The unmistakable voice behind the Come Dine With Me camera - Dave Lamb - tells Gina Schauffer what he really thinks of the cult show that highlights dinner party disasters across the country
Everyone tells me my voice is different from what I do on the programme. It's become more and more camp and ridiculous... I get overexcited now. But if you listen to the earlier episodes, it's really quite flat and 'normal'. They, quite rightly, reined me in early on, because if you go from nought to 60 straight away it's a bit too much! So we've gradually worked our way up. The difference between the early series and now is marked.
I read from a script, but I'm allowed to improvise around the script. So I watch it, and if something occurs to me to say that's not on the script I just say it. And the producer will then either go 'alright we'll keep that' or we go back and do what's meant to be on the page. I watch it [the show] for the first time, I sight read the script and then do it [the voiceover], so I'm reacting as an audience member. I watch it like a viewer, and that's kind of the feel we go for.
Yes, I think that's why, because I never know who's going to win; I kind of discover it as it goes along. I'll either read it [the script] or - because I'm watching and listening as I go along - if I react differently, I'll try something different and the producer will either say 'OK we'll go with that' or 'get back in there and stop swearing' which is normally what happens! There's some real filth on the cutting room floor... It's good fun, and if you can have a laugh doing it, that's part of the job really.
I really warm to people; you really take an instant like or dislike to people as you're doing it. It's a difficult one, because you've got to be aware of what the viewers are going to be thinking and you don't want to go against that, so you don't want to be nasty if no-one's deserved it. Quite often, the producers have spent 5 days with these people and some of them have got really hacked off with some of these guys over the 5 days, so when they come to write the scripts at the end, they're already furious on day 1. So I come into it and go 'why are we so angry with this person, we don't know who they are'! Or sometimes I feel we can go for people when they've been lovely to them.
Not that I've been told of, but I do feel like they might protect me from things like that! The producers might have had to wrestle with some angry contestants on occasion, so they try to keep all that away from me.
[Laughs] No, they don't!
No I'm not, I'm rubbish! My wife is a qualified chef, so I've gone into my shell as a chef since we've been married, because she really won't hold back criticising my food. The first thing I did was cook her a stroganoff - first time we had a date - and she just literally had two mouthfuls and went 'no, er, I don't think so'. So this is very cathartic, watching other people cook nearly as badly as me.
I sometimes phone her for pronunciation of certain foods - not so much now, but in the early series. I mean more often than not the producers cover it - they write it out phonetically across the script, so that there's no confusion.
The disasters always make great TV - but to your knowledge, have there ever been any crazy mishaps e.g. the fire brigade called out?
I don't think that's happened. The one when someone was sick; they had to run from the table to be sick after they had a raw poached egg - that sticks in my mind. That's quite a bad dinner party when your guests actually have to run to the loo, with cameraman following them down the corridor!
But Preston, famously, was the maddest week of television I've ever seen. As the only sane person in the week put it 'you've chosen the four maddest people in Preston and put them in a room together'. And that's exactly what it was like. They were crazy; the one woman Dawn not only ran away from a dinner party the night before - she jumped over the back fence and her husband was waiting for her in the car - but then on her night, she didn't cook. She cooked the starter and then she went 'oh you know what, I'm a bit tired' and went to bed! And they were all left sitting there with a camera crew, and had to cook their own mains!
I think it's been on for about four or five years. I just went for an audition; they'd recorded a pilot and Channel 4 said the voiceover was a bit formal and sensible, so they auditioned people to be a bit more light hearted - without being too over the top. I think if I'd auditioned for it with how I do it now, I wouldn't have got the job. They would've gone 'that's far too big, you can't do it like that'! But they offered it to me and I'm really glad I took it. It's a really watchable format. I often miss my cues doing the voiceover just by watching it. It's so easy to get wrapped up in it.
And they don't like cheating! These tactical markings are the scourge of the reality TV industry...
It's not showing any signs of wearing thin. It's getting better and better.
I think people just seem to be getting more and more bonkers! And that's brilliant. They choose people really well - it's a really good melting pot and it just works so well.
Well we eat very well at home, because my wife's a chef. I actually think we're having mallard at the weekend! [Laughs] I like everything really. But I quite often think on the show 'ooh that looks nice' or 'God, that looks appalling'. I do feel sorry for people who have to eat something they really hate, because there is nothing worse than if you can't abide the taste of something and having to force it down. Interestingly, there are more and more vegetarians coming on the show who are cooking meat, although they're not eating it themselves.
I had a little part in Doc Martin, because I'm an actor too - about four years ago. I'm doing Moving Wallpaper at the moment; I play one of the writers. I was the token white bloke in Goodness Gracious Me, the Asian comedy sketch show, so I played all the white parts - except the most famous one, 'Going for an English'. But I did do that in Wembley Arena, for the Amnesty International gig - which was terrifying. I used to be in a sketch show called The Cheese Shop, we were all doing the Edinburgh Festival about the same time - The League of Gentlemen, the Mighty Boosh, Armstrong and Miller - and then they all became enormous!
I'm training for the London Marathon at the moment - that's my thing. I'm 40 this year and you want to just tick off one of those things and go 'I've done it'. It's been a slow burner; it's crept over me suddenly - for years I'd been comfortable with the fact that I'd never have to run a marathon, and then gradually, at 38, in the back of my head a little idea came and I thought 'oh God, I'm going to have to do it'.
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