One of the beautiful things about MasterChef is that it rewards its loyal viewers. Whether it is guessing the track that they will play when Gregg & John reveal the winner of each round (nine times out of ten it will be Sigur Rós, Coldplay or Snow Patrol), wincing at the foolhardy contestant who tackles a chocolate fondant or chuckling at the 77th dish of the series containing scallops and pea purée, there is something reassuring and comforting about these little repetitive tweaks and nuances that makes us hardcore Chef-ites feel a little bit smug.
There is no greater sight on British television than that of a chubby greengrocer rubbing his curvaceous tummy with delight as a crème brûlée is plonked in front of him with a spoon. Watching Gregg Wallace's guttural, caveman-esque bellow of "YUMMY!" and gleeful extravagant praise for anything sticky ("I want to put my wellies on and dance all over this blueberry tart", "Phwoar! I'm going to stick my head in this apple tarte tatin and gobble it all up. Phwoar!"), is like witnessing Tiny Tim getting not only a turkey delivered on Christmas Day, but a whole truck of Toys R Us goodies as well.
"You've got 30 minutes left! The Ukrainian National Bodybuilding Convention will be here very soon demanding 400 servings of mash potato, 675 beef stroganoffs and 512 freezer-loads of toad-in-the-holes. Get cooking!" MasterChef tends to be won when cooking dishes for Gregg and John, but the outrageous tasks that they dream up year-after-year are crucial in creating stunning TV moments. There's nothing quite like the sight of a sweaty semi-finalist dropping the pastry for 400 sausage rolls that are supposed to be going out to the cast and crew of Holby City in five minutes' time.
"Linda has burnt her muffins at the last minute." "Robbie has proved that he's an accomplished cook, but can he pack the flavours in his shank of lamb?" "Can Susan get her melons out on time while under extreme pressure?" Voiceover artist extraordinaire India Fisher is as much a part of MasterChef as Gregg, John and the food. Her hushed tones sound overtly sexual even when they're discussing cauliflower cheese. We've never seen a picture of India, but we'd imagine she reads the script from the girls' hockey team dressing room at Queen Margaret's All Girls Institute for Snooty Sorts. Sexier than The Saturdays covered in chocolate pudding, she is one of the show's stars.
Did you actually end up buying Joe McElderry's album? Would you care if you never saw Kara Tointon dance again? Whatever happened to the cast of Fame Academy? Reality TV stars have notoriously short careers once the programmes end and very few actually go on to 'live the dream'. However, MasterChef is a rare beast that breaks the trend. All the winners, and the majority of the finalists, from every series have gone on to achieve great things and have established themselves as respected names in the industry. A few other shows and reality TV judges could certainly learn a thing or two from John & Gregg when it comes to selecting quality and credibility over short-termism and contestants who make great telly and headlines.
MasterChef airs on Wednesday and Thursday at 9pm on BBC One.