Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fanny Cooks Up a Comedy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fanny Cooks Up a Comedy

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Whetstone

Her recipes may be unfashionable but pioneer TV cook Fanny Cradock still inspires writers, as David Whetstone explains.

They're patently a nice bunch, the TV chefs. There's matey Jamie, jovial Ainsley and Garry with his funny haircuts and bonhomie. Then there's Delia who looks like everyone's mum.

It wasn't always like that. When Fanny Cradock ruled the small screen kitchen, there was no place for joviality and Fanny as your mum would have been the stuff of nightmares.

She was an autocrat who didn't suffer fools and cooked in a ballgown and jewellery.

For 20 years through the 1950s and 60s she was a TV star, teaching the young middle class housewives of Britain how to cook - aided respectfully by husband Johnny who wore a monocle and appeared to be horribly henpecked.

This TV icon, who died a decade ago, is recalled in a stage play called Fear Of Fanny which was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2002 and comes to Whitley Bay Playhouse next week.

It is not the first play about her life because Newcastle writer Julia Darling wrote one called Doughnuts Like Fanny's which was also performed in Scotland in 2002. Evidently the woman inspired people in ways she might not have understood.

Fear Of Fanny was written by Brian Fillis, aged 36, and the cast includes his brother Andrew, 32, who explained how a famously feisty TV cook became the subject of a stage show. "He watched a documentary which had a bit of footage of Fanny and that started it. He started to delve into her background, watched more footage and found out more about her. She was a pretty significant person in the early days of TV. Brian found that her life off-screen was also very colourful and a stage play started to take shape."

There was an autobiography, says Andrew, but as with all such accounts, some of the more startling and sensitive aspects were left out or skirted around.

"Apparently she was a complete nightmare and bossed everyone around in her programmes. …

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