How much Gordon Ramsay is enough? That question was well and truly answered this week. This much.

Determined to ensure that Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef, is a 12-month wonder, Channel 9 has been spruiking him relentlessly, aided by a little Senate inquiry and the rest of the media. With the halo slipping on his ratings, Crikey’s Glenn Dyer predicts he’s the next Super Nanny.

Ramsay for his part is not shying away from the feeding frenzy. During his recent 4-day tour of Australia, he hunted for locations for an Australian restaurant, promoted his latest book, headlined the Sydney Good Food And Wine Show and helped launch the BBC Australian Good Food magazine — all of it covered by a willing media-throng just waiting for him to drop the f-bomb.

An interview with Andrew Denton for Enough Rope set to air in July was one of his final commitments before jetting off. Obviously the show got over its concern that Ramsay was over-exposed.

“I got all this sh-t from Andrew Denton,” Ramsay told The Australian‘s David Meagher ahead of his visit. 

“He said, ‘Look, if you go on 60 Minutes you can’t come on the show.’ I said, ‘I don’t give a f-ck. I’m not from Australia, I’m coming down there and if you think I’m going to beat around the bush because I’ve got to tread carefully to get on the show, mate, I don’t give two sh-ts, trust me.'”

Media Monitors assembled a comparison of media mentions for the dictator of the kitchen — and the dictator of Zimbabwe — for the seven-day period to Tuesday. Ramsay had almost as many mentions as Robert Mugabe, and, unsurprisingly, double that of the Zimbabwe leader on TV.

Ramsay had barely left the country when  Seven let the world know it had a decade-old Gordo series up its sleeve. Five half-hour episodes of  Boiling Point that it will put on at 10pm. The press release read: “[Ramsay’s] rugged good looks and straight shooting style have made ladies swoon and men jealous.” Take that Nine. Kapow.

A Nine spokesman bitched back — via Sydney  Confidential“Seven has had to comb the Granada (Productions) vault to find something with Ramsay’s name on it. This from the same mob who relinquished its licence on Kitchen Nightmares at the end of 2006.”

A tad rich given the network had no idea it had a hit on its hands until the audience let it know. Last year, before Nine realised Ramsay was the goose laying the golden eggs (and poaching them himself), it replaced Hell’s Kitchen with Comedy Inc. And at the start of this year, it was putting all its eggs in Canal Road ‘s basket.

How times change. The Ramsay phenomenon has since boiled over … but it’s cooling. Dyer explains:

Ramsay’s ratings started slowly at 9.30pm late last year. It wasn’t until Nine switched Kitchen Nightmares to 8.30pm, and then followed it with Hell’s Kitchen, that the swearing controversy erupted and the ratings improved to peak at over 1.7 million. But they soon faded as viewers tired of the formula-driven approach.

Kitchen Nightmares finished with just over 1 million viewers on Tuesday nights (and returns in August with 14 eps). Hell’s Kitchen will also finish with just over a million viewers on Thursday nights, 40% of them in Melbourne, as was the case with Nightmares.

What we want to know is what life will look like AG — After Gordon. Presumably the networks are planning for that.

Still, while it lasts, everyone’s getting their money’s worth.

Even the Institute of Public Affairs Review has Ramsay on their front cover this month, ostensibly to bag him. But as we here at Crikey know only too well, if you want to write a story about Britney Spears, find an erudite angle.

For IPA, the way in was the chef’s “hypocritical” assault on out-of-season food and its implied “demonization of modern farming practices”.

Ramsay is more of a bookender to the article than its entire subject, but hey, that was enough for a nice magazine-selling pic.

As ever, it was fun to watch just how different papers would channel the Ramsay story through their own sensibilities. Here are some takes:

  1. Gordon loves us.

    Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay says his ultimate dream is to open a small restaurant in the South Island. — New Zealand Herald

    World-Renowned chef Gordon Ramsay makes a lot of sense in giving the reasons why he will open a restaurant in Melbourne rather than Sydney. —  Herald Sun editorial

  2. We love Gordon.

    I am 14 years Gordon Ramsay’s junior, but if he puckered up to plant one on me, I wouldn’t say no. Now Ramsay might not be the most attractive man around but he’s rough, ready and straight-shooting. He pulls no punches and can admit when he’s wrong. The 42-year-old is a bad boy with a rock star persona and an insatiable drive to succeed. To witness that drive is s-xy — and Ramsay showcases it in spades. — Erin McWhirter, The Daily Telegraph

  3. Australians are silly (and hypocritical).

    The row came a year after authorities in Britain banned an Australian tourism campaign as offensive for featuring a bikini-clad model who asked “where the bloody hell are you?” — The Daily Mail

  4. Australians are silly hicks (but maybe they’re onto something).

    Much of the nation thought the funniest story of last week was that of the Australian politician who complained about the obscenities in Gordon Ramsay’s television programmes. This was, first, because Australians are themselves thought incapable of using a six-letter word where a four-letter one will do. Second, his remarks were so unstreetwise.

    Did this silly hick not know that Ramsay is as well-known for his undeleted expletives as for his cooking? Was he oblivious of the fact that, in any movie or television show these days, people say “f-ck” a good deal more often than “please” and “thank you”? There was a telling line in the BBC’s account of the Aussie story. Its reporter asserted that Ramsay’s language is “famous”. Not “notorious”, mark you, but “famous”. Here was a vivid testimonial to a society no longer capable of distinguishing between celebrity and notoriety.

    Here, of course, I show my own hand. I believe that the Australian who denounced the on-screen obscenities was right… — Max Hastings, The Guardian

  5. Australians are weird.

    The show is also playing a role in a larger debate about whether Australia has succumbed to a “culture of crudeness,” as the Queen’s representative characterized it in a Reuters article. A non-Ramsay example of the trend came from parliament rather than a kitchen: a politician apparently told a rival that “your child will turn into a demon.” Another investigation followed. — The Lede, New York Times

Anyway, to this week’s Wankley Award.

Let’s give it to Crikey — for writing a story about Ramsay just so we could run this footage from Today show again. Watch for Karl’s embarrassment, Lisa’s flirting and Gordon’s abs (not to mention a “6am rise” joke).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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