What time is MasterChef 2021 on BBC One tonight?

EVERYONE'S favourite cooking show is returning to the small screen.

MasterChef is back on TV with a whole batch of new hopefuls.

When does MasterChef 2021 start on TV?

The MasterChef 2021 series, which is the 17th instalment of the popular show, began on March 1 at 9pm.

Tonight's episode (March 18) airs at 8:30pm.

The show, consisting of 18 episodes, airs on BBC One as always.

The first week of episodes will air on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

If you miss any episodes they will be available on BBC iPlayer.

Who are the MasterChef 2021 contestants?

Masterchef starts off with 40 contestants, who all compete in heats of five members.

At the end of each week, four contestants who've made it through go head-to-head in the quarter-finals, in order to secure their place in the semi-finals.

Judge Gregg Wallace says they're a strong group of cooks, potentially raising the game of the meals whipped up this year.

He said: “What we realised, me and John, was that the standard was incredible even at the early stages.

“What we suspect has happened is because so many people are working from home, we think they’ve had a lot more time to practice, because we couldn’t believe the standard of the cooks in the early rounds.

"We normally get a mixed bag. This time we were getting good cook off after good cook after good cook.”

Who are the MasterChef 2021 judges?

There will be no surprises here.

John Torode and Gregg Wallace will return together as judges for the cooking competition that has been running since 2005.

Guest judges from the food industry will feature during the series as in previous iterations of the show.

It's been confirmed that some of these guests will include former champions Thomas Frake, Saliha Mahmoud Ahmed, Ping Coombes and Kenny Tutt, plus Grace Dent who is a professional food critic.

How does MasterChef 2021 work?

The format for this year will be almost identical to previous years, with contestants competing in heats.

However, this series was filmed with Covid-19 restrictions in place so contestants couldn't touch and the dynamics were shifted.

Gregg joked to PA Media that one positive was that it meant he and John got their own plates this series, rather than sharing one between them to taste the contestants' meals.

This series also includes a new challenge based around favourite ingredients.

The first five contestants begin by preparing their signature dish on Monday and another five do the same in the Wednesday show.

Friday sees the four heat winners battle it out in the quarter finals to make it through to knockout week.

This continues until all 40 contestants have competed.

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