Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Get Stuffed

Genre: Cookery
Channel: ITV
Transmission: 1991 - 94

It's a common complaint that there's too many cookery programmes on television these days. As we watch nothing but archived television 24/7, we're not too bothered about contemporary TV schedule monotony. Also, we love cooking so ain't never complain of new and mouthwatering ways to manipulate a humble rump steak. The people who do complain are the same people who make tuna pasta bake with crisps crumbled on top i.e. culinary peasants. Perhaps a TV show is needed for these people. Perhaps their saviour lies way back in the early 90s with Get Stuffed.

Set the Table

Get Stuffed is as bonkers as a French chef who's hit the cooking sherry rather hard and tried to commandeer a set of traffic lights. But don't worry, this ain't exactly some exercise in avant-garde cookery, the central premise is ridiculously simple: students - aka 'them young people' - are given five minutes of fame to cook up a meal which not only tantalises the tastebuds, but also minimises the damage on their student load - which is obviously reserved for booze.

Episodes usually start with the manically cheerful students out on the street introducing their recipes with a level of enthusiasm that even children's TV presenters would struggle to match. Bounding off to the shops they bamboozle petrified shop owners who just wanna get them off their promises sharpish. Pogoing back to their grubby and potential E.coli holiday camp kitchens, they proceed to cook up a cheap, quick and so called 'tasty' meal.

The recipes are accompanied by ditties and interstitial cartoons relating to the cooking process. Occasionally, the Mystery Chefs appear with cooking tips, but make sure you have your ear plugs at the ready to deal with them and their insane screeching.

Recipe for Success

Get Stuffed originally started life as short segments on the now defunct Lifestyle Channel which was one of the early Astra satellite channels. Honing the idea, Last Ditch TV took the format to ITV who aired the series between 1991 - 94. The show usually aired in the graveyard slot, often after midnight.

Episodes were generally between 5 and 10 minutes long and this allowed the series to amass 284 episodes of culinary madness. There was at least one Christmas special which ran to 30 minutes and a recipe book published under the title 'Banquets for Bankrupts'. The series was off air for several years, but 108 of the episodes were repeated on ITV between 2001 - 2005.

There's very little details online about the people behind the show; quite who devised the show is a mysterious affair. Andy Murrow founded Last Ditch TV and also authored the 'Banquets for Bankrupts' book, but we can only speculate that it was his brainchild. Andy Barber presented and produced the show as well as providing the music, but at no point does he lay claim to coming up with the idea. It's something we're keen to discover and shall continue to investigate in the future.

Getting Stuck In

Curious British Telly was only aware of Get Stuffed thanks to our childhood love of American wrestling. We didn't have satellite television at home, so couldn't watch our beloved WWF wrestling. Instead, we had to settle for WCW wrestling which ITV would air in the graveyard slot on Saturday evenings. Our father would set the video to record the wrestling and, quite often, it would also capture an episode of Get Stuffed which preceded WCW.

We were always a bit bemused by the show as we weren't interested in cooking and we didn't really get what was going on. Sometimes we'd watch it, but at other times we'd fast forward through it to see who Sting was fighting that week. The memory, though, of anarchic energy and lo-fi production loitered in our memory and reminded us of a simpler time.

The only footage online of Get Stuffed is over at the official website (http://www.getstuffed.info), so we duly investigated the clips.

The opening titles feature an oven exploding which - apart from setting the tone for the show - triggered some long forgotten memory. We were taken back to early Sunday mornings in the 90s for a brief second. It's moments like this which remind us why we blog. The students featured in the show are high energy and a bit wacky. One recipe sees a couple of chaps wearing the headpieces from the board game 'Bizzy Buzzy Bumble Bees' for no particular reason. Yeah, they're irritating and sum up why the rest of the population despises students, but if you want straitlaced cookery programmes, seek out Delia, mate.

The DIY ethic is strong throughout and we imagine the show was made for next to nothing. In this time of economic hardship, we would have expected a return of shows like this to our screens. Sadly, production values seem high up on the list for television these days. The internet, thankfully, retains this lo-fi ethic as YouTube shows.

The actual recipes featured on Get Stuffed seem to be post-pub food, but do involve a lot of frying, so be careful kids. They're cheap and cheerful affairs, so perhaps they were of use to the type of people up late enough to watch. Personally, we'll be sticking to our beef wellington stuffed full of truffles.

Our favourite bit of the show is probably Andy Barber's songs. They're witty little thrashes reminiscent of an Oi! busker which act as a wonderful side dish to the show's anarchic edge. Students gurning and waving their arms about ain't exactly enough to engage viewers, but chuck in some three chord madness and it makes everything a bit more palatable.

Michelin Star?

Get Stuffed is indicative of the 90s obsession with lo-fi 'yoof tv' which included The Adam and Joe Show, Fist of Fun and also bears a passing resemblance to Vids and Bits. The episodes are frenzied affairs which have a ramshackle charm and, at such a short length, just avoid grating at your nerves. And, dare we say it, they're more fun than going back to early 90s WCW.


  1. Ah I remember this show very well. I was a student at the time and watched this post boozer many an occasion. They had some ridiculously easy recipes including a couple of skateboarders instructing viewers how to make beans on toast. I loved the fact you got to see the interiors of real houses and it was somehow comforting that some were even scruffier than my own shared abode. It felt like you say, a simpler time where there a cooking show where I actually had the ingredients rather the strange and exotic cooking shows prefer nowadays. I'd love it if someone bought this out as a compilation DVD. It was an anarchic, joyous and simple affair, or was that just me?

    1. Footnote - I remember this often followed after a short show which simply had one of the ex-actors out the Bill prowling a city centre interviewing people who had late night jobs such as kebab shops, airport cleaners, policemen and the like. It often led to the presenter being verbally accosted by drunken members of the public who were in said premises or drunkenly walking along the high streets. It might have even been called Nightshift

    2. And through the medium of the tinterweb here is said show!


    3. Looks a right corker of a show! Cheers for the tip! Will seek out a little bit more of this curious looking telly!

    4. Me again with one last footnote! I also recall the mystery chefs probably reached something like the height of their fame appearing on Channel 4's music show 'Naked City'. I remember they were interviewed by the lovely Caitlin Moran (whom I had a crush on at the time). I seem to recall they shouted a lot and and may have had a drink or two...

      Here's the link to the show's makers - it was episode 3


      All the best,


  2. I have a vhs video of get stuffed. I also remember Nightshift & another thing called Shady Tales which I think starred Adam Faith.

  3. I have a vhs video of get stuffed. I also remember Nightshift & another thing called Shady Tales which I think starred Adam Faith.

  4. I wish someone would upload them to the pirate bay, i'd love to see them again.

  5. Once ITV decided to go for the 24/7 format, it was shows like this that started my bad habit of going to bed ridiculously late. It was pretty addictive stuff, sometimes presented by a really cute girl I recognised from Norwich Arts Centre, using locations in and around... erm... Norwich. Low and budget are two words that spring to mind. But it was fun! Back then, Keith Floyd was The Man, and this show had a hint of his bung-it-all-in-and-keep-talking philosophy about it. Some episodes are on YouTube, by the way.

    1. I'm certain I had a few episodes of Get Stuffed on VHS, but sadly they were junked years ago. I'll check out YouTube to see if any new episodes have gone up!

  6. I remember seeing this, sitting up late at night as I waited for 'Cue the Music' to start, or that music programme from Canada whose name I can't recall.

    1. Oh year, and 90% of the recipes seemed to include a substance called Sosmix (vegetarian sausage dry mix), which the students would transform into fabulously repulsive plates of beige grout.

    2. Sosmix? Sounds delicious, but I'll stick with some butcher's sausages for now!

  7. Late night t.v. back in the 90's through to the mid 00's was so diverse and often excellent it set the bar so high that no broadcaster now could compete. Those were the days (nights).

  8. Used to watch it when I was about 12 and struggled with sleep owing to a knee injury. I remember one episode where they were making mulled wine and they warned against over warming it as "otherwise you will have no alcohol and there will be no point in drinking it!"

  9. A superb classic! Yes I wasa wrestling fan be it I was 15 in 91! It was a cooking show we all want as it lasted minutes and yet it was fun.

  10. Yes! I never had any interest in cookery shows but it was the strange kind of thing that one would come across on through the night t.v. back in the 90's.
    It is a terrible, unspoken shame that there is no proper, diverse programming on t.v. through the night nowadays and its probably not going to change any time soon. as no one, anywhere wants to encourage the public to stay up through the night as the Government needs us all to get to bed so we can go and work a 12 hour shift somewhere and be good little taxpayers.
    Society in the 90's needed people to work and pay tax as well but they showed GREAT TELLY.
    Television programming now is so bad people might prefer to go to bed/ work.
    Terrible shame.

  11. Someone has uploaded the VHS video that was released at the time.


  12. I love this programme and have a few on VHS. I think the owner gets them taken down from YouTube. It's a shame they are not on tv - even on a channel like Talking Pictures who had some 90s Bruce Burgess UFO shows on recently.

  13. I remember it... can't say I "Loved" it, it was a bit to '1990s' for me (a decade that, despite being in my teens, I never really enjoyed, much preferring the 1980s) but it always seemed to be on late night on ITV and passed the time at least.

    I do recall, some 10 years or so later, they made a biggish-sort-of-deal about repeating the episodes and ?making some new ones?.

    I'm also trying to remember the title of a sort-of-related-show (same production house I'd imagine) where they would give people various novelty items to try, and then go and see what they thought of them "three days later". That was similar slightly-rubbish but not bad after a beer and watching a film. (I could go and look up the title but in truth, I can't really be bothered). :D

  14. Get Stuffed was awesome!
    Fond memories of bedsit food...
    I had the book once, but it got lost along the way :-(

  15. Back in the day - circa 92/93 ish - I loved this but was often too wasted for it to stick in my memory - that said I've been using the Get Stuffed method for world-beating fish finger sandwiches regularly ever since !