Chef Gordon Ramsay meets a ‘Kiwi megacelebrity’ in what deserves to be remembered as one of the all-time great Holmes interviews.
When we think back on the television broadcasting career of Sir Paul Holmes, there are two notorious interviews that most often come to mind. The first was during the very first episode of Holmes in 1989, when ambushed America’s Cup yachtsman Dennis Conner stormed out of the studio. The second, a surreal encounter with near-mute teenage stowaways the Ingham twins, happened on the rooftop of the TVNZ building during the 1997 Holmes Christmas special.
But don’t these kinds of things usually come in threes? There must be another iconic Holmes interview, one that deserves to be remembered alongside Dennis Conner and the Ingham twins – but what was it? The answer may lie in a YouTube clip evocatively titled ‘Gordon Ramsay gives Paul Holmes a bollocking’.
The meeting of Britain’s most irritable TV chef and New Zealand’s most irritating TV host took place in 2000, when Ramsay was in Australia and New Zealand promoting his book A Chef For All Seasons. The sweary chef had become a global celebrity following his 1998 docu-series Boiling Point; this tour was being filmed for the follow-up, Beyond Boiling Point. This is the provenance of ‘Gordon Ramsay gives Paul Holmes a bollocking’.
“I’m just gonna need one idiot to start getting on the wrong side of it and I’m gonna snap,” Ramsay promises at the start of the episode. After the title sequence, in which he staggers through a nightmarish smoke-filled maze of cardboard cutouts of himself while voices whisper “Gordon, Gordon, Gordon,” he spends the Australian leg of the tour making good on that promise, mouthing off in the papers and feuding with prominent food critic Cherry Ripe.
He arrives in Auckland tired and fed up with an hour until his first appointment: filming a segment for “New Zealand’s premier chat show”. Things get off to a promising start, with the show’s host (a “Kiwi megacelebrity” according to the voiceover) helping Ramsay apply his make-up and making small talk about the rugby. Ramsay congratulates Holmes on the All Blacks win, but says their next game will be tougher. “Well you’re a Pom, what would you fuckin know,” says Holmes.
After filming, Holmes helps hold flat Ramsay’s chef’s whites so he can autograph them. “Bastards to sign aren’t they, cloth,” Holmes muses. “I tell kids to fuck off now if they come up to me with a t-shirt.” This is consistent with another classic Holmes moment from around the same time, when the presenter growled at a group of children for waving in the background of a live cross, telling them “it’s very annoying for the people at home.”
“He is the highest rating current affairs host in New Zealand, so he’s New Zealand’s equivalent to Terry Wogan basically,” a TVNZ publicist tells her indifferent guest. “He looks a bit like Ronnie Corbett,” replies Ramsay’s assistant Hector. In hindsight, he was probably more like New Zealand’s David Brent.
“He’s a tool. Fucking spanner,” is how Ramsay describes him. He has reached the promised boiling point. The rest of his time in New Zealand is seemingly spent telling anyone who’ll listen – Susan Wood on Today Live, Alice Worsley on Good Morning, Mike Hosking and Ali Mau on Breakfast – how much he hates Paul Holmes.
“Are you brassed off with me?” the host asks when the pair cross paths in the TVNZ corridor the next day. “I’m not pissed off with you, I’m pissed off with the person who edited that programme,” says the chef. “What happened?” asks Holmes. “I haven’t seen it yet,” admits Ramsay.
Probably nobody has seen it since the day it went to air, but that shouldn’t stop it from taking its rightful place alongside Dennis Conner and the Ingham Twins as the third classic Holmes interview. If not for the long-lost segment itself, then certainly for the majestic YouTube clip ‘Gordon Ramsay gives Paul Holmes a bollocking’.
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