Passion for Chocolate

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Come Dine With Me
Five Days with ITV/Channel 4

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Getting to the show

FRIDAY...
Fridays are interesting days for us. For one thing, we 'go shopping' for the dipping items we need for that night. We always like to buy fresh ingredients.

One Friday Christine and I strayed into one of our local shopping malls in Coventry after we had done our main shopping. Walking through the main thoroughfare ever eagle-eyed Christine spotted on a notice board a small flyer. Oblivious to the world and thinking about the task in hand, I never noticed she had stopped and was intensely reading the flyer - until she called me over.

"ITV / Channel 4 "Come Dine With Me" are advertising for contestants" she called out.

"Oh." I mumbled in a non-committal way, thinking about tonight's function..

"You'd be great on it!" she exclaimed.

"hmmm." Was my response. And we walked on.

Two days later on Sunday, Christine was sending a few e-mails and writing a few letters when she remembered the flyer. Unbeknown to me, she wrote into Channel 4 requesting an application form.

MONDAY...
On Monday I received as call from a person claiming to be a researcher from the programme. As you can imagine, I was a bit taken-back and not sure what was happening. I soon put two and two together!

"Can you fill the form in as soon as possible, send it back to us as we are filming in two weeks" the reseracher stated in a friendly, helpful tone.

Not high on my prioity list, I replied, "yes, no problem I'll see to it shortly".

TUESDAY...
Tuesday morning I received another call. "We still haven't received your application form!" I thought, what the heck had Christine written for them to phone me again?

I soon got down to filling in the form. Now there are application forms and there are application forms! This was one of the most difficult ones I have ever tackled. It asked all manner of subjective questions plus, they wanted a dinner menu - with ingredients listed in full. Although I LOVE cooking, I am not quite used to wrting down recipes down to the last half gram and complete methodologies.

Creating the menu took a lot of time. Although it may sound simple, believe me it is not! I had every recipe book I own strewn all over the, kitchen, lounge, bedroom and even in the smallest room. I have about 300 in all. Christine was not happy! I can thoroughly recommend this activity to anyone (not for getting your wife annoyed, but the exercise of looking at recipes in a new light. I discovered recipes I had forgotten I had!)

Form filled in. Sent. Peace. That will be the end of that.

No such luck.

THURSDAY...
Thursday the friendly researcher rang again. "Done it!" I exclaimed as Ihit the 'send' button again before she had time to ask her familiar question.

FRIDAY...
On Friday the Director of the programme excitedly phoned and said, "could we pop round in say two hours and do a quick film of you and your house? We're in Coventry at present"

Christine has never seen me vaccuum a house and tidy-up as fast as did that moment! The house looked immaculate. I on the other hand was not!

Berry (the director) came and filmed. "We've had over 1,800 application forms for just five spots" he said. "We like you, but it is up to The Comptroller of Channel 4 if you get on the prgramme." With over 1,800 applicants I thought I didn't stand an chance.

MONDAY...One week on
Monday afternoon I receive a call - "You're on!" Berry cooly purred over the phone in delight and in a TV persona drool.

"We start filming next Monday." he contunued, "What's your theme to the dinner party, what entertainment are you going to have, have you finalized a menu, I need all the ingredients and methods for Dave Lamb to read out" he shot out like a machine gun without giving me a chance to say, 'I've changed my mind!'

"Oh heck. What have I got myself into here" I thought.

"Er, James Bond theme I think we'll go for" I said.

"Brilliant" was his one-word answer. "Talk to you later" and in a second he was gone.

From that Monday afternoon to a feteful phone call at 8:06 pm three days later, my life was not my own. I made phone calls, wrote e-mails, planned the room, planned my meals, created a full methodology of when to make and in what order. I also watched a few of the CDWM programmes. I must admit, I had only seen a couple or so before the application form!

Three days later...Thursday
By Thursday lunhchtime everything was in place: I had a Pierce Brosnan lookalike friend lined-up to make an appearance, a 007 Vodka Luge being delivered, LOTS of 007 cardboard cutouts ordered, a red carpet and lots and lots more...

Thursday 8:06pm
Berry rang. "Sorry Chris, no-can-do James Bond. We can't get all the permissions in time. We start filming on Monday. What else would you like to do?" Four days of planning, talking, researching, gone in an instant. I was dumb-founded.

"How about Hollywood, Chris?" Berry posed.

"OK" shell-shocked I replied. Hollywood it was. I had exactly three days to change EVERYTHING. The menu I had spent hours agonizing over and naming had to be changed. I thought how it would look on the screen; my starters started with the letter "O", the main meal again with an "O" and the dessert started with a "7" (as in "7 mini Desserts"). Well, I thought it was half clever. It was not to be. Back to the drawing board. 'Oh the TV life I live' (lol).

MONDAY - First day of Filming Come Dine With Me... read more