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Cradock, Fanny (1909-1994)

Presenter, Cook

Main image of Cradock, Fanny (1909-1994)

Fanny Cradock (born Phyllis Nan S. Primrose-Pechey in the Channel Islands on 26 February 1909) was the first celebrity TV cook. Her bossy, no-nonsense delivery, and unusual penchant for glamour (swapping the chef's apron for evening gown, pearls and earrings) contributed to her mass appeal.

She was assisted throughout her career by her third 'husband' Major John Cradock, (the couple actually married as late as 1977) known to audiences as Johnnie. However, Fanny was clearly in charge, curtly ordering the monocled Johnnie around.

They began their TV career in 1955, on the BBC's Kitchen Magic. They were then snapped up by ITV to present the channel's first cookery programme, Fanny's Kitchen, which introduced such delights as prawn cocktail to post-ration book Britain.

Many programmes followed, including Chez Bon Viveur (1956), The Cradocks (1962), and a 'Happy Cooking' sequence in the children's programme Lucky Dip (1961-62). The couple returned to the BBC with Giving A Dinner Party (1969), Fanny Cradock Invites (1970) and Cradock Cooks For Christmas (1975). However, their television career came to an abrupt halt following public controversy over Fanny's insensitive remarks to amateur cook Gwen Troake in the talent-spotting programme The Big Time (BBC, 1976).

Fanny Cradock was also a prolific journalist and writer, and when she wasn't writing cookbooks or Daily Telegraph columns, she found time to produce several novels. She was also noted for her interest in spiritualism.

Johnnie died in 1987, Fanny survived him by seven years. In 2006, Julia Davis starred in a dramatised version of her life, Fear of Fanny (BBC4, tx. 13/10/2006).

Eddie Dyja

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