Archive for the ‘Popular culture’ Category

Adventures with Gino & Mel

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Let's Do Lunch logoIt was with great joy that I was asked back this year as a regular to ITV’s summer food & entertainment show ‘Let’s Do Lunch with Gino & Mel’.  I appeared first on the show last summer as a one-off challenger for Gino, where I gave him the task of having afternoon tea correctly.  The lovely executive producer Sharon Powers (great name, great lady) then asked if I could come back and so we did Royal dining and then a turn for 2012’s Christmas run.

I returned in episode three of the third series to give Gino & Mel a lesson in wedding etiquette in the part of the programme where the male host is ‘challenged’.  The piece we did on weddings is probably my favourite having now completed the series.  We ended up doing one more than was originally planned, the penultimate one I did was on dating etiquette and that happened quite last minute as the show’s item about pickled eggs fell through and so I was called 24 hours before to ask if we could piece something together for the next day’s show.

Everyone at Let’s Do Lunch is so lovely – I really couldn’t have asked to work with more charming, accommodating and tolerating people.

Many have asked me what happens behind the scenes, so I felt a short blog may help.

9.30 – I arrive at London Studios and am shown to my perfectly decent dressing room, although it is lacking a window.  Watch 10 mins of Jeremy Kyle and get terribly depressed at what I see on that show

Abi and I find a solution to my hair loss

Abi and I find a solution to my hair loss

9.40 – The darling makeup artist Abi arrives and trowels on the makeup, generally insults me, I insult her, we laugh, I scream as she puts in eyedrops to make any redness vanish

9.50 – The assistant producer comes into the dressing room and goes through the item with me

10.10 – Makeup done, I then hang about or go and meet my friend who works in the building but on another show



11.00 – Part 3 rehearsal.   I go into studio 3 to rehearse the item.  Mel & Gino have always asked never to hear my replies as they wish to ‘learn whilst the viewer does’ so Melanie asks me the questions, I reply with ‘blah, blah, blah’ (literally) and the director rehearses the shots

11.20 – I go upstairs to dressing room to find my costume has been brought back from wardrobe after being beautifully pressed.  Most of it is my own stuff but there are occasional borrows from wardrobe.  I change into costume

11.30 – I sit in studio café downstairs (as it has windows and natural light) and go over the facts I am to say

12.30 – Show goes live and I wait outside studio chatting to the lovely studio’s nurse, the lovely runners, assistant floor manager, and anyone else who passes

Being 'touched up' (a TV term)

Being ‘touched up’ (a TV term)

12.55 – I am taken into the studio and take my position.  Karl the fab audience warm-up act usually waves to me and says generally nice things about me to the audience

13.00 – Part 3 is live and chaos ensues as I try to teach Gino about weddings, restaurant dining, Chinese dining, dating decorum, or Royal Christenings

13.10 – Part 3 is over and I go back to dressing room and change

13.20 – I get in the car and am away

Although the live shows are finished, we have just pre-recorded two slots for the two-week Christmas spin-off series (‘Let’s Do Christmas’) which airs at the end of the year.  As for what those entail, you will have to wait and see, but below is a clue for one of the instalments.

A Royal Christmas

A Royal Christmas

Finally, everyone keeps asking me on Twitter whether I like Gino/Gino likes me.  Firstly, Melanie is really, really lovely and is incredibly good at what she does – especially having to cope with the verbiage between her male host and me.  As for that million dollar question about Gino and me… 😉

Partners in crime

Partners in crime

How I’ve ended up being Patrick Dempsey’s co-star

Monday, February 11th, 2013

I’m in a film.  Yes, me.  A film!  With co-stars Patrick Dempsey (‘Grey’s Anatomy’) and Chris Noth (Mr Big in ‘Sex and The City’).

Confused?  Well, so was I.

Last year – in April – I was asked to fly out to Belgium in order to film for a “new business reality show, where a team of experts help improve the chances of a group of unemployed people from around the world”.  The director met me in my very nice hotel the day before to talk me through what I was required to do exactly.  The brief was to train each candidate (I would be seeing three) in dining etiquette.  He specifically had chosen lobster, snails and oysters for me to teach.  Three of my least favourite foods in the world, but fine, I shall teach how to eat them.  They were paying me, at the end of the day.

The next day, a delightful runner collects me and drives me to the location (another hotel in the city).  I was filming almost within ten minutes of arriving at the location.  Anyone who’s filmed anything before will tell you that never happens.  Filming is usually just a lot of faffing about and waiting.  I knew something was up.

I was asked to open the door to the lobby and bring in the first candidate.  Sitting outside were two ladies.  One perfectly normal lady, and one Japanese-looking one.  I had been told to work with the Japanese lady first.  And in she came.  Falling over herself, kissing me, and behaving in a very odd way.


Little old me thought that she was just a hopeless candidate that the TV programme had found – great for TV.  So I went along with it, trying to be as charming as possible and cope with the stupid questions, prying questions about my personal life, and lobsters being waved in my face.  Only about ten minutes in did I realise that she really couldn’t be for real.  I was giving as good as I got (I mean, I just about survived Russell Howard), but I have to admit I was probably coming across like a rabbit in the headlights.

The sequence ended with me having this Japanese girl – Ushi – thrust a choux bun in my face as she showed me how she would eat it.  It dropped all down my suit.  I nearly snapped at this point.  It had gone far enough.

ushi_pieAfter filming with Ushi was done, I was then told they didn’t need any more from me.  What about the other candidates? I asked.  Nothing more needed, the answer came.  I asked the director and sound engineer whether she was for real; I was told she was.  Hmmm.

Thankfully, my runner – who was taking me back to the hotel to change and then fly home, let me in on the plot.  Although she thought it was for a TV show.  I didn’t realise it was a film until LAST NIGHT when I found a trailer on YouTube.  It appears Ushi (who I discovered is The Netherlands’s answer to Borat and Keith Lemon) has duped many others in the making of this film, including Messers Dempsey and Noth.  Ho hum.

I was livid at the time – more so about my suit than anything else.  But now that several months have passed, I am finding the whole thing funnier.  Just.

The film is released on Thursday in Europe.

US artist uses mobile phone during live TV show

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Well, this was aghast to read that his US namesake (and slightly less talented rapper) was using his mobile phone during last weekend’s first live round of The Voice UK.

The singer was caught on camera using his gadget during one of the performances. The artist has since said that he wasn’t ‘being rude’ he was just conforming to the ‘new way’ that fans interact with TV shows. A clever reply, but not an intelligent one! Yes, we do now use our mobiles for much more than just calling or texting people, but when you are begin paid shed loads to sit and listen to people sing the least you can do is give them your full attention!

No one can ever fully concentrate on two things at once – women are better at it than men, but no one is perfect.

I just hope that bucks up his ideas for next week’s show.

Daily Mail article can be read here.