SHEFFIELD Labour party chair Paul Wood revealed hidden skills to the nation this week, when he hosted a 1920s-themed dinner party on the TV series Come Dine With Me.
But the show’s 2m viewers missed out on the real drama. With 20 minutes to go before the first night’s filming, Paul fell downstairs, injuring his leg so badly that he feared he would have to pull out. Three painkillers got him through the evening, but took their toll.
“I didn’t drink anything because of the pills and couldn’t move either. The others all commented on how quiet I seemed, which isn’t like me at all,” he said. “Luckily I was a lot better by the second night.”
Paul is up against four other Sheffielders in this week’s TV contest.
Host on the first night was carer Louise McGowan, followed by Paul on Tuesday and Russian Yana Khodakovskaya on Wednesday. Still to come are musician Tommy Jones and beautician Gina Shepherd – who is host on Friday when the £1,000 winner is revealed.
The cooks agreed not to reveal the winner in advance.
Paul, of Handsworth, a music promoter by profession, found himself in the series almost by accident. “The staff at work entered me and I knew nothing about it until I got the call. I thought I may as well have a go.”
A self-taught cook, his only lessons were at school when – as a piano player – he took domestic science to avoid damaging his hands in woodwork or metalwork classes.
He had originally intended to cook a three-bird roast on the show, stuffing a pheasant with duck and wild boar. But he realised time would be a problem, so substituted venison in red wine, with root vegetables.
The ambitious meal went down well with his guests, although a starter of seafood, complete with bulging-eyed prawns, caused some alarm.
A run-through for friends the previous week had ended in disaster when his strawberry baked Alaska collapsed. So Paul took no chances on the big day and made extra sure all the ice cream was covered with meringue.
He called on music industry friends to add the finishing touch to the evening, with a live performance which he accompanied on the piano.
Unlike other groups, the Sheffield contestants got on well together. “Lots of them never see each other again, but after the final show we all went out celebrating until 3am…
“They were all very different, but all very likeable. We’ve been in touch since and we’re planning to go out together again in a couple of weeks’ time.”
Paul earned 32 points out of 40, putting him in the lead. But will it be enough to clinch the prize?
Come Dine With Me, Channel 4, tomorrow (Friday), 5.30pm.