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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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I was 'stitched up' on Channel 4 Come Dine With Me show, claims Carlisle man

Two Cumbrians who took part in the hit Channel 4 show Come Dine With Me have spoken of their experience of being in a national TV spotlight.

Nigel Hawes photo
Nigel Hawes

The show’s last episode brought together four amateur chefs from the Carlisle area, who had all volunteered to put their culinary skills to the test in the hope of winning the £1,000 prize for first place,

The winner on the night was complementary therapy student Helen Speakman.

While she was delighted with her victory, not everybody who took part felt the experience was entirely positive.

Railway signalman Nigel Hawes, from Cumwhinton, said many of his friends had been disturbed and annoyed at the negative way he was portrayed by the programme.

He said that Come Dine With Me officials had originally agreed that he could cook his meal at a friend’s house because he is currently undertaking a major renovation and extension project at his home.

“But not long before the show they turned round and told me that wasn’t going to be possible,” said Nigel.

He had to spend frantic hours preparing his home for the arrival of the TV crew, finishing work on his kitchen, creating a dining area in a spare room, and putting in a new front door – a task he finished just hours before filming began.

He said: “They promised me that it would be presented as my challenge for the week – to get the place into some kind of habitable state.

“I can’t cook to save myself – and that certainly came over. The front door went in five hours before they arrived. I had to buy a table and chairs because we had literally been living out of boxes because of the renovation.”

Nigel said he was asked to talk to his guests about his interest in model aircraft – something he would not normally do at a dinner party, but on this occasion it earned him sarcastic remarks in the show’s on air commentary.

He said: “I don’t mind people having a laugh at my expense because people don’t laugh enough. But if somebody inevitably has to end up as the victim of the editing process then on this occasion it was me.”

Nigel failed to impress with his Italian main course and a melon gondola pudding described as “a nightmare” on the Channel 4 website. He said his main motivation for taking part was to plug the York band Pauper Kings, who appeared briefly on the show playing in his living room.

He added that he had been humbled by the support he had been shown by friends – many of who sent text messages defending him.

One comment posted on the website of our sister paper the News & Star said: “I met Nigel at a fundraising event for the disabled and he was brilliant.

“Come Dine With Me chose to portray him in a completely different way, and rubbish his achievements. The editing team should be ashamed of themselves.”

Fellow contestant Andy Bainbridge was more positive about his experience on the show.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Andy, who used to manage Foxes Cafe Bar in Abbey Street. He now lives in London and hoping to make it big with his band Promo Girl.

“It was a hectic time because we were just finalising the sale of Foxes and I had a job interview in London on the Tuesday after filming.

“It was lovely meeting new people for the show and it was a good challenge for me because I really enjoy cooking.”

Andy prepared a starter of mango and prosciutto skewers and a main course of chicken, chorizo and king prawn paella. For pudding, he produced a summer fruit crunch with damson liqueur.

He added: “I got on well with all the people on the show and we said we would stay in touch.”

The final contestant was Deborah Nixon, who works at Lanercost Tea Rooms.

She opted for culinary simplicity, starting with a breakfast fry-up, followed by a chicken maestro main course, and a final course of afternoon tea.

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said: “Come Dine With Me is a very well established format – and firmly tongue-in-cheek. Contestants know what to expect when they take part.”

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