Oh Cook!

Dept. of Gourmet Gearheads


James May’s new Amazon Prime Video series Oh Cook! is a cooking show made to accompany the new James May cook book, Oh Cook!: 60 Recipes That Any Idiot Can Make. Yes, THAT James May. James ‘Captain Slow’ May has a cooking show. Why? Well, why the hell not?


Oh Cook! is as much a cooking show as The Great British Bake Off (or any number of cooking competition shows) is a cooking show. Let’s be honest, no one, not even the people who pitched the show to money bags Amazon, would seriously consider this to be a serious cooking show. The audience for Oh Cook! is as much the fan of James May (of which I consider myself to be) as it is someone who is actually interested in cooking. In fact, I dare say, if you were in the latter group, you’d be disappointed. But if you are in the former, then you may have a good time.

James May and Nikki Morgan cook over the stove in Oh Cook!

Oh Cook! sees James May, with the help of his home economist Nikki Morgan, work through some of the recipes in his book, as broken down into themes for each episode. Each episode sees May stumble, bumble, and cook his way through recipes ranging from asian fusion and pub classics, to breakfast, and the roast.


Honestly, this is all a bit of fun and games. Nikki, whose job it is to ensure that everything is done right, sits in a cupboard off camera, and his cameraman, Gary, is regularly in the shot.

Cameraman Gary getting right into James May's bowl for the close up in Oh Cook!

The first episode features (and I use this term lightly as they are actually behind the camera, squeezed in along with the director, and huddled around the camera monitor) the publishers of the cook book. This isn’t some polished Nigella Lawson series. In fact, there’s even a camera hiding in the back shooting towards James May’s back, that shows the crew and lighting rig.

And that is the whole point.

The camera angle that reveals all the workings of a cooking show in Oh Cook!

Oh Cook! the series (and presumably the cookbook that it’s named after) serves to dispel the magic of the TV cooking show. The series is a refreshing, unpretentious look at the genre. Things don’t go to plan, there is a “Nikki” (other names may apply in other shows) who may or may not be sitting in a cupboard somewhere, and there are the annoying beauty shots that must be taken before a single bite of food is had. All for the camera.

James May puts his salmon dish on the lazy Susan for the cameraman's beauty shot in Oh Cook!

James May is, as always, a delightfully grumpy old Englishman. He fusses, spouts interesting (but mostly inane) pieces of trivia, and is constantly annoyed at the people around him who are getting in his way as he tries to do the things he wants to do. If anything, Oh Cook! the TV show is one long advertisement for Oh Cook! the cook book. As these things are often wont to be.


Oh Cook! isn’t a competition show. It isn’t even a “non-chef does a cooking show” cooking show. This is James May doing a cooking show the way only James May can. Whether or not it would make someone want to get up and actually cook is another matter. But if a gearhead like James May can do it, then maybe you can too.

Oh Cook!
Amazon Prime Video, 1 season, 7 episodes
Directors: Will Daws and Tom Whitter
Cast: James May and Nikki Morgan

Oh Cook! is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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