CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: With Gordon Ramsay, TV shows are all about the E-Word… Ego


CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: With Gordon Ramsay, TV shows are all about the E-Word… Ego

The Savoy

Rating:

Lawrence Of Arabia: Britain’s Great Adventurer

Rating:

Gordon Ramsay’s road trips were unpleasant enough. Gordon Ramsay’s ego trip is bordering on the unwatchable.

The Savoy (ITV) purported to be a look backstage at one of London’s luxury hotels. We’ve seen it so many times before with the Corinthia, Claridge’s and others, that every series like this feels like a repeat — new or not.

But this one had a different purpose. The waiters, florists and personal butlers were merely walk-on characters, filling in the spaces around their prima donna.

Ramsay runs the Savoy’s centrepiece restaurant, the Grill, a sort of à la carte clip joint charging diners the best part of £100 for a glass of fizz and a slice of posh pie that looks like a microwave meal from Waitrose.

Gordon Ramsay dropped in on staff at The Savoy's centrepiece restaurant, the Grill, which he runs

Gordon Ramsay dropped in on staff at The Savoy’s centrepiece restaurant, the Grill, which he runs

The whole episode built up to a visit from their lord and master. As he crassly pointed out to everyone, ‘it’s my name above the door’, but this doesn’t mean he’s often there.

Exuberant maître d’ Thierry was excited to be welcoming his boss. ‘Hashtag Oh La La!’ he kept exclaiming. When Ramsay arrived, however, he was intent on subjecting Thierry to a public humiliation — apparently to establish which of them was really in charge.

From the moment the Frenchman tried to shake his hand, foul-mouthed Ramsay snubbed him, talking to the female receptionist instead. ‘Ladies first! Where are your manners?’ he snapped.

Ostensibly, the shirty chef was there to taste a new dish, turbot wrapped in pastry. The idea was to sell it for £140 for two, which seems a lot for a fancy fish finger.

Rude dinner guest of the night:

Grayson Perry, on his Big American Road Trip (C4), dined at a swanky house in Martha’s Vineyard and told his hosts their arty island home ‘feels to me like a theme park of liberal tastefulness’. No, I wouldn’t invite him back either.

Ramsay rejected it, then berated Thierry over a chipped plate. The bullying intensified as the poor man wilted. Worse was to come when he tried to carve a platter of duck. ‘When was the last time you sharpened your knife, mon ami?’ Ramsay sneered. ‘You’ve turned a beautiful duck into roadkill.’

The episode might have been one of those training videos John Cleese used to do, for screening at business seminars to teach the sales team how not to behave. Ramsay makes Basil Fawlty himself look charming.

How this exercise in embarrassment ended up on primetime can be explained only when you know which production company commissioned and filmed the series: Studio Ramsay. Their other titles included Ramsay In Ten, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, Gordon Ramsay On Cocaine and The F Word With Gordon Ramsay. A theme is emerging here.

This jumped-up little corporal needs a TV company to prove endlessly what an alpha male he is. A psychological analysis of his childhood might explain why that might be, but that’s one show Studio Ramsay won’t be in a hurry to produce.

Lawrence of Arabia’s childhood explained everything about the man, according to the historians in a two-hour celebration of a soldier who was the most famous celebrity in Britain a century ago.

Clips from David Lean’s epic movie and low-key snippets with a lookalike actor, filmed without dialogue, painted a portrait in Lawrence Of Arabia: Britain’s Great Adventurer (C5) of a restless idealist who set off to the Middle East on an Arthurian quest. The phrase ‘Camelot with camels’ was used a lot.

It was an interesting story, both as a psychological sketch and for the light it shed on modern politics in the region. The arbitrary creation of a country called Iraq was a post-war botch-up that is still causing problems for the world 100 years on, and Lawrence deserves credit for opposing the idea so fiercely.

But why the tale was being told now, and at such length, was never explained.

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