I was reading an blog when the person in question mentioned that he watched this show to see what it was like. He acknowledged that it wasn't great but that it wasn't as bad as many of the critical reviews would have you believe. Given that this blogger also (in another entry) called me "imdb's idiot-in-residence" and said he had yet to find a review that he agreed with, I decided to give Nigella a try to see if this was yet another subject that we disagreed on. It did worry me a bit when he recommended it on the basis that Nigella was "fit", when really I just think she looks like a rather unnatural horsey type with clipped upper-class tones. Anyway, I am sorry to report that my inability to find common ground with this guy has continued because this is a terrible show even by the lower standards of daytime entertainment.
Each show opens with Nigella's guest and two others sitting in comfy chairs in a mocked up, quite posh front room where she is required to engage in easy banter about nothing much. This can work but Nigella is too unnatural and uneasy to make it work. The chat is often clunky and any contributions she make tend to drag things to a halt rather than making it all move forward well. This section had me cringing at how bad it all was. The next section sees Nigella cooking a meal with her guest while also trying to keep the easy banter/interview going. Considering that she hadn't done this well when "relaxed" and focused how did they expect her to do it when trying to make a meal at the same time; needless to say she is as bad as before and the time pressure brought with the cooking means she often stops any flow that her guest gets into. Even as a viewer I felt confused what was I meant to be paying attention to? The end result was that neither parts of it worked.
After this we get back to the "front room" for more topic chat before we move into the worst section of the show where Nigella tries to help viewers solve problems they may have. It is terribly insincere and Nigella rarely allows room for the problems to be picked over, instead she just comes out with her opinion and then talks over the others if they disagree.
None of this is helped by a total lack of atmosphere in the studio. The audience is shot with a tight camera to suggest that more people are out of shot, but they aren't that's the lot of them. Apparently they had problems getting people to come to the taping, even though it was free, and it shows. The audience sound like they have men poking them with sticks to draw a reaction and they certainly never get into the show or appear to be somewhere they really want to be. Nigella seems oblivious to this (mainly because she is working so hard to read the autocue, widen her eyes and cock her head at the same time) however some her guests seem really uncomfortable by the atmosphere and it shows. The TV audience have seen it too because after the first few days it lost 40% of the audience and has yet to really steady itself out.
Overall this is poor even when you compare it to the low standards of its peers like This Morning, Trisha and others. It all feels unnatural and forced, lacks atmosphere and at points had me cringing at Nigella's inability to present. I know she has done it before but an instructional cookery show is a lot different than having to actually have rapport with guests and a live audience. Worth watching once just to see how awful it really is.
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