The Big Family Cooking Showdown



Zoe Ball and Nadiya Hussain (2017)

Angellica Bell and Tommy Banks (2018)


Judges: Giorgio Locatelli and Rosemary Shrager (2017)


Voltage TV for BBC Two, 15 August 2017 to 2 November 2018 (26 episodes in 2 series, 2018 as Family Cooking Showdown)


All the trappings of The Great British Bake Off, but with less of the charisma.

Zoe Ball (experienced television host) and Nadiya Hussain (Bake Off winner) host a show seeking the best family of cooks. The judges are Rosemary Shrager (wise and experienced) and Giorgio Locatelli (expressive and looks a bit impetuous).

The Big Family Cooking Showdown Giorgio, Nadiya, Zoe, and Rosemary introduce a challenge.

Each heat was divided into three challenges. The Ten Pound Challenge sought main courses for four people, on a budget of £10. Favourite Dishes was filmed in the contestants' home, with the judges and one host dropping by for a two-course meal. Impress the Neighbours was a starter and main course to stop the show.

The better of the two teams in each heat made the semi-final round, and one wildcard team from the heats made up the numbers.

For the semi-final, improvisation was the key. The teams had no advance warning of What's In the Fridge?, making a main course out of a very limited set of ingredients. Perfect Puddings saw how well they could follow a recipe, and The Nation's Favourite (With a Twist) asked for a different take on a well-known dish.

The Big Family Cooking Showdown Twisted fish and chips.

The semi-finals tested team-work, how well they divided their efforts and prioritised what needs doing. These skills were further tested in The Final, make sets of nibbles, mains, and desserts for a large gathering - with each batch due at a different time.

The competition format was sufficiently generic (a dash of Masterchef here, a little My Kitchen Rules there). The presentation was entirely predictable; Family Cooking Showdown stuck to the accepted rules of editing a cookery competition to make it look more fun than it really is. The show displayed the food in extreme closeup at the end, as every show does. The kitchen was decorated to the current fashions, and the music was pizzicato strings.

The Big Family Cooking Showdown This amuse-yeux made the edit.

A "heat" format - where we'll only see the winners on three episodes - is always harder work than a "musical chairs" format, where the winner's on every episode. Family Cooking Showdown tried to make it easier to remember the contenders - two teams in the heats, and ten minutes without sight of the opposition, helped to bring out the contestants' personalities. But we didn't get a journey, we didn't see anyone move from "very good" to "excellent" as Nadiya had done in her Bake Off series.

The Big Family Cooking Showdown was hurt by over-ambitious scheduling. The BBC chose to air the series in the same weeks as The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4. A move from Tuesday to Thursday - to dodge a clash with Bake Off - didn't help viewers. The general thought was "why have this copy when we can have the original?", and an OK programme was mentally filed as a failure. Viewing figures told a different story, however, and the format was strong enough to come back in 2018, with a new name (Family Cooking Showdown), and stripped across the week at 7pm.

There was a different competition structure, too. We meet four families on Monday, three survive to Tuesday, and the two best come back on the Friday final. Repeat this for new families on Wednesday and Thursday, before Friday produces a pair of families for the last week. We'll see the winners on about half the episodes of the series, addressing one of the weaknesses from the first series. Hosts Angellica Bell and Tommy Banks were also the resident judges for the show.


2017: Bobby, Lorna, and Monika Gangotra
2018: Mitesh, Prachi, and Anup Mistry

The Big Family Cooking Showdown The Gangotras.

Theme music

Wayne Roberts composed a full score for the programme.


The first two episodes were shown on Tuesday night at 8pm. Then Channel 4 shoved their freshly-poached Bake Off into the same slot. The remainder of Family Cooking Showdown went out on Thursday at 8pm. (That's except for the third semi-final, bumped by Autumnwatch to 9pm.)

Pretty much sums it up.

Together TV reran the first series several times in 2022 under the truncated title "Big Cooking Showdown".

Web links

BBC programme page

Wikipedia entry

See also

Weaver's Week review


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