THE REMARKABLE MR PERRYMAN

Just when we thought Sedgefield couldn’t possibly produce another superstar, someone else steps in to soak up the limelight.

This time it is Pelican Lodge owner Ian Perryman who has literally ‘stolen the show’ by starring in, and indeed winning, the first program in the newly relaunched series of BBC’s hit reality show Come Dine With Me SA.

Come Dine With Me is an exceptionally popular and high-ranking show, which takes viewers into the homes of four contestants on four consecutive nights, each being given the chance to wine, dine and entertain the other three. At the end of each evening the three guests get to secretly judge the meal and give their host a score out of ten.

Whilst many locals knew Ian Perryman had made the cut to be in the show, and thus gathered round their TV sets to watch on 15 February, the fact that he had won was a very well kept secret that even his nearest and dearest were unaware of.

It all started back in July last year, when the guest lodge owner’s good friend Kathy de Wet discovered that BBC were planning to relaunch the famous Come Dine With Me in South Africa, and that the producers were inviting people to audition. Being an avid fan of the series, and knowing of his stage presence in local dramas, she immediately called Perryman and suggested he try out.
“I said ‘No ways, you must be CRAZY!’” he later told us.

But she kept on at him and eventually he reluctantly agreed to take the first step, as long as she handled all the paperwork.
“If I get in, I get in.” he said.

But as soon as she started filling in the forms, she had to call him – there were some very strange questions.

When it was finally complete, they submitted his online application on 1 August, and Perryman was quite surprised to receive a phone call from the show producers two days later, telling him that he had made it past the first cut and asking if they could do a telephonic interview?
“I told them I was actually having lunch with friends in Franschhoek at the time, so they should call back on Monday, which they did,” Perryman laughed.

The telephone interview went well and two weeks later the producers called him again to say he was through to the next cut, and asking if they could set up a screen test for both him and his home.
As everything was to be filmed at his ‘Second Home’ in Pretoria on 21 August, Perryman flew up to meet with the production team, and once again, all went swimmingly.
“That’s when I put across the concept of appearing as an ‘alternative persona’ – either Lady Scarlet or Miriam Makeba,” he said. His screen test and details of his idea were sent over to UK where everything was ‘vetted’ by the BBC, and at the beginning of September he received another call “Well done – you’re on the show, and you will be cooking on 7 October!” By this time he had certainly picked up on the excitement of being on TV.

Perryman explained that the filming of each episode takes five days, which includes the ‘profiling’ of the four contestants ie – who they are and what they are about. Each gets a full day in the hands of one camera crew as he or she prepares the meal and gets dressed up for the occasion. Then a second crew arrives to film the arrival and subsequent entertainment of the other three guests, which includes, of course, numerous quirky comments, a bit of behind the back criticism, and anything else that makes for good viewing.

“Every part of the show that is shot is directed,” Perryman said, going on to explain how they weren’t allowed to discuss anything ‘off camera’. Though nothing the contestants said was falsified, the crew definitely steered the round table conversations, with pre-set questions and suggestions as to who asked what of who: “Nonnie, ask Carmi about her pole-dancing”.

They would also regularly pull each person off to the side to ask what he or she thought of the meal or the other contestants, once again asking leading questions in an effort to get interesting, if not a little scandalous sound bytes.

On Perryman’s night of entertainment, he suggested that guests should arrive dressed up as their ‘alternative persona’, and of course his outrageously extravagant ‘ Lady Scarlet’ outfit did more than set the tone for the evening.

And Lady Scarlet’s meal more than assured she would be the ‘Hostess with the Mostest’. A beetroot potage starter served with parmesan croutons, followed by a main course of stuffed baby poussin with a side of baby vegetables, and a red velvet trifle dessert, scored a delicious 22 out of 30. This put ‘her’ a single point ahead of runner-up Nonhlanhla Ntwasa, the next evening’s hostess, and Perryman/Scarlet were declared the winner of the R10 000 prize.

Perryman, who has been a Sedge resident for 13 years, said he absolutely loved this opportunity to enjoy “15 minutes of fame”, and his only regret was that the editors cut out any reference he made to Sedgefield. When the show was broadcast for the first time he invited a huge crowd of family, friends (and, dare I say, fans?) to Pelican Lodge to watch with him, and was overjoyed that everyone could share the experience in a light-hearted and uplifting evening.