Buying formats from across the Atlantic is as old as the hills on both sides of the pond. We sent them Wife Swap, Supernanny, and Gordon’s Kitchen Nightmare’s. In return, we got Law & Order and suchlike. Not all transfers have been successful.  Americans have never really got behind The X Factor. Likewise, over here in Britain The Voice has never really matched up to expectations, although apparently Kylie Minogue is doing a good job of nearly getting it to where it needs to be.

Which makes Channel 4 buying the rights to The Taste come across as very odd indeed, especially as when all said and done it is essentially The Voice with less swivelling of chairs and added spoons. In many respects it suffers the same faults as its musical cousin. Firstly, unlike say The Great British Bake-Off, we are never encouraged to identify with the contestants. We hear very little about what is making them cook a certain dish, what memories are behind it, the thought process. Nor do they bond with each other – the competitiveness between them is very overt. In short, there is no sense of a group of very nice people who cook for love coming together. Rather, it feels as if some of the competitors would rather see a knife in their rivals backs rather than slicing their veg.

Which moves on to the next problem, which is that the judges, as with the original Voice line-up, lack warmth. Ludo and Anthony are both excellent chefs, but mentors need to emotionally engage with their charges, rather than shouting Gallic phrases or heckling whilst sipping wine in a corner. Even Nigella, who was designed to bring a bit of heart, seems distant, although to her credit she is the only judge to talk regularly about teaching her protégées, and even took one emotionally distressed soul to one side for a stiff but fair talking to.

This lack of warmth even extends to presenting style, in that there isn’t one. There is merely a body-less narrator. Perhaps GBBO has spoilt me, but I feel that somewhere there has to be somebody composed purely of sunshine and gentle humour floating about. Everything, including the set, is just too bloody clinical.

There are some good bits to the show though. First, it is nice to step away from this ‘you eat with your eyes’ nonsense, as is the fact that any cheffy-nonsense or use of ridiculous equipment is frowned upon. It is all about good home cooking. And the banter between the judges is at least humorous enough not to leave the programme completely devoid of personality. But therein lies the rub. Reality shows that rely on the judges to get you watching are doomed to fail. The public needs to be star of the show, and for that to happen at some point you need to be asked to care about who succeeds. It needs to happen fast. Right now, I couldn’t give a bloody toss.

Advertisements