MasterChef (British TV series)

MasterChef is a competitive cooking show produced by Endemol Shine UK and Banijay and broadcast in 60 countries around the world. In the UK, it is produced by the BBC. The show initially ran from 1990 to 2001 and was revived in 2005 as MasterChef Goes Large. The revival featured a new format devised by Franc Roddam and John Silver, with Karen Ross producing. In 2008, the name was changed back to MasterChef but the format remained unchanged.

Also known asMasterChef Goes Large (2005–2007)
Created byFranc Roddam
Presented byOriginal
Loyd Grossman (Series 1–10)
Gary Rhodes (Series 11)
Gregg Wallace
John Torode
Narrated byIndia Fisher (2005–present)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of seriesMasterChef
17 (revived)
Celebrity MasterChef
15 (aired to date)
No. of episodesMasterChef
146 (original, inc. specials)
278 (revival, at the end of series 10)
Celebrity MasterChef
211 (end of series 10)
Executive producerFranc Roddam
ProducersKaren Ross
David Ambler
Production locationsOriginal
The Maidstone Studios
City University's Bastwick Street Halls of Residence (2005–2011)[1][2]
Ram Brewery (2011–2014)[3][4]
3 Mills Studios (2014–present)[5]
Running time30–90 minutes
Production companiesUnion Pictures[6](1990–2000)
Union/West 175 (2001)
Shine TV and Ziji Productions (2005–present)
Original networkBBC One (1990–2000, 2009–present and Celebrity MasterChef 2006–2011, 2013–present)
BBC Two (2001, 2005–2008 and Celebrity MasterChef 2012)
Picture format576i 4:3 (1990–1997)
576i 16:9 (1999–2010)
1080i 16:9 (2011 onwards)
Original releaseOriginal series:
2 July 1990 (1990-07-02) – 3 July 2001 (2001-07-03)
Revived series:
21 February 2005 (2005-02-21) – present
Related shows
External links
Production website

The series currently appears in four versions: the main MasterChef series; Celebrity MasterChef; MasterChef: The Professionals, with working chefs; and Junior MasterChef, with children between the ages of nine and twelve.[7] The format and style of the show have been reproduced around the world in various international versions.

Original series

In the original series, amateur cooks competed for the title of Master Chef. The show featured nine rounds leading up to three semifinals and a final. In each round, three contestants were tasked with preparing a gourmet three-course meal in under two hours. The contestants could choose the meal, although there was a price limit on ingredients. "Everyday" ingredients and equipment were provided, and contestants could also bring up to five "speciality" ingredients or utensils.

The first incarnation of the series was presented by Loyd Grossman, who was joined each week by a professional chef and a celebrity to act as judges. In each episode, Grossman and the guest judges discussed the menus, talked to the contestants, and finally ate and judged the food. The judges' "cogitations" originally took place off-camera, but later episodes included edited highlights of the discussions after the food had been tasted and before the winner was announced.

In 1998, Grossman decided to take a sabbatical and the series was not made in his absence.[citation needed] He returned to present the 1999 series but left the show in 2000.

Grossman's departure and 2001 revamp

In 2001, the show underwent a makeover in response to declining ratings. It was moved from its traditional Sunday afternoon slot on BBC One to a Tuesday night slot on BBC Two and the format of the show was modified. The celebrity judge was no longer included and the contestants had to cook two courses in 90 minutes, which was extended to two-and-a-half hours for three courses in the final episode. As an additional requirement, each contestant had to use the same key ingredient in each course.[8]

In October 2000, Grossman left in anger over the proposed changes and was replaced by chef Gary Rhodes, who had previously presented MasterChef USA.[9] Rhodes' advice to contestants was more critical than Grossman's and the show was acclaimed for its more serious tone, which later inspired the MasterChef Goes Large format and other cooking competitions like Hell's Kitchen.[10] However, the new version of the show did not revive ratings as hoped and was cancelled by the BBC after the first series.

Revived series

In 2005, the executive producers Franc Roddam and John Silver, with the series producer Karen Ross, radically overhauled the show's format and introduced a new series. It was initially titled MasterChef Goes Large, but the name reverted to MasterChef in 2008.[11] The new series is judged by John Torode and Gregg Wallace, with voice-over narration provided 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 promoted to BBC One.[12]


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

Each series is broadcast on five nights a week for eight weeks. During the first six weeks, the first four episodes of each week are heats and the fifth episode is a quarter-final. Six contestants enter each heat and the winner becomes a quarter-finalist. At the end of each week, the four quarter-finalists compete and a semi-finalist is chosen. After six weeks, the six semi-finalists compete in the final two weeks.

In 2010, the judges were given more flexibility, allowing them to advance more than one contestant to the quarter-finals or, in one instance, none at all. Series 7 of Master Chef had auditions with a format similar to The X Factor, in which hopeful chefs cooked in front of the judges to secure a spot in the competition. More than 20,000 people applied to audition for the series.[13]


The heats follow a three-round format:

  • The Market Test: the contestants must invent a dish using ingredients from the show's market. They have 15 minutes to select ingredients and 1 hour and 10 minutes to cook the meal. Three contestants are eliminated from the competition and those remaining advance to the Impression Test.
  • The Calling Card: the contestants must invent a dish from scratch in 75 minutes (originally 40 minutes until 2009). The contestants can choose any ingredients they like.
  • The Invention Test: the contestants are given two boxes: one with sweet items and the other with savoury items. They must pick a box and make a dish using its 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. They are given one hour to serve the main course and 15 minutes afterwards to serve dessert. This segment was first featured in 2017.

The format of the quarter-finals has changed over the years. Before 2010, the format featured three rounds:

  • The Ingredients Test: the contestants were asked to identify a selection of ingredients or produce.
  • The Passion Test: the contestants each had one minute to convince the judges of their overwhelming passion for food.
  • After eliminating one contestant, the remaining three quarter-finalists each produced a three-course meal in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

In 2010, the quarter-final format was cut to two rounds:

  • The Choice Test: the contestants were given 15 minutes to cook their choice of either a pre-selected fish recipe or meat recipe with the judges supervising. At least one contestant was eliminated after this round.
  • The remaining quarter-finalists each produced a two-course meal in one hour.

The current quarter-final format consists of two rounds:

  • The Palate Test: Judge John Torode cooks a dish for the contestants, and they must identify the ingredients and try to recreate the dish using the ingredients available to them.
  • The Choice Test: the contestants have 80 minutes to create a showstopping dish for the judges and a special celebrity food critic.
Comeback Week

The sixth week is called "Comeback Week" and features contestants from previous series of MasterChef who did not advance past the heats or quarter-finals. The format changes for this special week. It includes:

  • The Skill Test: the contestants have 25 minutes to cook one of two pre-selected recipes. Some contestants may be eliminated after this round.
  • The Palate Test: Torode cooks a complex dish and asks the contestants one by one to taste the dish and identify its ingredients. Some contestants may be eliminated after this round.
  • The Pressure Test: the contestants work a lunchtime shift at a busy restaurant under the supervision of a professional chef who comments on their performance.
  • The remaining contestants have one hour to cook a two-course meal. One contestant is selected to advance to the 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

MasterChef Live is an extension of the television programme. It has been held each November since 2009 and the event lasts three days. It is hosted at London Olympia and is co-located with the annual Wine Show. Highlights of the event include live cooking demonstrations in the Chefs' Theater, celebrity chefs, former contestants, critics and MasterChef-style cook-offs.

Celebrity MasterChef

Celebrity MasterChef was devised as a celebrity version of MasterChef Goes Large. The show was screened on BBC One from 2006 to 2011. Originally, 24 celebrities participated in each series with three contestants per episode following the full MasterChef Goes Large test.[14]

In 2011, the programme was moved to a daily daytime slot with 30 episodes screened over six weeks and with only 16 celebrities.[15] Catch-up shows were broadcast 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 prime time, shown at 20:00. Since 2014, the show has had 20 celebrities competing for the title.


The winner from each year is in bold text.

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.[citation needed]

MasterChef: The Professionals

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

Junior MasterChef

Junior MasterChef originally ran from 1994 to 1999 for contestants under 16 years old. It was revived in 2010 with contestants between nine and twelve years old. A second series of the revived format ran in 2012 and a third series followed in 2014.


MasterChef was involved in a controversy during the 13th episode of its 14th series when Wallace and Torode criticised a rendang dish made by the Malaysian-born contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin for its poor quality. Zaleha had been given a task to make a chicken dish in thirty minutes and chose to attempt rendang, which normally takes several hours to prepare. The judges deemed the dish inedible because the chicken skin was rubbery and undercooked and advised her that with a thirty minute task she should have made a crispy fried chicken with a sauce. Many commentators, particularly from Malaysia and Indonesia, pointed out that rendang is usually cooked as a stew and is not intended to be crispy,[30] and that both judges had failed to differentiate between "crispy" and "under-cooked".

Najib Razak, the Malaysian Prime Minister at the time, joined the conversation with a subtle tweet denouncing the judges' opinion.[31] The former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed also joined in, suggesting that the judges were confusing rendang with KFC.[32]


MasterChef (original series)

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

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

MasterChef Goes Large and MasterChef (revived series)

MasterChef Goes Large
Year Winner
2005 Thomasina Miers
2006 Peter Bayless
2007 Steven Wallis

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

Year Winner
2008 James Nathan
2009 Mat Follas
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
2018 Kenny Tutt
2019 Irini Tzortzoglou
2020 Thomas Frake
2021 Tom Rhodes

Celebrity MasterChef

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
2018 John Partridge
2019 Greg Rutherford
2020 Riyadh Khalaf
2021 TBA

Charity specials

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

Year Contestant
1993 Ross Burden
2008 Emily Ludolf
2019 Jilly McCord

Transmission guide

Original series

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

MasterChef Goes Large
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 in 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
7 16 February 2011 27 April 2011 15
8 17 January 2012 15 March 2012
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
14 26 February 2018 13 April 2018
15 11 February 2019 29 March 2019 24
16 24 February 2020 17 April 2020
17 1 March 2021 14 April 2021[33][1] 18


  • What The Winners Did Next – featured winners from series 1 and 2 of MasterChef Goes Large, broadcast on 22 January 2007
1.^ The final was pulled from its 9 April 2021 air date due to the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Celebrity MasterChef
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
13 23 August 2018 28 September 2018
14 2 September 2019 11 October 2019 18
15 1 July 2020 30 July 2020 15
16 2021 2021 TBA
  • A Recipe for Success – Six-part series looking back over 15 years of Celebrity MasterChef, first episode broadcast on 6 August 2020.
  • Christmas Cook-off - 2 episodes, where past contestants competed to hold the title of Christmas champion; first episode broadcast on 21 December 2020, second episode broadcast on 23 December 2020.


  • Masterchef: 1990. London: Ebury Press. 13 December 1990. ISBN 978-0563361077.
  • Masterchef: 1991. London: Ebury Press. 15 July 1991. ISBN 978-0091752156.
  • Masterchef: 1992. London: Vermilion. 20 July 1992. ISBN 978-0091773762.
  • Masterchef: 1993. London: Vermilion. 12 July 1993. ISBN 978-0091777654.
  • The Best of Masterchef Since 1990. London: Ebury Press. 21 October 1993. ISBN 978-0091777838.
  • Masterchef: 1994. London: Vermilion. 4 July 1994. ISBN 978-0091786861.
  • Junior Masterchef 1994. London: Vermilion. 14 November 1994. ISBN 978-0091786915.
  • Masterchef: 1995. London: Vermilion. 10 July 1995. ISBN 978-0091806835.
  • Junior Masterchef 1995. London: Vermilion. 23 October 1995. ISBN 978-0091806682.
  • Masterchef: 1996. London: Ebury Press. 25 April 1996. ISBN 978-0091814625.
  • The Best of Masterchef. London: Ebury Press. 2 January 1997. ISBN 978-0091853068.
  • Masterchef: 1997. London: Ebury Press. 3 April 1997. ISBN 978-0091853051.
  • Junior Masterchef 1998. London: Ebury Press. 5 March 1998. ISBN 978-0091853228.
  • Masterchef: Best of British Cooking. London: Ebury Press. 7 January 1999. ISBN 978-0091868444.

See also


  1. "Masterchef Goes Large - UKGameshows".
  2. "City University MasterChef Kitchen". 29 April 2016.
  3. "What Now For Putney's Tom Whitaker?". 23 May 2011. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  4. "The old Masterchef studio entrance is being demolished". Ram Brewery on Twitter. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2016.[non-primary source needed]
  5. "Sound Stage & Self Contained Studio, Stage 15 - 3Mills Studios". 3Mills.
  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. "Masterchef". UK Gameshows. Archived from the original on 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  9. "Grossman quits Masterchef". BBC News Online. 17 October 2000. Archived from the original on 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  10. Symington, Nicki (7 July 2001). "The repast master - Telegraph". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
    - Rayner, Jay (8 September 2002). "Between courses..." The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  11. "Two Programmes – MasterChef – Previous episodes". BBC. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  12. "Press Office – MasterChef rustles up move to BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  13. "MasterChef revamp 'has turned cooking show into The X Factor'". The Telegraph. London: BBC. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  14. "Food – TV and radio – Celebrity MasterChef biographies". BBC. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  15. Heritage, Stuart (13 September 2011). "MasterChef goes daytime". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  16. "Celebrity MasterChef dishes up 2011 winner". BBC. 23 September 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  17. "Celebrity MasterChef – BBC One". Plank PR. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  18. "Celebrity MasterChef names winner". BBC. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  19. "Celebrity Masterchef switch: Show set to move back to evening slot on BBC2". Mirror. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  20. "Celebrity MasterChef returns to prime time BBC One with all-star line-up". BBC Media Centre. 24 June 2013.
  21. "Celebrity MasterChef lineup revealed". Digital Spy. 23 May 2014.
  22. "Celeb MasterChef has an amazing lineup". Digital Spy. 13 May 2015.
  23. "Celebrity MasterChef is back TONIGHT: Meet the stars". Digital Spy. 22 June 2016.
  24. "BBC - BBC One's Celebrity Masterchef serves up series 12". BBC.
  25. "BBC - Celebrity MasterChef fires up the ovens for another hot summer".
  26. "BBC - Celebrity MasterChef spices up the kitchen for its 14th series". BBC.
  27. Davies, Megan (30 July 2020). "Celebrity MasterChef's Gethin Jones explains why he had to leave the competition early". Digital Spy.
  28. "Meet the contestants on Celebrity MasterChef 2020". Radio Times.
  29. "Meet the contestants on Celebrity MasterChef 2021". Radio Times.
  30. France-Presse, Agence (3 April 2018). "'I would rendang his head': UK MasterChef judges stir up a storm". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  31. Horton, Helena (3 April 2018). "Malaysian Prime Minister criticises MasterChef judges in rendang row over 'iconic national dish'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  32. "Maybe you're confusing rendang with KFC, Dr M tells 'MasterChef UK' judge". The Malay Mail. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018.