Danny Malin shares his heartbreak as his Steph's Packed Lunch 'family' axed from Channel 4

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Rate My Takeaway star Danny Mei Lan Malin shares his sadness as Steph’s Packed Lunch comes to an end, in this exclusive column for the YEP.

Last week we were quickly ushered off the set of Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch. While there is always a buzz around the TV show when you’re on set – which broadcasts live from Leeds Dock every weekday – this was unusual to be asked to leave so quickly once the show had aired.

I was stopped outside by a Rate My Takeaway fan for a photo and by the time I looked down at my phone, the news broke. The show, which has been like an extended family to many of us, had been axed.

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Shock rippled amongst other regulars on the show, could this really be the end?

Danny and Sophie Mei Lan Malin on the set of Steph's Packed Lunch (Photo by Sophie Mei Lan Malin)Danny and Sophie Mei Lan Malin on the set of Steph's Packed Lunch (Photo by Sophie Mei Lan Malin)
Danny and Sophie Mei Lan Malin on the set of Steph's Packed Lunch (Photo by Sophie Mei Lan Malin)

For many this place had been a career launch pad, a bit like YouTube had been for me. While the show had given me incredible opportunities to present segments, as I’ve always wanted to work on TV, while also managing the school runs, my relationship with the people involved in Steph’s Packed Lunch ran much deeper.

When I wasn’t a guest presenter or ‘Steph’s friends’ as she called her co-presenters, I opted to be a Lunchmate aka part of her studio audience.

It meant that I could have a few hours a week of self-care. I joined the show post-Covid, I had just gone viral online and yet I felt deeply lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of fun filming Rate My Takeaway with the guys and meeting people along the way but you become that character, so it was nice on the show to sometimes be in the background.

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There’s three of us who do the YouTube channel as it’s all just shot on a phone, so it was interesting seeing how Steph’s was produced. The production team who call you for regular research chats prior to your appearance as well as holding your hand and bigging you up when you’re on the show, don’t just do it as a job, they treat you as if a close relative.

That’s the culture of the place, we’re like a family. They have seen me through thick or thin. More thick than thin with the amount of takeaways I eat. Seriously though, I’ve had some tough times and the crew have helped me through. We’re that close.

The team and Lunch mates even attended my wedding. For other lunch mates too, the show has been there reason to get up on a morning and has seen several of us through ill health.

Just like the impact a thriving takeaway can have on the whole community around it, this Yorkshire born and bred show is soul food for people in Leeds. I know Channel 4 like most of us are cutting costs but this is a staple in our northern diet that must not be kicked off air.

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Yes, I know they’ve said that they are focused on investing in the shows to best drive their “digital-first strategy”, and as a YouTuber I know how important online is. But I also know that life is not just about the number of views it’s about the retention and engagement of your audience – and most of all the impact you’re having.

Steph’s show has a loyal following who feel part of the family because they are but again out-of-touch TV executives have put an end to the Leeds dream come true.

By Danny Mei Lan Malin (DannyMalin.com/yorkshirefamilies.co.uk)

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