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Wednesday 15 August 2018

It's not what I ordered

masterchef ireland (rte2) george w bush: the 9/11 interview (national geographic)

NICK Munier was less than impressed. "I just find it a bit boring," he said. Munier was giving his opinion on a quail dish served up to him and fellow host/judge Dylan McGrath by one of the hopefuls on MasterChef Ireland.

To be bluntly honest, Munier could have been referring to the programme itself, which got the RTE version of the wildly successful franchise off to a rather humdrum start.

MasterChef has been running on the BBC since 1990, during which time it's undergone numerous rejigs, revamps and relaunches. The format has been tweaked and then un-tweaked. The presenters have changed many times; the first was Loyd Grossman, the current ones are Gregg Wallace and John Torode. It's jumped from BBC1 to BBC2, and shifted from afternoons to evenings.

I'm not quite sure at this stage what the current BBC MasterChef format is, since I haven't watched an episode all the way through for some time, so I can't say how closely the RTE version corresponds to it. But frankly, this opener was a bit of a drag.

The selection process itself is rather dull. There are only so many times you can watch Munier and McGrath taste a dish, then either accept or reject the contestant. There is a third option: in the event of one "yes" and one "no", the contestant is called back for a cook-off the following day.

There were a lot of people to get through. By the end of this first selection session (there's another one tomorrow night) only nine of the 16 coveted MasterChef aprons had been handed out.

It's become a TV rule that the presenters of a cookery show are as much the focus as the actual cooking. In that respect, Munier and McGrath, both experienced television faces by now, make for a curiously muted pair, lacking the vital ingredient: chemistry.

At one point they exchanged an awkward little high-five, which reminded me of a "cool" dad trying to bond with his teenage son's friends. McGrath, who was a compelling if frequently boorish presence in The Pressure Cooker, a series about his single-minded quest to win a Michelin star for his now defunct restaurant Mint, seems to be playing up his urbane side.

There's still a long way to go, of course, and MasterChef Ireland may yet turn out to be a winner. But for now, I think I'll skip the rest of the starter and wait until the main course arrives.

When the planes hit the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, the world wondered why President George W Bush, who had just had the news whispered into his ear, remained in a classroom for 29 minutes, reading a book to a group of primary school children.

Well, now we know the answer. "I was trying to project a sense of calm," said Bush in George W Bush: The 9/11 Interview. "I didn't want to rile the children."

Ah, so that would explain the rabbit-in-the-headlights expression. And why he then walked into another classroom and announced to a group of parents, teachers and children that America was under terrorist attack. Stay calm! Don't panic!

The 9/11 Interview, which wasn't really an interview at all (we never heard a single question asked) but more of a monologue, was a monstrous exercise in self-regard and revisionism by a president who, as anyone who watched the terrible images on the TV that day will recall, seemed clueless.

Here, Bush painted a picture of himself as President John Wayne, desperate to charge back to the White House and take command. When his security men told him he couldn't, he "got heavy with them".

"I realised on September 11th I was a wartime president," he said, still gripped by the thought. "On September 12th, I acted."

And on the 13th day, presumably, he watched some football, ate a pretzel and went to bed early.



masterchef ireland HHIII george w bush: the 9/11 interview HIIII

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