Ulrika Jonsson and Lesley Garrett cook their way to MasterChef semi-final

The competition is heading towards boiling point as two more stars join the semi-finals.

Presenter Ulrika Jonsson and opera singer Lesley Garrett cooked their way to success as they were named MasterChef semi-finalists.

They made it through to the next round of the competition after a trying episode of the BBC 1 cooking contest that saw them whip up the perfect duck breast against the clock, serve a crowd of 120 at the London’s Oval cricket ground, and present a two-course meal to a trio of discerning critics.

Their success marked a last outing for Blue Peter’s Barney Harwood and actor Nick Moran, whose attempts failed to take the biscuit.

Presenters Gregg Wallace and John Torode ladled praise on Jonsson, with Torode describing her offerings of perfectly cooked fish and peach amaretti pudding as the best of the day.”

Garrett also impressed finale judges and former show contestants Louise Minchin, Alexis Conran and Sam Nixon with her fish stew and glamorously deconstructed rhubarb crumble.

While Jonsson burst into tears, Garrett belted out an impressive high note and said: “I want to just soak it up and remember it forever.”

Meanwhile, Moran, whose experimental dish of cockle popcorn and seaweed hit a sour note, joked: “I’ll be the guy that got sacked for trying to serve seaweed.”

A long-time fan of the show, Harwood was sad to go when his lemon meringue “shot” went awry, but added: “I’ve had the best time, it’s been amazing.”

Viewers appeared pretty pleased with the result, with Fiona Abbott commenting on Twitter: “Well done girls. Love your energy, cooking and enthusiasm. Good luck x”

Helen Kruger posted: “Well done ladies!!!!” but Ann Fittis begged: “Please tell Lesley to stop singing!”

Celebrity MasterChef continues on BBC 1 at 8pm on Wednesday.

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