I had a rather odd conversation with my uncle today. We were at a family occasion and he was asking about my filmmaking futures, and he mentioned in passing that his TV show was in a spot of bother.
You see, he’s the successful and enthusiastically reviewed owner and chef of an Italian restaurant in Scarborough, and over the past decade or so cultivated a reputation as something of a celebrity chef, appearing on various BBC programmes, radio shows and working with the Hairy Bikers at a culinary school.
I asked him more about this show, which was apparently commissioned by the Beeb for six episodes a couple of years ago, following his unusual methods of blending Italian and Yorkshire cuisine, but after two episodes’ worth had been filmed, the plug was pulled when it was decided that the market had become too saturated with that kind of thing.
The producers are purportedly looking for other networks and have had various levels of interest, but it seems very dodgy that a TV license-funded organisation would just chuck something away like that (dodgy, but not altogether surprising). Especially since the director was/is Robert Young, a regular TV and occasional film director on Jeeves and Wooster, Young Indiana Jones and an adaptation of Jane Eyre who you would think had paid his dues.
And then he went on to tell me about all the politics and backbiting and strange BAFTA parties in London. Any sense of foreboding or pre-emptive exhaustion was washed away by my own sinister curiosity.
Sure, it might not pan out and you could end up on the wrong side of the poverty line, but at least you’ll have some stories to tell, right?
P.S. For those who are interested, my uncle’s name is Giorgio Alessio and his restaurant is the Lanterna Ristorante in Scarborough. It’s pretty bloody amazing and can easily go toe-to-toe with any of the best eateries in most major cities in this country. You can buy his cookbook (yes, I am related to someone who has their own cookbook, which I find hilarious) here.