Masterchef is a BBC television cookery game show. It ran initially from 1990 to 2001, and was revived in a different format as Masterchef Goes Large from 2005 onwards. The "Goes Large" part of the name was dropped in 2008 but the format remains identical. The revamped format was devised by Karen Ross and John Silver, who updated the original Franc Roddam format.

Original Series

In the original series, three amateur cooks took part in each episode, with nine heats leading up to three semi-finals and a final, in which they competed for the title of "Masterchef". Their task was to cook a gourmet, three-course meal in under two hours. Contestants could cook whatever they liked, though there was a price limit on ingredients. "Everyday" ingredients and equipment was provided for them, in addition to which they could bring in up to five "specialist" ingredients or utensils.

The first incarnation of the series was presented by Loyd Grossman, who was joined each week by two guest judges, one a professional chef, the other a celebrity. Grossman and the guest judges discussed the menus, wandered around talking to the contestants, and finally ate and judged the food at the end. Originally, the judges' "cogitations" took place off-camera, though later on edited highlights of the discussions were added between the tasting and the announcement of the winner.

In 1998, Grossman decided to take a one series sabatical. He returned to present the 1999 series, but left the programme in 2000.

Junior Masterchef

Based on the "Masterchef" format, Junior Masterchef was for cooks up to the age of 16. Presented by Loyd Grossman from 1994-2000, it used the same set and format.


In 2000, the series underwent a makeover. It was moved from its traditional Sunday afternoon slot on BBC1 to a new weeknight slot on BBC2. The "celebrity" judge was dropped, and chef Gary Rhodes took over as presenter. This new version of the series asked contestants to cook just two courses in 90 minutes. It was much criticised (notably by former host Loyd Grossman). It lasted just one series.

Masterchef (Goes Large)

In 2005, Karen Ross and John Silver radically overhauled version of the concept was introduced under the title Masterchef Goes Large (renamed Masterchef in 2008). In the new version, there are two permanent judges, John Torode and Gregg Wallace though neither addresses the viewer directly - instead information is conveyed by a voiceover performed by India Fisher. The new series airs four nights a week for eight weeks, and incorporates various different challenges for the amateur chefs, including:

  • Inventing a dish from scratch in 40 minutes. The contestants can choose from any of a selection of ingredients provided on the day. This forms the first round of the programs and reduces the contestants from six to three cooks.
  • Working a lunchtime shift at a busy restaurant.
  • Cooking a final meal of two courses, with ingredients of the contestants' choice in one hour.

Six contestants begin each heat, with three eliminated after the first task. Contestants often find themselves in two minds whether to 'play it safe' or attempt something slightly more experimental or unorthodox. The daily winners go through to a weekly quarter-final. The weekly quarter-finals produce six winners who are then whittled down over the final two weeks. The quarter-final follows a different structure with different challenges:

  • The ingredients test, where the contestants are asked to identify a selection of ingredients or produce.
  • The Passion Test, in which each contestant has one minute to convince the judges of their overwhelming passion for food (Following these two, one contestant is knocked out without having cooked that day)
  • Finally the contestants produce a three course meal in one hour and twenty minutes.

Although the programme has faced some criticism for perceived "dumbing down", it has proven very popular and is one of BBC Two's more successful early-evening programmes.

Audition Process.

There are three stages to get to appear on the programme.

Stage 1 is to fill out an online application form at
Stage 2 is a telephone interview conducted by one of the researchers from Shine TV, the company that makes the programme. Quite in depth questions concerning your influences, best dishes, style of cooking etc.
Stage 3 is to meet production staff normally at a hotel (they travel around the whole UK) and to talk in front of a camera and take one dish that you have prepared yourself which must be cold.

Celebrity Masterchef

Based on the format of "Masterchef Goes Large", a new programme of celebrity contestants face the Masterchef challenge on BBC One. There are three contestants per episode with a total of 24 celebrities taking part , who follow the full Masterchef Goes Large test.

In 2006, rugby player Matt Dawson beat Arabella Weir, Charlie Dimmock, David Grant, Fred MacAulay, Graeme Le Saux, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Helen Lederer, Ian McCaskill, Jilly Goolden, Kristian Digby, Lady Isabella Hervey, Linda Barker, Marie Helvin, Paul Young, Richard Arnold, Roger Black, Rowland Rivron, Sarah Cawood, Sheila Ferguson, Simon Grant, Sue Perkins, Tony Hadley and Toyah Willcox

In 2007, Nadia Sawalha beat Midge Ure, Craig Revel Horwood, Jeremy Edwards, Chris Bisson, Martin Hancock, Sunetra Sarker, Gemma Atkinson, Sherrie Hewson, Pauline Quirke, Rani Price, Chris Hollins, Matthew Wright, Angela Rippon, Sue Cook, Lorne Spicer, Emma Forbes, Jeff Green, Darren Bennett, Sally Gunnell, Mark Foster, Matt James, Robbie Earle and Phil Tufnell.

In 2008, Liz McClarnon beat Linda Robson, Louis Emerick, Wendi Peters, Debra Stephenson, Chris Parker, Joe McGann, Steven Pinder, Mark Moraghan, Vicki Michelle, Sean Wilson, Clare Grogan, Hywel Simons, DJ Spoony, Claire Richards, Denise Lewis, Noel Whelan, Andi Peters, Andrew Castle, Michael Buerk, Kaye Adams, Julia Bradbury, Josie D'Arby and Ninia Benjamin.

Masterchef: The Professionals

A version for professional chefs. While Greg Wallace and India Fisher reprise their roles as co-judge and voiceover, Torode is replaced by Michel Roux Jr, who has two michelin stars. Derek Johnstone won the competition on the 19th September 2008, and went on to take a job with Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche restaurant in London.



Junior Masterchef

Masterchef (Goes Large)

Celebrity Masterchef

Masterchef: The Professionals

  • 2008 - Derek Johnstone (chef)

Note: The original Masterchef and Junior Masterchef did not air in 1998

External links

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