EXCLUSIVE: One of the most buzzed-about formats of the UK Screenings is being pitched to international buyers as a cross between The Masked Singer and Hell’s Kitchen — and is currently in development with BBC One.
ITV Studios-owned producer Possessed TV, run by Glenn Hugill, who played The Banker on the UK version of Deal Or No Deal, introduced global broadcasters to Rat In The Kitchen on Wednesday during a polished pitch at the Roundhouse in Camden, London.
The format centers on a group of six cooks who are competing to win a cash prize across a series of challenges, but all the while, one of them is trying to sabotage their efforts — the rat in the kitchen. The idea is that viewers play along, whodunnit-style, to try and guess the chef wreaking havoc, while the show is fronted by a big-name chef who judges the dishes.
To illustrate the idea, Hugill played a clip from Hell’s Kitchen (another show in the ITV Studios stable), which showed a cook trashing some perfectly edible monkfish because she thought that it was unsafe to consume. He asked the audience to look at the clip through the lense of Rat In The Kitchen and consider whether the chef had made a genuine mistake, or if she is the saboteur. Here’s the clip:
Hugill said: “When you’re making that kind of show, of course, you’re absolutely thrilled when something like that happens, but what if you could guarantee that something like that was definitely going to happen? What if you apply a bit of The Masked Singer logic to cookery? That’s how you get to Rat In The Kitchen.
“The rat is deliberately trying to screw it up for everyone. They’re turning up the heat on the oven, they’re leaving the freezer door open, they’re swapping the salt for the sugar… but of course, this is cookery, so people are getting it wrong naturally all of the time. So it’s incredibly difficult to work out what was a genuine mistake and what was deliberate sabotage.”
Deadline understands that BBC One commissioned a non-transmission pilot of the format last year before The Masked Singer premiered on ITV in the UK. A source said: “It’s more whodunnit than who is it.” Hugill, who did not name the BBC in his presentation, said an unnamed commissioner was convinced by the format after she watched an episode of MasterChef and imagined that it was Rat In The Kitchen. “She rang me later that night and said ‘yeah, ok, you’ve got it [the commission]. I watched five minutes of MasterChef and within two minutes somebody had set fire to a tea towel.’ That’s the thing, people make these mistakes all the time,” Hugill laughed.
Possessed TV is also behind BBC One physical game show Catchpoint, presented by Top Gear host Paddy McGuinness, while it also makes Phillip Schofield-fronted Five Gold Rings for ITV.