Big Zuu’s Big Eats: The funniest cooking show ever made | Television

I have been watching a lot of youtube lately, which you are right to interpret as a cry for help. If you haven’t been on YouTube in the last nine years or so – since that first brilliant explosion of ‘vloggers’, when Zoella was somehow the most loved and hated person in the UK, often by same people – it changed there, drastically. People always say “Hi guys!”, of course. There are still a lot of ringlights and people are talking too loudly in their cars. But production values ​​have changed: instead of a constant loop of prank strings or people tediously detailing their trips around town, big content creators create elaborate sets, take months to tell a story, employ studios to host sets and are constantly collaborating with other channels. . Being a YouTube creator is like being a cross between Ant and Dec, an elite athlete, a production company, and a legacy TV channel, and YouTube itself is completely different from that first cultural boom there. 10 years. And yet the basis of every viral video – whether it’s a celebrity shopping in sneakers or a group of guys battling football challenges for 45 endless minutes – is always more or less this: get enough charismatic people in one room and let them joke around. , and it will be fun to watch.

Which brings us to Big Zuu’s Big Eats (Monday, 10:00 p.m.), double Bafta-winning Dave’s flagship show, now entering its third series, and an example of a modern TV concept that wants to learn from YouTube without trying to be YouTube. The rough idea remains the same – Big Zuu and his best school friends Hyder and Tubsey travel around the UK in a food van, cooking a beautifully personalized three-course meal for a celebrity every week – but now all minor issues from the previous 20 episodes have been ironed out.

Big brothers… Hyder, Big Zuu and Tubsey. Photography: ©UKTV/David Gennard

The first season just saw Zuu cooking for comedians, and now he’s cooking for anyone. The food truck gets bigger every time. His bandmates are more comfortable in front of the camera and don’t have to resort to that kind of planned “what if we go shopping, but also mess around” slapstick as much. Two crucial changes make each episode of series three feel smoother than before: instead of spending excruciating screen time learning about the city they’re in or watching a staged scene where the celebrity does some activity that sums up his reality (Maya Jama’s mom is at a cocktail-making class! Guz Khan is performing on stage at the Leamington spa!), guests now come into the van and prepare food while talking. That means you see every guest being genuinely, disarmingly charming while being distracted by a deep fryer, and you get an extra part of what makes the show so magical: Big Zuu interacting with people.

What must it be like to go through life with so much raw charisma? Everyone is enchanted by him: In the first episode of the new series, Johnny Vegas is in the shape of his life and seems to be having a child-level day at Christmas with his new best friend. Often two courses in their meal, guests raise a glass to Zuu and declare that they love her. Every menu tells a story – Zuu often asks what they ate growing up, or what meant a lot to them as children, and never hesitates to empathize with a guest if they also grew up poor – and it’s nice that you get to see them making the food, rather than serving clean bowls of produce put together by production runners. But above all, no one has ever had a bad time in this series, and it shows. Each episode is 28.5 minutes of pure, contagious joy.

When have you seen such a fun cooking show? Sunday brunch doesn’t count, as Tim Lovejoy weaves onto the set like a man enduring one last cigarette before the firing squad and Simon Rimmer cooks with the elan of a man trying to get 10 weary deer into a van for paintball. Jamie Oliver’s turn of the millennium stuff wasn’t fun either, it just included a lot of scenes of him playing drums and he had a moped. The best cooking shows are obviously just “Rick Stein in a straw hat, drinking wine in Europe,” the kind of quiet fare you can watch eight episodes with a nap in between. But right behind that is Big Eats: a show that understands that the best part of celebrity TV is the celebrities hanging out, and the best part of a meal is good company, and the best part of serving Johnny Vegas a barrel full of the sauce is that you can both make jokes about it afterwards.

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