Floyd on France

Photograph: BBC
Rating 8.8
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 7 x 30 mins

Way before the invention of Instagram chefs and food porn, before the cool and sardonic Anthony Bourdain became the face of travel food shows, before a floppy-haired Jamie Oliver welcomed us into his kitchen…there was Keith Floyd. You don’t get much more classic than this.

When did telly presenters stop wearing bow ties? After rewatching this, we’re considering starting a campaign to bring them back. But then again, nobody would wear them quite as well as Keith Floyd did. He was the original celebrity chef, known for his bumbling personality and his penchant for a glass of wine which often meant that for much of his shows, he appears slightly sloshed. And with all that booze in his system, we never quite knew what he might come out with next, as he bashfully throws together a dish. It’s no surprise that the telly chefs of today, such as Nigel Slater, Gordan Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, are so influenced by his work.

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He is an absolute joy to watch, and his Floyd on France is regularly counted among the best cooking shows ever, and it has only got better with time. It feels so nostalgic to watch this chaotic and utterly likeable chef pop into a local restaurant, chatting with the chef in charge and taking a wander down to the village’s market before making his way into the kitchen of a nearby inhabitant to throw together this or that dish with whatever he’s found that morning, glass of red in hand the whole while, of course. Like most of the good cooking food shows, this is as much about the people and places as it is the grub, and Floyd has as much enthusiasm for these as he does the bouillabaisse on the stove.

When Keith Floyd died in 2009, The Guardian’s Tom Jaine celebrated his life, calling him “a natural cook of great skill, and a restaurateur and host of effervescent charm.” He continues, “Floyd would address the crew as often as the camera, would get palpably squiffy as programmes wore on, would indulge in any manner of derring-do (from playing rugby with Welshmen to shooting seals and eating puffins) and would be lovably madcap. Yet the cookery content was red-hot, copper-bottomed stuff. Never refined, but still good.” And The New York Times’s William Grimes remembers the chef who he says “revivified the television cooking-show format in the 1980s by injecting his own brand of wit, flamboyance and spontaneity verging on chaos.”

First shown June 1987.

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