I knew Gordon Ramsay had branched into US TV stardom with Hell’s Kitchen but I didn’t expect him to turn up on the second hour of US TV cookery primetime as main presenter of the American version of Masterchef –– all on Fox TV.
It was the semi-final last night and the contestants were sweating over their lemon meringue pies — I wonder whether it’s actually possible to send up this TV genre.
SomewhatÂ serendipitously Masterchef Â had imported its floppy-haired, bearded, Johnny Depp-spectacled French judge — someone who I’d watched this time last year and blogged aboutÂ when the programme was on when we were staying in Brittany. In its hyped-up introduction, the US show claimed that MasterchefÂ is a TV phenomenon all over the world — India and Israel were mentioned.
What did seem telling was the contestants seemed much more openly competitive than those in the UK original, who almost seemÂ embarrassedÂ to get through. In the US version, they slag each other off likeÂ Apprentice contestants (who only seem to do that when goaded for pre-publicity — in the tasks the BritishÂ ApprenticeÂ contestants are remarkably nice to each other).
Or perhaps Americans are just more honest — a big difference perhaps between British and US writing? I always think American writing is more direct — much more emphasis on active and imaginative verbs (as Stephen King would recommend) whereas British writing is typically more discursive. This doesn’t mean good British-style writing is bad — just different — compare the styles of Time and The Economist.
Ironically, given last week’s events, the British versions of these programmes seem to show a country more at ease with itself than the US — which has been brought almost to bankruptcy by the brinksmanship of its politicians, whereas in Britain they entered a coalition.
And on the other channel in the room next door were Piers Morgan and Sharon Osborne on America’s Got Talent. On second thoughts perhaps not all British exports are that tasty.