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Friday Film Review: Posh Nosh

Posh Nosh (2003)
Genre: Cooking Show parody
Grade: A

Well, it’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the US and I’m sure some people are still in a turkey stupor. But for those of you who’ve managed to regain conciousness or those who don’t celebrate the holiday, here’s a little treat in the form of a screamingly funny satire of all those overdone cooking shows which most of us don’t have a hope in hell of actually being able to replicate what they show us. Nor, from what I’ve heard of some Rachel Ray recipes, would we want to.

“Posh Nosh,” starring Arabella Weir and Richard E. Grant as The Honorable Minty and Simon Marchmont, was a BBC series of 8 episodes – some sites state there were 9 but I can’t find any sign of the AWOL one anywhere. It parodies cooking shows and elitism food – Minty Marchmont often uses extremely inaccessible, yet amazingly expensive, ingredients (like a  £45,000 whole sturgeon) while smilingly telling the viewer that she and Simon just got back from their annual stocking up trip to Greece or Provence. The cooking explanations are chock full of silly euphemisms for how to prepare the ingredients – one never peels one’s vegetables, one embarrasses them while stock is annoyed (annoying times vary) rather than cooked down. And when draining vegetables, give them a frisson – they like that.

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While Minty does all the hard work – just watch the opening credits to see how the work load is divided, Simon is in charge of the wine selection. His overblown, artistically nonsensical descriptions of the  £40 bottles – which he insists the guests of the couple’s high brow restaurant, “The Quill and Tassel,” buy to go along with their meals – are a lesson in funny. As is his devotion to their dog, Sam, and his Spanish tennis coach Jose Luis. No, no, not the dog’s tennis coach, Simon’s tennis coach. Also watch for the ridiculous website addresses such as www.sexmexavacado.com and www.arthurleggbourkersfarmnearbanbury.co.uk which will flash across the screen to advertise where the Marchmonts get some of their ingredients.

One thing that non UK watchers might not catch onto is the fact that Minty is lower middle class desperately trying to fit into the aristocratic world of her husband, plummy voiced Simon. Minty can drop a name with the best of the wannabes while Simon curls his lip at her pronunciations. These two definitely have a dysfunctional marriage which becomes more glaringly obvious as the episodes progress. However, I think Simon would be more lost were Minty to take his mother’s Aga and go. Minty also seems quite aware of what her husband’s true sexual inclinations are but willing to put up with the tennis coaches for her title. And she can drop her own insults almost as well as Simon. (‘Lard makes me think of fat people in the co-op – perhaps you’re one of them.’ ‘Buy stock cubes if you have no self esteem.’)

Weir and Grant are spot on and pitch perfect in their roles. And the comedy works so well because of its subtly. Grant delivers his scathing lines like a stiletto between the ribs while Minty is always wittering on about the gifts her mother-in-law gave her – all without seeming to realize that they are things one would give one’s cook, not one’s daughter-in-law. Grant also parodies his role in “Withnail and I” during the sauces episode in which he rants and stumbles about the kitchen. And do watch all the episodes through to the end to catch the faux short promotional pitches for things “from the Posh Nosh range” of (overpriced and pretentious) fine foods.

So take a break from the leftovers, escape the in-laws and head over to youtube where two or three fine people have loaded the 8 episodes for your viewing pleasure. They’re only 9 minutes each and the time will fly.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

20 Comments

  1. Sarah Morgan
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 04:09:52

    Despite being British, I somehow missed this so thanks for that tip Jane. Arabella Weir is multi talented – I read a book of hers some years ago, ‘Does my bum look big in this’ and it was very funny. She has written a lot of material for the BBC and for the newspapers.
    Hope your Thanksgiving was good.

  2. Sarah Morgan
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 04:10:49

    sorry, getting my Janes mixed up, meant Jayne :)

  3. Ros
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 04:16:48

    I ADORE Posh Nosh. Perfect little TV gems of comedy. It is what YouTube was invented for.

  4. Ros
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 04:18:38

    Also, you may like the Posh Nosh Cook Book.

    (Disclaimer: I wrote it.)

  5. Tweets that mention Friday Film Review: Posh Nosh | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 04:51:41

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ros Clarke, dearauthor. dearauthor said: NewPost: Friday Film Review: Posh Nosh http://bit.ly/dY6G78 […]

  6. Jayne
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 06:51:55

    @Sarah Morgan: Weir is just darling in these shows – I think she’s one of the co-writers, IIRC.

  7. Jayne
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 06:53:04

    @Ros: The episodes are the perfect length – about 9 minutes each. Little polished gems, indeed!

  8. Jayne
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 06:59:03

    @Ros: LOL, very funny. Sounds just like them.

  9. Maria Zannini
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 08:26:19

    I loved this little show! I didn’t realize there were so few of them made. I just thought I had bad luck finding them.

    To this day, I still embarrass my lettuce before I make a salad.

  10. Jayne
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 08:43:05

    @Maria Zannini: Just 8 of them that I can find. If someone would put them out on a DVD, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I love the opening and closing music they use as well.

    And always remember to thrill your mussels open (thrilling times vary) in hot, bubbling water.

  11. Caro
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 09:49:15

    Definitely just the eight episodes — but each of them is a gem. On a radio show, Weir said she got the idea when watching one of these cooking shows and the host was rambling on in the usual plummy fashion — then suddenly said something absolutely snide about her husband. The show grew from that.

    I would so buy these on DVD in an instant if the BBC would release them.

    @Ros — Love the Posh Nosh Cookbook. You caught the tone just right.

  12. Ros
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 12:04:23

    Thanks, Jayne and Caro – I had the most fun ever writing it!

  13. Estara
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 12:17:47

    Oh thanks for this tip. That sounds right up my alley! If you like Richard E. Grant, he wrote an diary for Whitnail and I and narrated the audiobook for it, too. It’s BRILLIANT!

  14. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 12:56:15

    Fabulous little show that the BBC just slipped in as little fillers.
    Minty is definitely “nouveau,” she tries just that little bit too hard, her clothes are too perfect and occasionally wrong – they veer into the vulgar from time to time.
    The most eccentric cook was the notorious and unbelievable Fanny Cradock and her husband Johnny. Nobody has ever equalled them for sheer amazingness. She would cook in full evening rig, and she did a series of live shows, too, with Johnny and her boys – she had a train of good looking boys to fetch and carry for her.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1fIj6_lDZ8
    Thing is, she was serious.

  15. Jayne
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 18:21:54

    @Estara: I adore Grant and have read the book. At the time I read it, I was amazed at how candid he is about Hollywood and other actors. The tone put me in mind of sitting down for a long, cozy chat during which I know I’ll be laughing my head off at the gossipy nuggets he has to tell. Didn’t he write a second book or am I just wishful?

  16. Jayne
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 18:32:55

    @Lynne Connolly: Oh, my God. She’s a scream. Love her advice to take out your feelings while stabbing the Christmas goose so it won’t repeat on the maiden aunt.

  17. Maili
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 08:09:15

    BBC series of 8 episodes – some sites state there were 9 but I can't find any sign of the AWOL one anywhere.

    There are only eight.

    Although all three – Gareth Edwards, Jon Canter and Arabella Weir – denied this, I still think this couple is partly based on Christine and Neil Hamilton.

    More proof: the Hamiltons tried to launch a cookery show, during 2000 or 2001, called ‘Posh Nosh With the Hamiltons’. :D

    My favourite part is in their press release, they described it as – as far as I can remember – “part The Fanny and Johnny Craddock Show and part Batman-and-Robin. Pow!” And it was really like that, but in a bad way.

    The pilot was so bad that I still cringe. They insisted anyone can cook their recipes, but some items were toe-cringingly expensive (Christine: “We bought this [fish name] from the Isle of Skye! Only £42! Very cheap. Isn’t it, Neil?” Neil: *dirty-sounding titter*). And the recipes? So time-consuming. While Christine ran around like a chicken on fire, Neil just stood there in an apron, with a glass of wine, and sprouted odd comments about all sorts, such as fox hunting.

    When I first saw Jon and Arabella’s Posh Nosh, I thought it was a parody of that pilot. :D

  18. Jayne
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 08:44:44

    @Maili: It certainly sounds like a parody from the way you describe it – and I agree it sounds cringe worthy at best.

  19. Sunita
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 22:22:17

    Jayne, I love you even more for this review. I stumbled across Posh Nosh a few years ago when PBS bundled it with Laurie & Fry’s Jeeves & Wooster. We couldn’t believe it. BBC is missing such a great opportunity by not putting it on DVD.

    I *think* the Paella/tennis episode is my favorite, but it’s so hard to choose. Architect’s fish and chips is awfully good, especially when you watch it right after a serious fish&chips episode on a food tv show.

  20. Jayne
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 07:12:01

    @Sunita: I waffle about which episode is my favorite. The paella is wonderful but Simon’s drunken ranting about sauces is glorious. And then there’s the leftovers…

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