'Two Fat Ladies' chef Dickson Wright dies at 66
Published 18/03/2014 | 02:30
British celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright, best known as one half of the eccentric television culinary duo 'Two Fat Ladies', has died at the age of 66, her agents said yesterday.
The former barrister, who had fought a well-documented battle with alcoholism, shot to fame in the 1990s with Jennifer Paterson in a BBC TV show in which the women sped around Britain on a motorbike and sidecar searching for good food.
The show featured the two unashamedly large women with a raucous sense of humour enjoying butter-laden dishes and plates of red meat, with Dickson Wright once crediting the global success of the programme as a backlash to "the health police". She died in a hospital in Edinburgh on Saturday.
"Clarissa was utterly non-PC and fought for what she believed in, always, with no thought to her own personal cost," said a statement from her agents Elly James and Heather Holden-Brown. Paterson died of lung cancer in 1999 at the age of 71.
London-born Dickson Wright started out as a barrister but her career in law was brought to "an abrupt end" by her battle with alcohol. Her agency said her birthday this June would have marked her 27th dry year.
After leaving the law, she worked as a cook in a London club and private houses, running a catering business and a cookery bookshop in Edinburgh. It was while Dickson Wright was running this shop that producer Patricia Llewellyn became inspired to pair her with the equally eccentric Paterson, then a cook and columnist at 'The Spectator'.
The emphasis of the programme was to be on "suets and tipsy cake rather than rocket salad and sun-dried tomatoes", the producer declared. Hence bombastic tributes to such delights as cream cakes and animal fats were mingled with contemptuous references to "manky little vegetarians".
Not all the reviews were kind. Victor Lewis Smith in the 'London Evening Standard' referred to the ladies' "uncompromising physical ugliness" and "thoroughly ugly personalities". Another critic quipped: "Perhaps handguns shouldn't be banned after all."
The Triumph motorbike and sidecar that sped the two fat ladies around the countryside might have appeared contrived but their kitchen-sink comedy could never have been scripted.
Dickson Wright would come up with such lines as "look at those charming looking fellows" when describing scallops, and advise businessmen to come home and cook "to relax after the ghastly things they do in the City".
Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmeralda Dickson Wright was born on June 24 1947. "My parents had great trouble deciding what to call me in the first place," she explained about her abundant christening, "but then they were so delighted they had finally found a name, they got pissed on the way to the church."
To decide which name should come first, "they blindfolded my mother and turned her loose in the library, where she pulled out a copy of Richardson's Clarissa". (© Daily Telegraph, London)