The incongruous pair have cooked together on television before, but the revelation that Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are to host a new cookery show together has sent shock waves around the world nonetheless. To watch Snoop Dogg, a man known for songs like Drop it Like it’s Hot and Smoke the Weed, cheerfully mash potatoes with Stewart while wearing sunglasses indoors is a special sight. Indeed, the partnership proved so popular that there was no point denying the public what they deserved: VH1 decided to make an entire series of Martha and Snoop’s Dinner Party. Reflecting on the announcement, Snoop said: “My homegirl Martha and I have a special bond that goes back. We’re gonna be cooking, drinking and having a good time with our exclusive friends.” This is the kind of courageous and distinctive programming from which British television should draw inspiration. Taking a leaf out of America’s book, here are some suggestions for other shows fronted by unlikely duos.
No Bacon, Please, We’re Bacon
Kevin Bacon and Richard Bacon front a vegetarian cooking show in which they continuously emphasize to viewers that they will not be cooking any bacon-based recipes. This element of the program, hammered home every two minutes, dominates proceedings to the extent that the duo only manage to make half of one meal per 45-minute episode. Heralded as one of the most mesmerizing shows on television, No Bacon, Please, We’re Bacon becomes a cult classic.
Proper Moist History
Episode one of this experimental history program: we fade in on a field somewhere in Berkshire. David Starkey stands motionless in tweed jacket, maroon bow tie and olive wellies. He eyes the camera intensely before furiously striding forward. “History,” he intones, “is a many-splendoured thing. It teaches us of the great men of the past. It is beguiling. It is enthralling. It is inspiring. But perhaps most of all, it is …” Out of nowhere, disgraced comedian Dapper Laughs bursts head-first into the foreground. “Proper moist! Oi oi!” he gurns, grabbing a fistful of Starkey’s groin. What follows is 12 episodes of confused television, in which Starkey holds forth on the import of various historical events while Mr Laughs rates them on a scale of one to moist.
Gary Oldman and Clare Balding candidly opine on the pitfalls of ageing. Never having appeared onscreen together before, Balding and Oldman initially made producers nervous. Barely 10 seconds into the show, however, as they playfully wrap their arms around each other, their chemistry is blindingly obvious. The show becomes one of BBC One’s flagship programmes. “I love Gary like a great-grandfather,” says Balding.
Yes, This Is Really Happening (Gold, Saturdays, 12pm)
Ann Widdecombe clumsily swings from a trapeze into the studio. “Oh hi Ann, how are you?” says Katie Price. “Hello – Katie – well – thank – you,” wheezes Ann. So begins Gold’s latest and bravest quiz show, fronted by the oddest of all TV’s odd couples. In between interrogating contestants on their general knowledge and rewarding them with sweets, Price and Widdecombe (or Widd and Kate, as they affectionately call themselves) perform skits that make full comic use of their hilariously different shapes.
Torrenting with Tarrant and Tarantino
“HELLO!” booms Chris Tarrant to camera, swinging an iPad around. “What shall we torrent tonight, dear viewer?” Behind him a drowsy Quentin Tarantino sits, stirring his coffee. Over the course of 90 minutes, the pair discuss what each of them has been torrenting over the past week. Tarrant’s knowledge of the world of torrenting is quickly exposed as negligible, and Tarantino – who speaks in curt, guarded sentences – predominantly torrents his own movies. Torrenting with Tarrant and Tarantino is called “an unmitigated disaster”, cancelled before its second episode, and replaced by Carp Fishing with Michael Fish and Mardy Fish.
Where’s the Hamm?
Sue Barker and Eamonn Holmes are on a quest to find Jon Hamm, who has been hidden in a medieval castle somewhere in Britain. Hamm has been there for six days and must avoid being detected by the seasoned broadcasters, who know he must surface at some point to replenish his food and drink supply. Inexplicably, during episode three, Hamm escapes without Barker or Holmes noticing.
Too Many Cox Spoil the Broth
The actor Brian Cox and the professor Brian Cox speak in perfect unison over a jaunty jingle: “Good morning and a very warm welcome to … Too Many Cox Spoil the Broth!” The aim of this innovative cookery show, in which members of the public are invited to compete in the studio, is to determine which Cox can best derail a contestant. Both men must distract and disrupt the chefs – throwing their pans to the ground, hurling chopping boards in their faces – until a judgement is made on who spoiled the broth more effectively. Needless to say, this is a runaway success, attracting record audience numbers for its time slot.