Created by: Dan Sefton
Featuring: Dawn French, Emilia Fox, Iain Glen, Sheila Hancock
Dawn French: “This is Cornwall – there are no secrets.”
These days cooking and comedy go together so well that it’s easy to forget when shows about cooking were relegated to Saturday and Sunday afternoons with Julia Childs and Hudson and Hall. Of course now they are an industry unto themselves, so it stands to reason that combining a good story, great actresses as well a touch of cookery would be an obvious thing to do. Introducing the dramedy “Delicious” (2017) featuring Dawn French, Emilia Fox and Iain Glen. “Delicious” follows in the footsteps of other similar shows going back to “Shelly” (1979-1992) where there was a dramatic edge with a comedy heart. Of course “Delicious” skews to the more dramatic elements but with a central talent like Dawn French and support from Sheila Hancock this show was always going to have humour, it doesn’t seem to want to take itself to seriously.
Sure there are elements of the soap opera genre that are present right from the outset but for me that’s what made it fun, not to be taken too seriously at all – it also had elements from the HBO show “Six Feet Under” (2001 – 2005) but transferred to the location of a high class restaurant instead of an undertakers business. Interestingly the talents behind the scenes, creator Dan Sefton as well as Directors John Hardwick and Clare Kilner, have all had a breadth of television experience in the UK which is a breeding ground for this kind of show – that can be a positive as well as a negative as it can limit the impact of the show as well as being confined to a formula of a sort. This is not a perfect show but it is very good, and is extremely entertaining.
The series is set in Cornwall, England, where celebrity chef Leo is married to the beautiful Sam and has a successful hotel business. However, he is having an affair with his first wife Gina, a talented cook from whom he stole many of his recipes and cheated on for years. After his death things hot up for all the lives he touched.
For me the real strength of this show is the talent that has been assembled onscreen, with Dawn French and Amelia Fox as the duel antagonists/protagonists, with the awesome Sheila Hancock and Iain Glen in meaty supporting roles that show off talents not seen before in other roles. There is no doubt that Dawn French is the star of the show, having really taken a backseat to writing and producing partner Jennifer Saunders for years, it is great to see French in a role she can sink her teeth into over four episodes – something she has never really done dramatically so this is refreshing for an audience. I do admit I was waiting for the other shoe to drop in terms of her performance, that is move into some kind of character shtick, but this never happens. On the other hand Emilia Fox, best know for her work on “Silent Witness” (1996 – present) is a real revelation as she shows her comic timing, matching French scene for scene, line for line. Then there is the always-reliable Iain Glen who is on another level thanks to his role as Jorah Mormont in “Game of Thrones” (2011 – present). What is nice to see is that he has range, which he has shown before but it is here with other experienced actors that he excels, you can see the glint in his eye – he doesn’t have to hold back or be reserved, he can just let loose, a sight to see for sure. Glen has always been that character actor who could be relied upon to show up and do his job, but for all intents and purposes he is the catalyst for this story, which endures after he is long gone.
As with many television shows produced about ‘real’ people the geographic area they inhabit, work and live in becomes vital and important, but instead of representing isolation “Delicious” uses its locations in very different ways. Set and shot in Cornwall it is a holiday destination for families and has a warm climate which is a great setting for a restaurant as well as fine food which a large aspect of this show relies on.
The other interesting aspect is the show has been written with four episodes in mind, which is great from a storytelling point of view. It has a very definite beginning and ending and of anything it leaves you wanting more – which is a good thing as it means it will have a bit more life in the already announced second season coming next year.
This is a really good first season of a show that could have been mundane in different hands or with different onscreen talent. There is a B story involving the children of the two main characters, which is nice. There are also ‘soap’ and drama tropes that have been overused in the past few years, and are on hand here, i can only hope these might be dispensed with on the second season. I think that this is a real new millennium family drama about people who want to fit in but have issues because of one person’s vanity and bad choices. It is a real affirmation that the women in this show are the real heroes that have to not only come to terms with a real loss but also need to start to forge a future for their respective families. This show is defiantly worth owning, it can be rewatch and that is down to the narrative as well as the cast which is top notch.
“Delicious” is out now on DVD.