(For more hilarious TV reviews like this by myself and others, head over to Shouting at Cows. It really is the best thing on the web that doesn’t contain full frontal nudity).
Reality TV dominates the television. In this past week, we have seen the climax of X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and The Apprentice. People lap this stuff up. These programs are fine, but they cater for an already popular crowd. X-Factor? Singers are idolized! Strictly? Dancers are adored! The Apprentice? Suit + Talking incomprehensible garbage = cash! What about shows for the unsung heroes of society? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome; ‘BBC3′s Britain’s Best Young Butcher 2010′.
The show takes place in a glammed up aircraft carrier. It’s essentially a hanger with a few hobs in, but to try and spruce it up a bit, the set-designers have put chandeliers up and made a little lounge-bar area for host George Lamb to do summaries from. The hype levels are epic. Think X-Factor set in an abattoir. Four of the finest carvers in the UK battling it out tooth and nail. There are the usual characters involved; the emotional back-story (one guy is in training to run a marathon for charity) the lad who dreamt as a child to be a butcher (half expecting his mother to appear and say ‘well we knew from a young age he wanted to be a butcher. We’d come down in the middle of the night and find him slicing the ham wafer thin, stuffing the chicken and moaning about EU regulations’).
The judges are ‘industry pros’. The first looks like a Toni and Guy rep that has never even stepped foot in a butchers, whilst the other is described as a ‘sausage champion’. Have you ever heard of a nickname with such homosexual connotations as that? He’s also described as a ‘pie pro’, so basically the producers think he’s a fat man of a certain persuasion.
It works as a simple round system. In round one they are given half a pig – sorry – a side of pork (proper lingo you see), and told to carve as much out of it as possible in an hour. The judges spot an ideological flaw with the show straight away; ‘The thing is, it’s a timed task, so it’s probably not the best way to really judge these guys’. Well this is an utter waste of time then!
George Lamb is the host and has a look on his face of forced sincerity crossed with utter boredom. See, when you sign a contract with BBC3, you think you’ll land the prime, high-end gig of hosting ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’, but instead you get lumped with pratting around an old airfield with a load of pre-pubescent butchers. He tries to get involved with the ‘meat banter’, but ends up looking like some ponse that has wandered onto the set. Chatting with the judges, he states he’s impressed with the contestants ‘finger dexterity’. Finger dexterity, George? Seriously? It may have sounded slightly more convincing if the prat wasn’t dressed like an ultra-flamboyant snooker referee. But turn-ups, woollen waistcoats and oversized bow-ties are the fashion in ‘that there London’, and if he wants to host series 4 of Celebrity Scissorhands, he needs to be on the top of his game.
The second task is to make the perfect pie. Lamb stars the build-up with the utterly appalling ‘it’s pie do or die, now!’ pun, and the judges taste the concoctions. It rather resembles that part of master-chef where the budding cook does a soft-focussed, slow motion close up of their confit de canard, but instead; it’s an apple and cider pork pie. The judges mull over the contestants;
‘We’re here to find young butcher of the year……not young pie-maker of the year.’
……Is there a difference? With tension at breaking point, they do a surprise quiz on each contestant in homage of Dennis Hopper ‘pop quiz hotshot!’ style. They take each contestant into a secluded room that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a Saw film, and bark at them questions about, like, beef and stuff. Did you know a baby female pig is called a Gilt? I didn’t. Both judges get the hump because none of the contestants knows some fact about grouses, and seem on the verge of grabbing the young butchers by the collar and shouting ‘YOU’RE NOTHING! YOU’RE LIGHTWEIGHT! YOU’RE SCUM! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!’
Two are kicked off and the remaining two compete in the final for the prestigious award of ‘BBC3′s Best Young Butcher in Britain’. They are given 2 hours to assemble 12 different foods from a larder of meat. Honestly, if Morrissey saw this he’d been having fatal seizures. Bryce, finalist A, becomes possessed by the spirit of Francis Bacon seemingly, as he turns all the produce into slightly perverse meat sculptures. He makes a Christmas Tree out of the turkey, worded signs out of sausages, and pumps a pork loin full of offal like some sort of massive, meaty condom. George and the judges (sounds like a late 70s ska band that) do a sort of play-by-play from the lounge bar. The tension is now reaching fever pitch. Lloyd, finalist B, is less ambitious, and feels that the way to win the final is to mummify a squirrel with strips of Bacon. Turns out, he’s right, as he’s wins (insert something witty here about the dilution of British creativity).
The climax of the whole thing lacks any sort of X-Factor style razzamatazz. No fireworks or screaming fans, just the realization dawning on them that they’ve spent the last 48 hours in a hanger dicing meat for the right to say ‘yes, I’m 2010′s Best Young Butcher in Britain (In the eyes of BBC3)’. Not very snappy is it?