Wallace with MasterChef co-host, Jon TorodeTWITTER/FACESOFGREGG

Gregg Wallace is everywhere filling the prime time early evening slots on the BBC; this smiley bald man has become nearly omnipresent in our cultural landscape, as grocer-cum-chef, -cum-health guru, -cum-ballroom dancer, -cum-whatever else the BBC has lined up next. Irrespective of what he’s actually tasked with, Gregg invariably takes to light-hearted early evening magazine TV as a duck does to water – and that, my friends, is his brilliance.

“His celebrity concoction is as much a marvel as any in the MasterChef kitchen.”

The man requires little introduction; a greengrocer-turned-celebrity who rose to prominence in the early 2000s, he has bafflingly become a British televisual staple. On our screens, he serves as the passionate outsider, dispatched to marvel at whatever is lain before him. On MasterChef, a show full of weird courgette foams and raspberry airs, his role is to guide and reassure, teaching us – the mere humble viewer – that it is okay not to understand. Whilst fellow judges will comment from a position of verifiable expertise and knowledge on the technique and relative refinement of a given dish, Gregg simply gives us the punter’s view. He adopts classic, thought-provoking lines such as, “that is tasty pudding”, “that is a tender piece of meat”, or the incisive commentary on a bitter lemon. This is all paired with nothing else but a can-do attitude. The juxtaposition of pompous dolled-up food and Gregg’s rudimentary (read: basic) grip of adjectives is visionary.

Wallace in one of his infamous factory visits, explaining to the masses how sausages are madeTWITTER/FOODMANUFACTURE

Gregg is often lambasted for being loud, annoying or ignorant. Frankly, dear reader, he is all those things, but that is his unique gift. He is our everyman. How would we even begin to comprehend a deconstructed coriander cheesecake without his chortles and claims that it somehow “makes him smile”? He is a necessarily reassuring voice in an ever more artistically confusing and adventurous world. He puts things in terms that we can all understand. Take, for instance, Inside the Factory with Gregg Wallace, one of his finest offerings. How can one not be moved by the beautiful image of a fully grown man pretending to be excited by the mass manufacture of supermarket sausages? Akin to a small child, he marvels as vast sediments of emulsifiers are lumped into industrial vats of meat, grinning like an excitable puppy as rough cuts are nauseatingly ground together. Hilarity ensues as Gregg gleefully has a crack at filling sausage skins, providing a ray of sunshine amongst the scowls and forced smiles of the disgruntled factory workers tasked with minding him. This is as fine a scene as any penned for the cultural behemoths such as Mad Men.

A shot from one of Gregg's home-workoutsTWITTER/FACESOFGREGG

Yet, Gregg’s enduring celebrity remains deeply mystifying; certain parts of his image are confusing, or just don’t make sense. His bizarre relationship with fellow MasterChef judge Jon Torode is a case in point. Jon was best man at Gregg’s wedding, despite countless extremely public claims by Jon that they don’t actually get along, and have never been to each other’s houses. Stunning. Or think perhaps of Gregg’s inspiring weight-loss journey, now spun out into a lucrative diet programme. On a dedicated Instagram page, he reveals his secret to burning off those tasty puddings he devours on MasterChef, performing live workouts to his loyal 500 followers. They, too, can replicate his new, healthier lifestyle. He has consequently, seemingly, been propelled to a perverse status as a sex symbol. His marvellous weight loss, and new ‘almost-six-pack’, was eloquently described by one Mumsnet user as transforming him from a “treacle-covered toe” to “Mr sexy chops.” There is something Alan Partridge-esque in watching a television star undertake live workouts from his kitchen whilst simultaneously flogging a diet programme to 50-something-year-old mums. However, whatever the unique, muddled, mind-boggling persona of Gregg Wallace may actually be, it works. His celebrity concoction is as much a marvel as any in the MasterChef kitchen.


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Much like the mass-produced sausage, it is perhaps better to never truly understand Gregg. Rather than attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible, we should instead revel in his mystique, recognising and respecting him for what he gives us. Indeed, he is the veritable gristle in the mass-produced sausage of British life. Whilst not evidently clever, or artful, or particularly likeable, or even qualified for his roles, his character is as genius as anything on stage at The National Theatre. So, next time you accidentally find yourself listening to him (and it will be accidentally) poorly describe cuisine, dance awfully on Strictly, appear on Loose Women, walk wide-eyed around big factories, or do topless squats in his kitchen, remember this: he is what our world needs. God bless Gregg, and his love of puddings.

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