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Thursday 13 January 2011

Exclusive interview: James Valentine for Come Dine With Me Australia, Series 3.

The series three World Premiere of Come Dine With Me screens from Monday January 17 at 8.30pm, which is beyond exciting for a reality TV tragic like me.

Except, this is far different from your usual reality TV show. Plus, I am not alone when I say it's addictive viewing.

Exclusive to The LifeStyle Channel on Foxtel and Austar, Come Dine With Me Australia sees everyday Aussie battle it out for the title of the ultimate dinner party host. Television and radio presenter James Valentine narrates the series, overseeing each episode with witty observations and unique commentary. I've always said, he's the real star of the show, although the assembled competitors - no doubt chosen on how vastly different they are from each other - make for compulsive viewing.

“Series three looks like a food show, smells like a food show, but it's really a kind of group therapy session with the bonus of a home cooked meal,” said James. “It gives you the opportunity to have dinner with people you would normally cross the road to avoid. There'll be some people you love, some people you can’t stand; there'll be food to die for and food that looks fatal."

The unscripted show follows amateur chefs competing against each other in hosting a dinner party for the other contestants. Each week over five nights, five total strangers take it in turns to cook up their idea of the perfect evening for the other four. Each believes they can cook up the perfect evening and hopes their unique style will clinch them the title of best host.

As well as cooking, the rival hosts snoop around each others’ houses and go to great lengths to win the comp. At the end of the evening, the host is judged by their guests and scored out of ten. The host with the most points at the end of the week wins the cash prize.

Here's the exclusive interview for Josie's Juice with hilarious host James Valentine:

1. Be honest, how much do you laugh (and cringe) when you watch the show previews?
I laugh a lot. This is a well cast show, and each week presents a fascinating group of people. It's incredibly amusing to watch them get so stressed and caught up in doing something as simple as preparing a dinner party. I like it, because the show doesn't make an extreme demand on people. It merely asks them to invite people to their home and entertain them. It's something we all do, but we usually don't have a cameraman hanging about.

2. When you are narrating, is it all just off-the-cuff/call it as you see it?
I try to capture my immediate reaction to what's going on. I write that down and then fiddle with it to make it fit the show. In general I'm trying to articulate what I think the viewer is thinking. If someone serves up something disgusting - it usually works if i say, "Oh My God, that looks disgusting!"

3. Reality shows often have me hoping and praying the ‘nasty one’ comes last – do you find yourself doing the same?
Definitely. This is a show where you become quickly intimate with the participants. And so by the time I'm doing the second or third one for a week, there's people I love and people I don’t. I also find there's people I’m not fond of in the opening night, that I'm crazy about by the final night. It's wrong to judge people, but it's too much fun not to.

4. What do you notice as a pattern for the eventual winner?
I'd say organisation, precise planning, experience, a generous spirit and heaps of booze.

5. What do you think attracts us most to cooking shows with ‘everyday cooks’?
We seem to be going through a period where we are really fascinated by food. We love watching it, many of us are doing fancy cooking, we're interested in different cuisines, we're interested in diet as a health issue - a generation back, food was fuel and there was a bit of French cooking around for a few wealthy people - our relationship to food has had a tectonic shift. In that context we like watching everyone from kids, to everyday cooks to the world's finest chefs.

The 20-part half-hour series is produced by Granada Media Australia for The LifeStyle Channel.

COME DINE WITH ME AUSTRALIA screens weeknights at 8.30pm from Monday January 17 on The LifeStyle Channel, FOXTEL and AUSTAR.

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