MasterChef (UK TV series)

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MasterChef Logo & Wordmark.svg
Also known as MasterChef Goes Large
Genre Cooking
Created by Franc Roddam
Presented by Original series:
Loyd Grossman (Series 1–10)
Gary Rhodes (Series 11)
Judges Revived series:
Gregg Wallace
John Torode
Narrated by India Fisher (2005–present)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series MasterChef:
11 (original)
12 (revived)
Celebrity MasterChef:
11 (aired to date)
No. of episodes MasterChef:
146 (original series, inc. specials)
278 (revived series, at the end of series 10)
Celebrity MasterChef:
211 (end of series 10)
Executive producer(s) Franc Roddam
Producer(s) Karen Ross
David Ambler
Location(s) Original series:
The Maidstone Studios
Revived series:
City University's Bastwick Street Halls of Residence (2005–2011)[1][2]
Ram Brewery (2011–2014)[3][4]
Stage 15, 3 Mills Studios (2014-)[5]
Running time 30–90 minutes
Production company(s) Union Pictures[6] (1990–2000)
Union/West 175 (2001)
Shine TV (2005–present)
Distributor Ziji Productions
Original network BBC One (1990–2000, 2009–)
BBC Two (2001, 2005–2008 and Celebrity MasterChef 2012)
Picture format 4:3 (1990–2001)
16:9 (2005–present)
Original release Original series:
2 July 1990 (1990-07-02) – 3 July 2001 (2001-07-03)
(11 years, 1 day)
Revived series:
21 February 2005 (2005-02-21) – present
(12 years, 213 days)
Related shows Britain's Best Bakery
External links

MasterChef is a BBC television competitive cooking show. It initially ran from 1990 to 2001 and was later revived in a different format known as MasterChef Goes Large from 2005 onwards. In 2008, the "Goes Large" part of the name was dropped, but the format remains identical. The revamped format was devised by Franc Roddam and John Silver with Karen Ross producing.

The series now appears in four versions: the main MasterChef series, MasterChef: The Professionals for working chefs, Celebrity MasterChef and Junior MasterChef for 9-to-12-year-olds.[7] The format has been reproduced around the world in a large number of international versions.

Original series[edit]

In the original series, three amateur cooks took part in each episode, with nine heats leading up to three semifinals and a final, in which they competed for the title of MasterChef. Their task was to cook a gourmet three-course meal in under two hours. Contestants could cook whatever they liked, although there was a price limit on ingredients. "Everyday" ingredients and equipment were provided for them, in addition to which they could bring in up to five "specialist" ingredients or utensils.

The first incarnation of the series was presented by Loyd Grossman, who was joined each week by two guest judges, one a professional chef, the other a celebrity. Grossman and the guest judges discussed the menus, wandered around talking to the contestants and finally ate and judged the food. Originally, the judges' "cogitations" took place off-camera, though later on, edited highlights of the discussions were added between the tasting and the announcement of the winner.

In 1998, Grossman decided to take a one-series sabbatical. He returned to present the 1999 series, but left the programme in 2000.


In 2001, the series underwent a makeover. It was moved from its traditional Sunday afternoon slot on BBC One to a new weeknight slot on BBC Two. The "celebrity" judge was dropped and chef Gary Rhodes took over as presenter. This new version of the series asked contestants to cook two courses in just 90 minutes. It lasted just one series and was much criticised – notably by former host Grossman.

Revived series[edit]

In 2005, executive producers Franc Roddam and John Silver, along with series producer Karen Ross radically overhauled the format, and a new series was introduced, initially under the name MasterChef Goes Large. The name reverted to MasterChef in 2008.[8]

In the new version, there are two permanent judges, John Torode and Gregg Wallace, though neither addresses the viewer directly; instead narrative information is conveyed in a voiceover by India Fisher.

The show proved very popular and became one of BBC Two's more successful early-evening programmes, leading to an announcement by the BBC in 2009 that it would be moved back to BBC One.[9]


Judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace at MasterChef Live, London, 2009

In the new format, each series airs five nights a week for eight weeks, consisting of six weeks of heats and quarter-finals, with six contestants emerging to compete against one another over the final two weeks to select a winner.

In each of the first six weeks, there are four heats and a quarter-final. Six contestants enter each heat, with one quarter-finalist emerging from each of the four heats. These four quarter-finalists compete for a semi-final place, so that over the first six weeks, six semi-finalists emerge.

In 2010, the judges were given more flexibility, allowing them to promote more than one contestant to the quarter-finals, or, in one instance, none at all. Series 7 of MasterChef featured 'talent show-type' audition shows (similar to The X Factor) in which hopeful chefs cooked in front of the judges to secure a place in the competition. More than 20,000 people applied to audition for the series.[10]


The heats follow a three-round format:

  • The Calling Card: the contestants must invent a dish from scratch in 75 minutes (40 minutes up until 2009). The contestants can choose from any ingredients they like.
  • The Invention Test: the contestants are given two boxes, one with sweet items, another with savoury. They must pick a box and make a dish out of the ingredients within 75 minutes.
  • The Impression Test: the contestants must cook a two course meal in 75 minutes for past winners and finalists of MasterChef. 1 hour to serve the main course, and a further fifteen minutes after that to serve dessert.


The quarter-finals follow a different structure with different challenges. Up until 2010, the format was:

  • The Ingredients Test: where the contestants are asked to identify a selection of ingredients or produce.
  • The Passion Test: in which each contestant has one minute to convince the judges of their overwhelming passion for food. Following these two rounds, one contestant is knocked out without having cooked that day.
  • Finally, the remaining three quarter-finalists each produce a three course meal in one hour and twenty minutes.

In 2010, the quarter-final format was changed to:

  • The Choice Test: where the contestants are given 15 minutes to cook their choice of either a pre-selected fish recipe or a meat recipe with the judges looking on. At least one contestant is eliminated after this test.
  • This is followed by the remaining quarter-finalists producing a two course meal in an hour.

Now, the quarter final format is:

  • The Palate Test: Torode cooks a dish for the contestants, and they must identify the ingredients and try to recreate the dish using the ingredients given.
  • The Choice Test: the chefs have 80 minutes to create a showstopping dish for the Judges and a special celebrity food critic

Comeback Week[edit]

The sixth week was called "Comeback Week" and featured contestants from the previous series of MasterChef, who did not advance past the heats or quarter-finals. The format was different for this week:

  • The Skill Test: where the contestants have 25 minutes to cook one of two pre-selected recipes. Some contestants may be eliminated after this test.
  • The Palate Test: where Torode cooks a complex dish and asks the contestants one by one to eat the dish, listing as many ingredients in the dish as possible. Some contestants may be eliminated after this test.
  • The Pressure Test: where the remaining contestants work a lunchtime shift at a busy restaurant under the supervision of a professional chef who comments on their performance.
  • The remaining contestants then have 60 minutes to cook a two course meal. One contestant is selected to advance to a quarter-final.
  • The comeback quarter-finalists then cook head-to-head in a larger version of the invention test, cooking one dish in an hour. One contestant is selected to advance to the semi-finals.

MasterChef Live[edit]

MasterChef Live is an extension of the television programme. The event runs annually in November and is held over three days since 2009; it is hosted at London Olympia, co-located with the annual Wine Show.

Highlights of the event include live cookery demonstrations in the Chefs’ Theatre, celebrity chefs, former contestants, critics, and MasterChef style cook-offs.

Celebrity MasterChef[edit]

Celebrity MasterChef was devised as a celebrity version of MasterChef Goes Large. The show was screened on BBC One from 2006 to 2011; originally, a total of 24 celebrities took part in each series with three contestants per episode following the full MasterChef Goes Large test.[11]

In 2011, the programme was moved to a daily daytime slot with 30 episodes screened over 6 weeks and featuring only 16 celebrities.[12] Catch-up shows were also aired on Fridays at 20:30 (30 minutes) and on Saturdays at various times (60 minutes). In 2012, the show moved to BBC Two due to low ratings and returned to an evening 18:30 slot. In 2013, it moved back to BBC One primetime, airing at 20:00. Since 2014, the show has featured 20 celebrities competing for the title.


There was also a week of Comeback contestants featuring Joe McGann, Marie Helvin, Linda Barker, Claire Richards, Rowland Rivron, Ninia Benjamin, Steven Pinder, Wendi Peters, Helen Lederer, Tony Hadley, Martin Hancock and Jeff Green.

MasterChef: The Professionals[edit]

MasterChef: The Professionals, a version for professional chefs, was introduced in 2008.

Junior MasterChef[edit]

Junior MasterChef originally ran from 1994 to 1999 for under-16s. It was revived in 2010 with an age range of nine to twelve. A second series of the revived format ran in 2012, with a third following in 2014.


MasterChef (original series)[edit]

Year Winner
1990 Joan Bunting
1991 Sue Longden
1992 Vanessa Binns
1993 Derek Johns
1994 Gerry Goldwyre
1995 Marion Macfarlane
1996 Neil Haidar
1997 Shane Bradford
1999 Lloyd Burgess
2000 Marjorie Lang
2001 Rosa Baden-Powell

Note: The original MasterChef series did not air in 1998.

MasterChef Goes Large (revived series)[edit]

Year Winner
2005 Thomasina Miers
2006 Peter Bayless
2007 Steven Wallis


The show's original name returned from series 4 in 2008.

Year Winner
2008 James Nathan
2009 Mat Follas[22]
2010 Dhruv Baker
2011 Tim Anderson
2012 Shelina Permalloo
2013 Natalie Coleman
2014 Ping Coombes
2015 Simon Wood
2016 Jane Devonshire
2017 Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed

Celebrity MasterChef[edit]

Year Winner
2006 Matt Dawson
2007 Nadia Sawalha
2008 Liz McClarnon
2009 Jayne Middlemiss
2010 Lisa Faulkner
2011 Phil Vickery
2012 Emma Kennedy
2013 Ade Edmondson
2014 Sophie Thompson
2015 Kimberly Wyatt
2016 Alexis Conran
2017 Angellica Bell

Charity specials[edit]

Year Show Winner
2008 Children in Need Junior MasterChef Alexander (Billy) Wyatt
2010 Sport Relief does MasterChef Alan Hansen
2011 Comic Relief does MasterChef Miranda Hart
2013 Comic Relief does MasterChef Jack Whitehall

Other notable contestants[edit]

Transmission guide[edit]

Original series[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes Hosts
1 2 July 1990 24 September 1990 13 Loyd Grossman
2 21 April 1991 14 July 1991
3 26 April 1992 19 July 1992
4 11 April 1993 4 July 1993
5 10 April 1994 3 July 1994
6 16 April 1995 9 July 1995
7 7 April 1996 30 June 1996
8 27 April 1997 3 August 1997
9 3 January 1999 28 March 1999
10 12 March 2000 4 June 2000
11 3 April 2001 3 July 2001 Gary Rhodes


  • Happy 10th Birthday MasterChef: TX 18 June 2000
  • Tales from the MasterChef Kitchen: Series 1, 10 editions from 2 July 2000 – 3 September 2000
  • Celebrity Special: TX 27 August 2000

Revived series[edit]

MasterChef Goes Large[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 21 February 2005 1 April 2005 29
2 23 January 2006 17 March 2006 40
3 22 January 2007 15 March 2007


The show's original name returned from series 4 in 2008.

Series Start date End date Episodes
4 7 January 2008 28 February 2008 32
5 5 January 2009 26 February 2009
6 18 February 2010 7 April 2010 23
16 February 2011 27 April 2011 15
(inc. audition shows)
8 17 January 2012 15 March 2012 15
9 12 March 2013 2 May 2013 23
10 26 March 2014 16 May 2014 24
11 10 March 2015 24 April 2015
12 23 March 2016 6 May 2016 25
13 29 March 2017 12 May 2017


  • What The Winners Did Next – Special on winners from Series 1 and 2 of MasterChef Goes Large; aired 22 January 2007

Celebrity MasterChef[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 11 September 2006 29 September 2006 15
2 28 May 2007 15 June 2007
3 2 July 2008 25 July 2008 12
4 10 June 2009 10 July 2009 15
5 21 July 2010 20 August 2010
6 12 September 2011 22 October 2011 30 (daily)
13 (highlights)
7 13 August 2012 21 September 2012 30
8 31 July 2013 6 September 2013 18
9 10 June 2014 18 July 2014
10 18 June 2015 24 July 2015 12
11 22 June 2016 29 July 2016
12 16 August 2017 22 September 2017

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "City University MasterChef Kitchen". 
  2. ^ "City University MasterChef Kitchen". 
  3. ^ "What Now For Putney's Tom Whitaker?". 23 May 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  4. ^ "The old Masterchef studio entrance is being demolished". Ram Brewery on Twitter. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  5. ^ "Filming Location". 
  6. ^ Ellis, Walter (30 July 2000). "Has 'Masterchef' had its frites?". The Independent. London. 
  7. ^ "CBBC gets children cooking as Junior MasterChef is announced". 24 August 2009. 
  8. ^ "Two Programmes – MasterChef – Previous episodes". BBC. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  9. ^ "Press Office – MasterChef rustles up move to BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  10. ^ BBC (18 February 2011). "MasterChef revamp 'has turned cooking show into The X Factor'". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  11. ^ "Food – TV and radio – Celebrity MasterChef biographies". BBC. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  12. ^ Heritage, Stuart (13 September 2011). "MasterChef goes daytime | Television & radio |". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  13. ^ "Celebrity MasterChef dishes up 2011 winner". BBC. 23 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  14. ^ "Celebrity MasterChef – BBC One". Plank PR. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  15. ^ "Celebrity MasterChef names winner". BBC. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  16. ^ "Celebrity Masterchef switch: Show set to move back to evening slot on BBC2". Mirror. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  17. ^ "Celebrity MasterChef returns to prime time BBC One with all-star line-up". BBC Media Centre. 24 June 2013. 
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ [3]
  21. ^ [4]
  22. ^ "Mat wins MasterChef 2009 title". 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 

External links[edit]