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Who was the first TV chef

01:00 Mon 30th Jul 2001 |

A. The rise and rise of TV cookery programmes has propelled many chefs into celebrity superstardom. The British love affair with TV cookery shows began in the early 1970s when the little known Fanny Craddock appeared on our screens. She became an instant hit with her husband Johnny by her side, and produced elaborate dishes with absurd garnishes, such as scrunched up paper roses.


Fanny Craddock began with newspaper colums penned under the name Bon Viveur. She brought to the screen her own gimmicks such as enormous rings and often insulted her husband on air. Her adoring audience at one point became quite carried away by her fame. On one occasion, when Fanny and Johnny gave their second cookery demonstration in front of 3,000 people in Edinbugh's Usher Hall, mounted police had to be called to control the crowds.


Q. When did she disappear from the TV

A. By the late 1970s, her popularity was in steep decline, culminating in a disastrous appearance on BBC's Big Time show presented by Esther Rantzen. The winner of an amateur cook of the year competition was given the chance to meet chefs and personalities. Fanny appeared very patronising and offensive and she effectively burst the Craddock bubble. She was never asked to appear on television again.


Q.Which other chefs made their name on TV

A. One of the most influential is Delia Smith, who has produced several books and hundreds of television programmes, instructing viewers even as far as boiling an egg. Her popularity remains very high, although in recent times she has been challenged by more relaxed presenters.


Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, is a young, spontaneous chef, who learned his trade in his dad's pub in Essex and in the kitchens of London's River Cafe. His 'Mockney' accent and easy to prepare recipes have earned him millions.


Nigella Lawson, daughter of former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, used to eat a lot and then discovered healthy eating. She is the author of two extremely successful books, How to Eat, and How to be a Domestic Goddess, and her cookery programme on Channel 4 attracts a large following.


Gary Rhodes is famous for tapping into cookery's new roll and roll status. He has been dubbed the Nigel Kennedy of cooking, and has recently taken over presenting MasterChef from Loyd Grossman, and is set to take the show across the Atlantic.


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By Katharine MacColl

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