An unreserved Come Dine with Me fan explains why giving a TV show up for Lent has never been so difficult.
Dear Come Dine with Me,
Just thought I’d pen you a quick note as, after a week of not seeing you, I’m beginning to feel pretty bereft. I also know it’s out of character for me not to be around. The decision to give you up for Lent wasn’t easy, but one I thought I should take after the following situation occurred.
My boyfriend bought me a pair of gold earrings for my birthday. They are lovely. But I was quite surprised as he’s not really the jewellery-buying type. When I queried his choice, these actual words came out of his actual mouth: “I wanted to get you a thoughtful gift that had something to do with one of your interests. But when I thought about what your interests are, all I came up with was sitting on your arse and watching Come Dine with Me.”
Now, my love, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t watch you a bit. What with the daytime repeats on Channel 4, the new episodes in the evening, the Sunday marathons on More4 (oh, the bliss!) and – just in case any of that passed me by – the almost constant repeats of 4Seven, you’re pretty hard to miss. To be honest, you’re whoring yourself about a bit but, hey, I’m all for sexual empowerment so you GO babe.
However, when I realised how much you define me, it did sting a bit. Not that I’m not proud of you, and love you, but you are a TV programme. And I’m a person. People talk, you know?
I protested that I didn’t need you, that our relationship was just a casual thing. So what if there are 187 unwatched episodes waiting on my YouView box? So what if I have to scan seven of them before finding one I haven’t seen? So what if I can determine whether I’ve seen it within 1.5 seconds? So what if, when a contestant opens their door to greet a guest, I smile too as if I’m there? I’m FINE!
Anyway, in the meantime, my boyfriend didn’t say I couldn’t speak to you, just that I couldn’t see you. (Neither did he mention that series link which will continue to record at a rate of four episodes per day for all 40 days of Lent. I know what I’M doing over the Easter weekend.)
So far, it’s been OK. I’ve been keeping myself busy by seeing friends, throwing myself into my work. I’ve even started azonto dance classes. But there’s nothing that can match the excitement you bring. Like when a contestant makes a souffle (“ooh, that’s brave”). Or what about chocolate fondue for dessert? Will the inside be runny or is it overcooked? I can hardly watch. Of course there’s always Mr. Confident, who thinks his chicken boob wrapped in Parma ham, stuffed with cream cheese and baked for seven hours is going to win him that grand. And Miss Picky: did you make your own pastry? Did you kill your own chicken? I hope you carved the table we’re eating off from your own goddamn skeleton.
You see, sweetheart, when you’re around no one can possibly feel alone. Even if I’m sitting on my sofa in Peckham, I’m immediately transported to that dinner party in East Worcestershire, or Solihull, or any number of other fabulous places you take me (let’s not even go into Come Dine with Me Down Under). I get to poke around some 60-year-old woman’s knicker drawer and find those fluffy handcuffs ‘accidentally’ left strewn in plain sight. I get to cringe when someone thinks it’s a good idea to bring a 30-piece brass band into their tiny living room to play for their guests. There is, simply, nothing like you.
There is one thing I need to tell you and I don’t want you to get upset. I was feeling pretty down about everything one day and, in a moment of madness, I watched Four in a Bed. I’m so sorry, darling, you know I wouldn’t have done it if you had been there. I just thought it might remind me of you. It didn’t and after the episode ended I felt dirty and ashamed. I know it was wrong, but 40 days is a really long time and a woman has needs, you know?
Anyway, I hope this letter finds you well. Say hi to Dave Lamb for me. And I absolutely can’t wait to see you again.
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All images: Channel 4