Gregg Wallace has joked that the best part of Covid filming protocols for Celebrity MasterChef is he no longer has to share a plate of food with John Torode.

In previous years, contestants prepared one dish that both TV judges would taste from, but under new rules they must make separate plates.

Discussing how the pandemic has changed the programme ahead of finals week, Wallace told the PA news agency: “I just want to go back to being able to shake hands with the people I work with in the morning.

“The oddest thing is not being able to put your arms around people you’ve worked with for nearly 20 years, the filming isn’t that different.

“The only thing we’re missing out on is foreign travel. MasterChef isn’t very often a group activity anyway, this is why it’s been so easy to film it during Covid because they’ve all got their own positions.

“There’s been a couple of benefits that come out of it, John and I now get our own dish.

“That came out of necessity and how brilliant not to have to elbow John out of the way for the choicest bits on the plate. How fantastic is that? ‘Shall I pick up that bit or may John have dribbled over it already?’

“Now you get your own plate, it’s absolutely brilliant. So that’s one of the better bits, the bits that do get annoying is Sam, the floor manager, walking around with a six-foot stick making sure that John and I don’t come within six feet of each other.

“I also want to see the MasterChef contestants hugging each other when they go through.”

The final episodes of the current series will see the five remaining contestants tackle pies with acclaimed chef Calum Franklin, before the final four tackle the Chef’s Table challenge – delivering food to impress Michelin-starred chefs Michel Roux Jr, Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Paul Ainsworth and Aktar Islam.

The finale, to air on Friday, will see the last three contestants battle it out to be named Celebrity MasterChef champion 2021.

Torode said: “It goes to the stage where whoever is willing to jump in boots and all and just go for it will survive because they don’t know what’s going to happen.

“It’s like that term from Gladiator where he says, ‘Whatever comes through those gates, just hold on’. It’s gonna happen to you, it’s like a rollercoaster, just put your hands up in the air and just enjoy it because it’s a lot more fun that way.

The big pie challenge is wonderful because it’s something everyone associates with.

“If you don’t like a pie, you don’t have a pulse, in my opinion, it’s a bloody great thing.

“Then the Chef’s Table is amazing, magical, because they are pushed to their limits and we have a little bit of fun.

“We are trying to have as much fun because we want them to have fun. If you’re unhappy, then the food’s gonna taste like you’re unhappy.”

The final episodes of Celebrity MasterChef are on BBC One at 9pm on September 15, 16 and 17.