Food Tour of Britain
Cactus TV for BBC Two, 24 August to 2 October 2009 (30 episodes in 1 series)
The BBC have been quite sneaky with this one, commissioning a 45-minute show which is really two programmes stuck together: a 15-minute cookery demo, followed by a 30-minute competition show. It's the latter we're interested in: the Bikers visit a different county in each show and compete against a local chef to make a meal with local ingredients. The meals are then served to nine local people, who vote for their favourite (without knowing whose meal is whose).
In its focus on local ingredients the show echoes Great British Menu, though the meals are perhaps a little more practical to reproduce at home - more high-end gastropub than Michelin star. Who wants the approval of a rubber tyre manufacturer anyway?
What may be surprising to some viewers is how often the Hairy Bikers win against professional chefs - even by margins of 8-1 and 9-0. Over the series, honours are pretty much even between the self-taught Bikers and the trained professionals, which is either cheering or alarming depending on your viewpoint. We're quite happy to see the autodidacts win, after all it's not as if we spent ten years studying Game Show Reviewing to PhD level ourselves (what do you mean, "it shows"?) and in any case the Bikers are far too nice to gloat about it, always bigging up the local chef whatever the result.