Behind the scenes on Come Dine With Me: Taboo subjects, cold food and rows

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A contestant has revealed what it’s like to go behind the scene of Come Dine With Me.

The Channel 4 programme sees a group of strangers compete for the title of ultimate dinner party host – and the £1000.

When the show producers put out a tweet calling for contestants, Phil Oldershaw found himself getting tagged by lots of people urging him to take part.

He took the plunge and applied – and will be appearing on the show all week from November 8 to 12, Birmingham Live reports.

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Phil, from Birmingham, is a presenter and cookery fan and he has dished the dirt on what really happens when you go on Come Dine with Me.

He said: “I cooked on the Friday so, after five days of filming, I was quite exhausted. I’d arrived back at 1am the night before and I was up at 6am to get my stuff together. But the adrenaline kicks in and I have a passion for cooking, both for friends and online so I had a really fun time.

“I’m in my element in front of the camera, and my background is in entertainment as a host so I find it pretty easy.

“For our show, most of us got on really well but you’ll see on Wednesday’s episode that something does go adrift! There’s a bit of a shocker but I’m not allowed to reveal any more than that!”

What happens behind the scenes at Come Dine With Me:

Taboo subjects

Certain subjects are off limits until the night of a contestant’s dinner party – which was tricky for Phil as he was the last to host his meal.

Phil said: “At the start they’d ask you about yourself and what you’ve achieved and then they’d say don’t talk about those subjects.

“This was because they wanted you to hold back a certain amount of information so you didn’t ruin your own dinner party.

“Because I was on Friday’s show, the last show of the week, I had to be really careful about what I said about myself, it was like I was sitting on my hands all week!”

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Cold food

Capturing multiple angles and footage of the food means that meals are often cold by the time they reach the table.

He said: “During the course of the week, I got to learn some things about the show. Lots of filming takes places so the meals can be pretty cold when they arrive on the table.

“People are asked not to judge on the heat of the food as they have to film it being plated up from so many different angles.

“So I made sure every plate was piping hot before I served my food so the food kept warm for the extra standing time.”

Secret location

The show normally takes place in people’s homes but, due to Covid restrictions, it is currently being shot in a secret location in the East Midlands.

“For some reason I missed the fact it was going to be filmed in a secret location rather than at home,” said Phil.

“This was near Derbyshire so it was almost an hour away from Birmingham. It meant I got picked up in a car each day and often didn’t get home until one or two in the morning.”



Phil having fun on the Come Dine with Me secret location set
Phil having fun on the Come Dine with Me secret location set

Protocols before tucking into dinner

To enable adequate shots of each individual’s reaction to their meals, diners are asked not to eat as soon as their plates are put on the table in front of them.

“I’ve done some TV before so I know that everything takes time but I think some people wonder why you can’t just sit down and eat?

“When the food comes in, you have to look at your food with excited eyes then look at each other, then look at each other’s food, with lots of smiling and interaction. Then you try your food and look at the others eating theirs then you finally get to eat it and have a conversation!

“Some people can find it quite difficult, they say they never expected it to be like this. But that’s just the longevity of filming.

“And it’s a very genuine show – what you see is what you get.”

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It takes hours to put together a 30 minute TV show

A car would collect Phil to take him to the secret filming location and he often wouldn’t return home until the early hours of the following morning. He would also be taken to Moor Hall Hotel near Sutton Coldfield to film his reactions to the food he’d eaten the night before and to the menu that was coming up that night.

“Some people don’t understand the gruelling number of hours of footage you don’t get to see on the screen.

“It takes hours of footage to put together. Between us, we did around 65 hours of filming for five 30 minute shows. It takes a lot to get a simple bit of footage.”

There’s a story behind every menu

Each dish should have a relevance to the host and give them a chance to talk about their life, achievements and experiences.

Phil’s starter reflects his love of travel and was actually a dish he’d never cooked before. His main course made reference to him co-founding Birmingham Pride and his dessert is all about his love of wordplay and how it’s a standing joke in the city’s business community that he likes to make up new words like ‘event-Phil’ and ‘wonder-Phil!’

There’s also a segment where the crew follows Phil around Birmingham and he talks about the celebrities he’s met including Roger Moore, Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Sir Ian McKellen and Michelle Collins.

‘Hanging around’ on set is when the fun really happens

Between shoots, there is inevitably a lot of hanging around for the contestants. But, for Phil, that was when the real fun happened.

“There’s a lot of hanging around too but that’s where you get to enjoy the experience and get on with the other people,” he said.

“I think it’s a shame when people don’t do that, it ruins a great opportunity for them to get on with people you don’t normally spend time with. Most of us embraced that in our group. Off screen, we had a real laugh.”

Some people take it way too seriously

Understandably, the contestants are sworn to secrecy – but Phil has let it slip that there is a big twist coming up!

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“Come Dine With Me is very tongue in cheek but some people take it really seriously!” he said.

“People have rows and all sorts. I think these people don’t really understand the show. It’s just a fun show where you can be a bit cheeky and interact with people you’ve never met before from all different backgrounds, ages and ethnicity.

“There’s a bit of a shocker on our show but I’m not allowed to reveal any more than that!”

The contestants have no idea what narrator Dave Lamb is going to say about them

Phil and his fellow hosts haven’t been given a sneak peak of the show so they’ll be watching for the first time with the rest of the public on November 8.

This could be quite nerve-wracking as Dave Lamb is known for his sarcasm.

“You don’t get to see it before it is aired so I’m really intrigued to see what Dave Lamb says, that’s what gives it that edge,” said Phil.

“I know there are certain bits where he’s likely to take the mick but it’s all tongue-in-cheek and done in fun.

“Sometimes he can be quite cutting but I’ve worked in the gay community for many years and been on the receiving end of many comments so I have quite a thick skin!

“Channel 4 has been really good about personal safety too. They called to check in with me last week and suggested I made my social media private when the show aired. They said when it gets seen by millions on TV, you might get lots of comments. They always make sure you’re well looked after which is brilliant.”

Tune into Come Dine with Me at 5.30pm from November 8 to 12 on Channel 4 see how Phil gets on, or catch-up on 4oD.

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