Time to let the celebrity cooking battles begin!

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Tuesday: Cooking with the Stars; (ITV, 9pm)

In December last year, affable comedian Bill Bailey became a national treasure and put the biggest smile on our faces when he won the 2020 season of the Beeb’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The twinkle-toed victory came at a time when the country was desperately in need of some visual comfort food, what with the Covid lockdown and lots of depressing news about case numbers and infection rates.

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Strictly is one of a slew of shows that follow famous faces as they have a go at a multitude of tasks, whether it’s stepping into the Bake Off tent on Channel 4 or, going back a few years (and hoiking the tone), learning to conduct an orchestra for the BBC’s Maestro series.

We like nothing more than watching stars get thrown in at the deep end – because we’re not a cruel bunch – watching them struggle just a little bit, before making it to the other end.

But just when you thought all the marrow had been sucked from pro-celebrity match-ups, ITV has gone and pulled a mouthwatering rabbit out of the hat with this tasty little number.

Cameras will follow eight celebrities, as they are paired with a professional chef who will mentor, teach and take them from being a decent, passionate amateur to being able to cook at restaurant level

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Stepping up to the hotplate are comedian and actor Griff Rhys-Jones, Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge Shirley Ballas, DJ and songwriter Naughty Boy, performer and presenter Denise Van Outen, actress Catherine Tyldesley, McFly’s Harry Judd, comedian and actor Johnny Vegas (we can’t wait to see what he comes up with) and TV presenter AJ Odudu.

Facing them on the other side of the counter top are British chef and TV presenter Rosemary Shrager, food writer and restaurant owner Nisha Katona, culinary expert and regular chef on This Morning, Joseph Denison Carey, renowned chef and business owner Ronnie Murray, chef director Jack Stein, Korean chef and restaurateur Judy Joo, renowned chef and business owner Tristan Welch and Italian chef and restaurateur Francesco Mazzei.

Make no mistake: they will mean business.

Over a series of exciting cooking battles, the celebrities will be trained by their mentor chefs to produce delicious dishes that will be judged by the remaining professionals.

This is where it gets interesting. The bottom two will then have to fight for their place in the competition, creating a dish without any help from their mentor.

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The plate of food emerging from this nail-biting eliminator will be decided by a blind tasting judgement from the professional chefs.

Unaware of whose food they are eating, the greatest supporter could swiftly and unwittingly become the worst critic and vote for their protege to leave the competition

The tension is going to be cranked higher and higher with each passing week as, one by one, the famous faces are whittled down.

But which of them will be left standing and gain skills any food lover worth their salt would love to have?

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