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21 April 2014
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Chef!

Everton and Gareth in sitcom Chef!

It's a tribute to writer/actor Peter Tilbury that he got in early with Chef! The nineties only hinted at the glut and ubiquity of egotistical chefs who would become such a staple on British TV.

In Gareth Blackstock, he created a classic TV monster: an arrogant, bullish perfectionist more at ease dealing with profiteroles than people.

Lenny Henry and Gary Parker Chef!

Lenny Henry deftly played against type as the grumpy, temperamental but undoubtedly talented chef who ruled his kitchen with a rod of iron and his own particular brand of withering put downs.

Henry managed to make Blackstock three dimensional and human though, taking the slings and arrows life threw at him as a personal slight, much to the irritation of his calmly professional wife Janice.

His ire wasn't reserved for the staff; he was prone to berating customers at length for daring to ask for salt without having tasted their food.

The series was filmed on location (giving the series a classier look than its studio bound contemporaries) and the setting was Gareth's restaurant Le Chateau Anglais.

The cast of Chef!

Whilst Henry and Caroline Lee Johnson provided a solid if tempestuous nucleus to the series, the supporting cast fared less well: with only Roger Griffiths as harassed and credulous commis chef Everton surviving the whole run.

The staff of series three got the best crack of the whip, notably Dave Hill as new boss Cyril and Jeff Nuttall as the misogynist Gustave.

As the series wound down, Blackstock mellowed (although too late to save his marriage), but he still stands tall as proof that there's more to cheery, smiley Lenny Henry than he is sometimes given credit for.

Chef! itself is unlikely to be remembered as anything other than an efficient and workmanlike sitcom, which didn't break any boundaries, but did what it did perfectly well.

Cast

Lenny Henry
Gareth Blackstock
Caroline Lee Johnson
Janice
Roger Griffiths
Everton
Gary Parker
Piers
Claire Skinner
Lucinda
Erkan Mustapha
Otto
Ian McNeice
Gustave
Jeff Nuttall
Gustave
Hilary Lyon
Alice
Pui Fan Lee
Debra
Gary Bakewell
Donald
Jean Luc Rebaliati
Alphonse
Lorelei King
Savannah
Dave Hill
Cyril
Sophie Walker
Renee
Peter Tilbury
Restaurant manager
Oliver Samuels
Quentin Blackstock

Crew

Peter Tilbury
writer
Paul Makin
writer
Geoff Deane
writer
Paul Makin
writer
John Birkin
director
Dewi Humphreys
director
Charlie Hanson
producer
Polly McDonald
executive producer

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