How MasterChef became a gleaming global franchise

“We’ve deliberated, cogitated and digested.” That used to be MasterChef’s quaint catchphrase, way back when it was a 90s teatime oddity, hosted by vowel-mangling saucemonger Loyd Grossman. In 2005, mere months after The X Factor launched, rights to the amateur cook-off were snapped up by Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine TV. Out went Bostonian brainiac Grossman and in came two shouty presenters-cum-judges: Aussie restaurateur John Torode and Sarf London greengrocer Gregg Wallace, with his job title poshed up to “ingredients expert”. The rot set in around 2011, when Wallace-sampling mash-up “Buttery Biscuit Base” went viral and the pud-shoveller decided that calling out a list of ingredients was enough to be considered judging: “You get the beefiness of mushroom, then the nuttiness of butter, then the sweetness of chilli, then comes cleansing lime.” Stop reading out your Ocado substitutions and form aproper sentence. Torode – always the more agreeable of the pair – copped off with Celebrity MasterChef winner Lisa Faulkner, like a curse-of-Strictly showmance with spatulas instead of sequins. It’s now a self-parody on autopilot, where everyone cooks scallops with minted pea puree, followed by chocolate fondant for pud; where Instagram food bores “deconstruct” dishes that were just fine before, while Wallace and Torode yell into their faces like a wine-flushed Jeremy Clarkson in a Cotswolds carvery. On screen over half the year in various incarnations – main show,juniors, pros, celebs – its ubiquity makes Ant and Dec look reclusive.