“Delicious: Series One & Two”
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.
This is an excellent example of using resources and talent to create really good 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 definitely worth owning, it can be rewatch and that is down to the narrative as well as the cast which is top notch.
Episode One: Leo Vincent is a successful chef, who has stolen most of his recipes from ex-wife Gina Benelli, whom he cuckolded for years with second spouse Sam. Now Sam is convinced he is having an affair and he is – with Gina. Gina has another problem with rebellious daughter Teresa, who is allergic to water, but things come to a head at a party for Sam and Leo’s son Michael’s eighteenth birthday party, when Sam learns the truth and reacts angrily.
Episode Two: As friends and family gather for the funeral, emotions run high and one or two relationships take a new turn. The will also reveals a few surprises.
Episode Three: Gina returns to the Penrose and reminisces about her relationship with Leo. Later, Gina has a run-in with Rosa and throws her wedding plans into turmoil.
Episdoe Four: A suspicious Sam gets Michael to confess his affair with Teresa, whom she blames and attacks in the street. Teresa is saved by the intervention of James Harley, Teresa’s less than welcome visitor, who publicly admits that he is Teresa’s father, leading to her attempting suicide. Whilst unconscious she dreams about meeting Leo in the after life – which seems to give her the strength to recover.
Episode One: The Penrose is thriving with new staff member Adam Hesketh joining Gina and Sam but at a personal level things are not running so smoothly. Teresa is in therapy when she starts to become aware of her father’s shade and Sam embarks on n unfortunate relationship with a prospective bridegroom whose wedding will be held at the Penrose. Gina meanwhile gets as unannounced visit from her estranged father Joe and is not pleased to see him.
Episode Two: To Gina’s annoyance Sam, after an argument, allows Joe to stay and moves into a cottage in the hotel grounds with Mimi, who is very much cheered by Joe’s presence. Michael returns from Europe and, hearing from Teresa that her therapist tried to kiss her, takes action. Teresa is still seeing Leo’s ghost and, despite Gina’s best efforts to keep them apart, meets Joe, At Sam’s fortieth birthday party Gina explains to her why she dislikes Joe so much and the women reconcile. Sam also meets her first love Marc and Gina gets a marriage proposal from old flame James.
Episode Three: The anniversary of Leo’s death approaches and tensions are frayed all around the hotel. Police are putting on the pressure in their bid to take down Gina and Sam, and a familiar face makes a startling announcement which changes the family dynamic forever.
Episode Four: Gina introduces Adam as Leo’s son, provoking hostility from Michael and Sam whilst James marries Gina at a lavish feast, suggesting he buy out Sam’s share of the hotel when she leaves. However Gina’s memories of Leo make her doubt her future with him and she casts him off. Teresa and Michael go off together but Sam decides to stay and run the Penrose with Gina. They are both unaware that the rest of the hidden money has been found by the authorities.
Episode One: Gina and Sam have just about managed to find a way to work together. But a new man is about to stir things up – in the shape of rich investor Mason Elliott.
Episode Two: Sam and Gina discover that Mason is up to something that threatens all that they have worked for. Teresa comes clean to the family.
Episode Three: Sam and Gina come to blows over the best way to help Mimi, but when it comes to dealing with Mason they agree there is only one course of action – revenge.
Episode Four: Teresa comes clean to Sam, a bewildered Gina struggles with her feelings for Mason and as the family pulls together for Mimi, tragedy strikes elsewhere. Last in the series.