The cook’s latest British TV show, Gordon Ramsay Behind Bars, shows the chef setting up a kitchen in London’s Brixton prison to teach inmates domestic skills – and the star admits he was stunned at the “comfort” in which the criminals live.

He has told Britain’s Guardian Weekend magazine: “What I wasn’t prepared for was how easy it was for them in there. I was astounded at the comfort zone they carve out for themselves. Five meal choices a night – that was the one I really struggled with. I just thought it was a bit of a joke, to be honest.

“Coupled with 24-hour television, Xbox, DVDs, gym. We can’t watch television until four o’clock in the morning. I’d like to have a gym (session) seven days a week, by the way. (I was) angry, yes, clearly – but quite embarrassed, really. I thought we were a nation of grafters (workers); I thought we had the spirit of working harder than anyone.”

Speaking about his experience in the prison system, he said: “From day one, just sat in that f**king waiting room, trying to get in, with no phone, and then being treated like a piece of s**t. Everything was going against me; the system was completely screwed, the governor was treating me like one of his b**ches. And I was banging my head against a brick wall.”

The star was also less than impressed with the work ethic of some of the prisoners. “Why would they want to come and bust their a**e for 10 hours a day when it was easy for them to do nothing? I find that hard to come to terms with.”