News that James Martin is leaving Saturday Kitchen is about as welcome as pulling a burnt piece of toast from the grill.
Martin’s hosted the show for ten years, effortlessly pulling in three million viewers a pop. He says it’s time to get stuck into some new projects and enjoy a Saturday morning lie-in. But it feels like we’re losing a mate.
After all, the likeable chef is more than aware a huge chunk of his audience is watching with half a kebab stuck to their face and absolutely no intention of whipping up his latest dish. Seeing him throw a heart attack-inducing amount of butter into a pan while we struggle to summon up the strength to pour a bowl of cereal is what kicks off many a 20-something’s weekend.
Sure, James bumbles a few lines here and there. He occasionally forgets he’s meant to be telling us what he’s doing with that fillet knife as he chats animatedly to that week’s guest. But what do we care? Most of us just want a tip here and there, not a lesson in whipping up a 12-course taster meal for royalty. In fact, at that time in the morning I bargain many are simply trying to decide whether their two-day-old milk is OK for a cuppa and whether that cold kebab is still edible, which means anything cooked by an actual chef looks amazing.
The morning wine-swigging could be lost on some of us at times – not necessarily what you need to see after a late Friday night – but the rest of the show feels like a big warm hug on a Saturday. It’s like he’s saying ‘well done, you made it through the week’ as he piles up a big plate of pie and mash.
The Top Gear-inspired ‘Omelette challenge’ is eggs-tremely entertaining and eggs-cellently jam-packed with crap puns like that. Martin pretends to hate them but you can tell even he’s impressed they still manage to think of them this many episodes down the line. Heck, we’re struggling to do much more than grunt.
As for those viewers I’m somewhat sidelining – the ones who do actually watch to get cookery tips – there’s plenty they’ll lose from Martin’s exit, too. He knows his grub. He knows what tastes good (and that butter always makes it taste better) and where to get the ingredients for a decent price. You can call him and ask for ideas and he’s working with produce we’ve all heard of. None of this roaming around Tesco aimlessly looking for Baobab.
Here’s hoping the chefs who step into his shoes know it’s all about easing us into the weekend – and maybe how to whip up a decent hangover cure, too…