Forgive me for not knowing until now who the Chicken Connoisseur is. I am in my 30s and I still haven’t got my head around the many millions of creative ways people use YouTube and how they have an immediate connection with their audience that the old dinosaurs of terrestrial TV can only dream of. Superstars are born, made fantastically wealthy, and crash and burn overnight. This much I know is true. I also know I’m playing catch-up. I swear I was standing in a Blockbuster choosing which video to watch just last week, but of course that was at least a decade ago.
So kudos to Channel 4 for giving Elijah Quashie his own TV series. This is a guy from Tottenham who made his name in 2016 reviewing chicken shops in The Pengest Munch. Important work, steering the nation away from disappointing fast food. He’s a critic who knows what he likes and he’s happy to give his opinion delivered in his own authentic style. There’s a lot of working class black slang going on here, but it all makes sense. Although again, I did have to look up peng which means handsome or fit as in “This is the pengest penguin in the world” which I’d pay good money to hear David Attenborough say on Blue Planet.
Elijah and his mates Nelson and Wilson are on a mission to work out what’s better – normal high-street stuff or high end rap-star lifestyle merch. Their easy natural humour is a joy to watch. The super car reviews are a Top Gear school project (Elijah’s real age is 25 but he looks younger and plays up to it), with ten times more excitement, good humour and fun than any top bants Clarkson and co could possibly muster. No one really cares how fast a car can go from 0 to 60. The challenges here are more down to earth – reverse parking and how much shopping you can fit in the boot. Elijah is adorable when he says he can’t test the cars personally, only having a “liccle provisional licence”. And then he eats his trademark fried chicken in a £180,000 Lamborghini only to go green and puke in a paper bag.
In this first episode alone they work through super cars, fancy hair cuts, penthouse living, and the most expensive kebab in the world (the Wagu beef is fine but it’s not spicy enough – needs sauce). It’s fast paced and wacky, Channel 4 making a decent attempt at transferring the energetic YouTube style to TV. Elijah’s easy wit and and charisma carry the show, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does next, on whatever format he chooses.
Peng Life episode 1 is on All4 to catch up with now. The series is on Fridays at 11:05 after The Last Leg.