Celebrity MasterChef is back on our screens again this summer and, while the format is perenially popular, this year’s line-up of “well-known faces” is looking tired.
One glance down the list – Janet Street Porter, Shane Lynch, Les Dennis, Joe Calzaghe – and instead of being reminded of their achievements in their respective fields, I find myself conjuring up images of indecent ice dancing costumes and breakdowns among chickens on Celebrity Big Brother.
I can’t be bothered to debate the demise of reality TV – in the eyes of some the genre has already plumbed the depths with the likes of Celebrity Wrestling, Cirque de Celebrité, Celebrity Love Island (I could go on…) – but the talent conjured up nowadays is creaky and worn out.
Of the 16 contestants competing to impress Gregg Wallace and John Torode in this eighth series, just three of them are making their reality TV debut. But what Phillips Idowu, Matthew Hoggard and Speech Debelle lack in humiliating experiences, they gain in the knowledge that the audience will likely remember them for their sporting achievements or Mercury Prize-winning fame.
As for the rest of the competition, we’ve seen it all before. I can talk at length on the dancing proficiency of Ade Edmondson, Katy Brand, Shappi Khorsandi, Joe Calzaghe, Heidi Range and Jo Wood based on their appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice and Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. I can tell you all about Shane Lynch’s athletic prowess from his time on The Games and Cirque de Celebrité. I can even fill you in on Brian Capron’s skills in the kitchen after his 2010 appearance on the soap star special of Come Dine With Me.
Because while the original line-ups of I’m A Celebrity and Celebrity Big Brother may have come across as equally desperate and Z-list, at least both shows had an infusion of something new and exciting. But with the endless cycle of celebs-turned-reality-stars patronising television audiences, the reality genre is sinking into a repetitive blur of “same-old, same-old”. Surely the BBC can find us some fresh faces? Or maybe we should just be thankful Kerry Katona isn’t dusting off her chef’s hat…