THE menu was full at yesterday’s launch of Hell’s Kitchen 2009.
Small round table interviews with new presenter Claudia Winkleman.
Plus seven of the eight celebrities going into the heat of Marco Pierre White’s ITV1 kitchen.
Except some of them disputed the term “celebrity”.
Including former Shameless star Jody Latham.
He sensibly doesn’t want to win the series.
Instead, he’s using it as a platform to promote his real work as an actor – while learning how to cook.
Sounds fair enough to me.
While predicting that fellow trainee chef Bruce Grobbelaar will punch his weight in the kitchen.
“I think he’ll deck Marco, to be honest. I do, honestly,” Jody told us.
“But I hope not, because then we’ll have no show.”
One young reporter, who shall remain nameless, said they had never heard of ex-Liverpool keeper Bruce.
And later almost caused him to leave his chair, responding to his first answer by asking – twice – “Is that a lie?”
Several court cases and many newspaper headlines flashed in front of my eyes.
It is important to note at this point that Bruce was cleared of match-fixing allegations.
He subsequently sued for libel, fighting claims that he was a match-fixing liar.
The Court of Appeal later stripped him of the £85,000 damages awarded.
But Bruce has always maintained he did nothing wrong.
So you can imagine the tone of voice in which he replied to a Hell’s Kitchen question asking him if his previous comment was a lie.
“No it isn’t,” he bristled.
Anthea Turner was bright and professional with all her answers.
But showed some of the defensiveness she’s had to build up after so many tabloid attacks.
It must be difficult, but sometimes a disarming reply full of humour does the job just as well.
Adrian Edmondson had looked slightly bemused when we watched him appear in an adjacent TV studio for the earlier HK “reveal” on This Morning.
He still had the air of a man wondering what he was doing here with the other “celebs” when we spoke to him.
And to his credit, made no attempt to disguise the fact.
Grant Bovey and Ms Dynamite also flashed before our eyes.
But, sadly, no Linda Evans – said to be flying in from America later this week.
With reports that she was, in fact, flying in the other direction described as incorrect.
Former air stewardess turned model Danielle Bux looked ill at ease on This Morning.
Hardly surprising, given that she doesn’t have any of the telly experience of her new chums.
Most of the world – well, OK, a small part of it – knows her simply as that woman who is going to marry Gary Lineker.
But being less used to this kind of thing than others, she also gave one of the best and most natural interviews at the launch.
Telling how Match of the Day host and former England star Gary nearly burned down their kitchen.
And how her seven-year-old daughter Ella had instructed her not to swear.
At the other end of the telly scale we have the hugely entertaining Claudia Winkleman.
If you’re, like me, a dedicated fan of Strictly Come Dancing – It Takes Two, you’ll know just what a genius presenter she is.
Not to mention all her previous work, Fame Academy included.
Claudia was joyously off the wall, producing quotes which should never see the light of day in a family newspaper.
Halfway through our interview, she said there was a reason Strictly didn’t let her do press launch chats.
No-one needed to add anything.
I asked her if she had ever been a guest diner in any of the three previous series of Hell’s Kitchen.
“I think I thought it was far away,” she smiled.
“But now I think it’s the most heavenly place to be.
Some ITV1 viewers may be unfamiliar with Claudia’s work.
It’ll be fascinating to see how her pairing with Hell’s Kitchen works out on screen.
There’s more from Claudia and co in today’s MEN TV feature here.
With a pic gallery here.
And a second feature to follow on Easter Monday – the day the series starts…9pm ITV1.
Hell’s Kitchen is, of course, just a bit of froth on the cappuccino of life.
But I fear I’m going to be hooked for the entire two week run.
If only to see if Bruce really does “deck” Marco.
I’m pretty sure that if he doesn’t, Claudia will.
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Hell’s Kitchen: Celebs on a plate
Hell’s Kitchen: Pic Gallery