Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Red-dy Steady Cook 

YouTube is great. Not only does it provide an outlet for Star Wars geeks to unleash yet another unfunny parody of the films on to an audience of similarly geekish types who seem to have an insatiable appetite for such things, it also, thanks to it's reluctance to accept the concept of copyright law, allows you to watch all the crap TV programmes you may have missed due schedule clashes, a poor quality TV guide or the slightly more likely 'having better things to do'.

We often have better things to do, so you can imagine our annoyance when we discovered that we'd missed one of the most momentous TV events of the decade: Nicola Roberts' debut solo appearance. Admittedly while Cheryl got to appear on the prime time slot that was Comic Relief does The Apprentice, Nicola only got to do Ready Steady Cook, but it's a start. Clearly this marks the beginning of her inevitable strides towards world domination and, thanks to the wonders of YouTube (Click here), not only have we been able to enjoy this wondrous event not from the comfort of our sofa but from our uncomfortable chair in front of the computer, but you too can enjoy the tense battle as the Nicola takes on the Sugababes' Heidi Range in the cookery based battle which serves mainly to let the unemployed and housebound know that it's nearly time for tea.

It was something of a surprise to see Nic appear on such a show, as previous to this she hadn't exactly demonstrated much of a love for the culinary art. Indeed, given the answers she's given to food related questions in the past, we wouldn't have been entirely surprised if, on emptying her bag, the contents had consisted of two packs of Super Noodles, a bag of chips and a microwavable toastie. Fortunately for her, however, the producers took her bag she'd provided herself off of her and, because it was Comic Relief, provided her with one containing only red items of food; red potatoes, red steak, red cabbage, red Leicester cheese, etc, etc. You get the somewhat laboured idea. Not that the chef, who went by the name of 'Gino', apparently, cared: "I'm more excited about Nicola than the bag. I don't really care about the bag right now". Tsk, imagine perving so blatantly over a popstar in a public forum. How pathetic. The host, irritant and general annoyance Ainsley Harriot, took advantage of the moment to ask Nicola about her attitude towards food: "I like normal English food", insisted Nic, like a good steak dinner, for example. "As long as it's well done, I can't be doing with that bloody meat", she swore.

"How much was your bag?", asked Ainsley. "£7.53", answered Nicola. "Under budget", she added proudly, and seemed very put out when Ainsley pointed out that, as they were only allowed £7.50 to spend she was actually threepence over the limit. We hope that the Girls Aloud management don't take advantage of Nicola's blind spot with figures. That, of course, is assuming that they do actually pay her. We could quite easily believe that they pay her in Smarties.

After a chat with Heidi, Gino began to describe what he planned on doing with the ingredients provided by Nic. "That sounds lovely", she said, the expression on her face indicating otherwise". But despite her day job suggesting otherwise, Nicola wasn't there to just stand around looking pretty in the background, she was there to work and, after Gino helped her tie her apron, taking advantage of the opportunity to molest her, Nic was soon put to work with the highly important task of quartering the potatoes and grating the cheese. She was probably just happy to be involved for a change, although the concept of cooking and, indeed, work, seemed to take her aback. "Do you want all of the cheese?", she asked innocently. "All of it", confirmed the chef. "All of it!?", was her shocked response, delivered with about as much incredulity as would normally be given to news of a Jade Goody comeback.

These weren't the only tasks that Nicola was entrusted with, though. Oh, no! Giving her the sort of responsibility and respect that she's used to getting in the studio, Nic also got to separate the egg yolks, a task she took to with her usual sunny disposition and happy-go-lucky attitude: "It's awful! I feel like I'm on the jungle programme", by which we assume she means I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here and not the Christopher Biggins fronted game show On Safari - Safari, so goody! Although we're not sure which would offer a more unpleasant experience.

Of course, there's a serious side to all this, so Ainsley was quick to ask Nicola about what she'd learnt from working with Comic Relief, and she'd discovered that not all the money raised goes to Africa, effortlessly reeling off a couple of percentages that she'd definitely not been primed with before she went onto the set. Nic had also been to visit a hostel in Liverpool which deals with abused kids. Naturally this was quite an upsetting experience, but Nicola was bravely able to sum up the hurt, pain and anguish felt by the people there: "It's just not very nice". She also revealed herself to be something of a socialist by saying, "I just think that everyone should be on the same even keel". Well, we always knew she was a red.

Feeling, perhaps, that this line of questioning wasn't leading to the emotional depth he was looking for, Ainsley cruelly decided to move the interview onto an even more upsetting line of enquiry, asking Nicola how, with so many girls in the band, they decide who gets to sing what line. "It's the producers", answered Nicola, silently adding "those bastards" under her breath. "You get no say in the matter then", laughed Ainsley, insensitively, "That must really annoy you!". At this point Nicola began making and unmaking fists under the worktop and Ainsley wisely decided to go and have a chat with Heidi before he ended up with a frying pan to the face.

And so, the moment of truth, the meals are revealed and Gino is quick to play up Nicola's role in the cooking. "You added the salt and pepper, didn't you?", he said patronisingly, confusing Nic with a five year old child with special needs, but Nic didn't need Gino to talk up her game, she was keen to highlight the work she'd done and all the things she'd learnt in the last twenty minutes. "I added some green herbs", she said proudly, referring to the basil she added to the bruschetta. Or toast, as she would have put it. Unfortunately all her efforts were for naught as, with only one vote in it, Nicola lost to Heidi - boo, hiss, etc - and looked genuinely let down by the result. Still, she did better out of it than the Range did, as while Heidi was guilt tripped into giving her £100 pound prize money to Comic Relied, Nicola was free to keep her runners up prize of a food hamper all to herself. Or at least take it to her local branch of Lidl and exchange it for a multipack of Wotsits, with some turkey twizzlers thrown in for good measure.

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