RESTAURATEUR and new TV star, Stuart Collins, has shared his experiences of appearing on Great British Menu and the impact it has had on Whitchurch.

The renowned chef, who runs Docket no.33 in High Street, was crowned winner of the 'central region' heat in the first week of the show.

He has since booked himself a spot in the final, to be aired on TV on Friday at 8pm, on BBC 2.

But despite the excitement of being on TV, Stuart says he has enjoyed the local response.

Speaking ahead of reopening on Thursday, Stuart said: "The response from the show and the response in general has been phenomenal.

"Both through the awareness from TV and from people just coming out and dining again.

"We are now full booked until January, it's been an amazing, amazing response."

Stuart says while many of the bookings are from local residents, many people have travelled from further afield, potentially providing a boost to the town.

"Just last week there was a table from Somerset," added Stuart.

"They're coming here and they're staying locally.

"If it's a two night stay it means they are dining somewhere on the other night too.

"It's providing a boost to the town.

"It just means the further people are travelling, the more Whitchurch will be put on the map.

"The decline of hight street, especially in the last 12 to 18 months, these little towns are valuable places – Shropshire does market towns very well.

"What's more important is that people support people and know how important the high street is."

Since appearing on the show, Stuart says it is an experience he has enjoyed.

"It's something that I've kind of grown into," added Stuart.

"I know a few people who have been on the show before, but I had no expectations.

"In town it's incredible, people say hi to me if they see me.

"The support from everybody locally has been incredible, it's something we've grown into and we're embracing.

"On the back of a turbulent year it's important to get the name of the town out there."

Regarding the 'magic of television' Stuart says there are no smoke and mirrors in what the viewers see.

"Great British Menu is very real," Stuart added.

"It's not scripted and there no retakes.

"All the highs and the lows, it's very true.

"You watch it back now and notice things that don't get shown, but equally there are moments that get caught, like the saying 'no drama baby llama'.

"I kind of forgot I even said it, but it's caught on!

"In terms of the programme it is a cooking show, about the food but there is the whole production around it.

"It's the first TV production I have been involved in and you a realise how much production actually goes into making it.

"It's great fun though."

And finally, Stuart says he has enjoyed his time in Whitchurch since opening in 2017.

"The reason we bought the restaurant is because we love the town and seeing the progression of the town," he added.

"It's lovely to see all of these things bring it to life.

"We are busy, we have a lot of new faces which is wonderful.

"Whitchurch has helped us create those positions in the business to help us do what were setting out to achieve."