My mother, Daphne, who appears as a vibrant character in a number of my books, took part in ‘Come Dine With Me’, broadcast on Chanel 4 and in Australia.
Whilst, we her family, find Mum’s appearances daunting, if not traumatic, she has made quite a splash with viewers. By the end of the first episode #comedinewithme was trending on Twitter:
‘There’s an eighty-year-old lady on Come Dine With Me who has a pet otter and this is who I want to be when I grow up.’
Daphne is what is great about Britain..cute polite nice classy positive welcoming….’
‘Daphne is lovely
‘I’m watching how cute is that old lady Daphne!! Ahhh’
‘Yes and we love Daphne too!!
I could not love Daphne anymore than if she was my own Nan!’
‘Aww I do love Daphne!!
‘We are only tuning in to watch daphne
‘Aww isn’t Daphne just the best!!
‘I love Daphne on #comedinewithme
‘Daphne the perfect dinner guest
I totally want to adopt Daphne!!
Oh I LOVE Daphne, I’d score her night a 10 even if the food was crap!
Daphne opened Episode 5, being ‘first off’, with a can of tomatoes.
She was interviewed in her kitchen and we met the guests as they came downstairs. The fact that she lives in a converted mill wasn’t made clear to the other contestants.
‘Keep to the left, its a spiral staircase’, one viewer cried.
However, every detail of the meal had been carefully planned. The wine was chilled, the table looked lovely and there was almost constant laughter. Viewers seemed to be engaged: ‘Go daphne!!
Mum prepared tomato and mushroom soup for her four guests, (quite good but looks disgusting on camera) followed by wild salmon, only to find out that two of the guests disliked fish, which was a bit of a pity.
Viewers on Twitter were appalled: ‘Seriously…. Who don’t eat fish?’ & ‘So James wouldn’t eat Daphne’s main cause he doesn’t like fish but his starter is lobster?
One of the guests, who was a stickler for good manners, became irritated by another member of the party and walked out before pudding, which was quite dramatic.
‘Anne’s bottled it…. We have a reserve.’ #comedinewithme
Anne rather blew her own words out of the water, although Daphne said she later wrote to apologise. There was a roar from viewers on Twitter:
‘OMG how rude is Anne?! Lecturing the others on manners and then walking out on Daphne?! Bitch!’
Suddenly there was one less. Mum’s fans on Twitter were in uproar:
Poor Daphne, completely bemused!!’
‘Why do people bother applying for Come Dine With Me when they can’t handle social situations and drop out early?’
Daphne ploughed on and the evening became increasingly enjoyable, especially when Rudi the Otter was brought down to meet everyone.
In the end, she was awarded 28 points by her four dinner guests. The Twitter-atary added their opinion:
‘Everyone needs to protect and look after Daphne, that woman is a legend!!
‘If Daphne doesn’t win I’m going to kill someone
‘Anyone see the water sossig on #comedinewithme ? (an ottter)
‘Daphne is our winner
Can we have Daphne on every week please!
‘Absolutely love on . . . What a legend! I want to meet her and her otter.’
This is difficult due to lockdown but can certainly read more about her-
You can read about the antics of Daphne and her tame otters in ‘Funnily Enough’ by Sophie Neville available online or to order at your local library. She is also portrayed in ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’ as she worked behind-the-scenes on the 1974 movie. If you prefer reading ebooks, the same story is available under the title ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons’ for £2.99