BBC calls time on The Restaurant as 2008 winners quit

by Kerstin Kühn, Wednesday 14th July 2010 14:31

The BBC has decided not to commission another series of The Restaurant with Raymond Blanc, fearing the economic climate will not support such ventures, weeks after the second winners of the show quit their business less than a year after opening.

Michele English and Russell Clement, the winners of the 2008 series of The Restaurant, have left the Cheerful Soul in the Hare and Hounds in Marlow, Buckinghamshire after things failed to work out.

The couple are the second winners of the show to quit their restaurant after less than a year in business. The 2007 winners, Jeremy and Jane Hooper, left Eight at the Thatch in Oxfordshire after just seven months in 2008.

English and Russell launched the 65-seat Cheerful Soul last June after wining The Restaurant and spending five months training with the team behind Brasserie Blanc. The couple shared front and back of house responsibilities, with English managing the restaurant and Clement heading up the kitchen.

However, Caterersearch understands that the couple has now left the Cheerful Soul, with a management company having been put in place by Blanc to run the business.

"They have left. Things didn't work out," a spokesman for the restaurant told Caterersearch.

Meanwhile, the BBC has announced that it will not commission another series of The Restaurant due to the recession.

The show, which ran for three series, gave competing couples the chance to open their own restaurant in partnership with Blanc and most recently with David Moore, owner of the multi-Michelin-starred Pied à Terre and L'Autre Pied restaurants in London, and former Clapham House director Sarah Willingham.

However, the BBC now believes that the format is no longer suitable because of the economic climate. "The Restaurant has proved a popular format with audiences, regularly attracting around two million viewers across its three series," the BBC said in a statement.

"However, we feel the time is right for The Restaurant to close its doors after three successful series".

Blanc, who was unavailable for comment, is currently "in discussions" with the BBC about a new series of Kitchen Secrets and other projects.

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By Kerstin Kühn

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