to @Neets68 for bring me up to speed on this piece of news about Blanc

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