Monday, February 20, 2006

Fanny Cradock

This Months Queens of Camp Hall of Fame Inductee
Fanny Cradock(February 26, 1909 - December 27, 1994) born Phyllis Primrose-Peachy, in Leytonstone, London, was a British writer, restaurant critic and television cook.
Fanny Cradock was an extraordinary woman. She was the first celebrity TV cook. We remember her strange mask-like face on TV, ordering, monacle wearing, husband Johnnie about as she strutted between counter and cooker. She was ridiculous, rather glamorous, but frightening too. She made the current bad boy, of culinary television, Gordon Ramsay look like Mother Theresa. She introduced a new wave of sophisticated foods, including the prawn cocktail. (yes that really was considered sophisticated in the 70’s!) She is still among the most famous of TV chefs, in part due to her explosive personality, ball gowns,bouffant hair, laquered within an inch of its life and independent eyelashes.

Despite her bizarre appearance, she was reassuringly concerned with the budgets of her audience and would often make comments like, " Of course, if you can't stretch to butter, then dripping will do." As her hey day was in the 70's there was (quite rightly) no concession to political correctness. In one episode she recommended one recipe for those, "...poor, little, old people who are living alone." Her television programmes have not aged well when looked back on today and both the format and her style look wildly eccentric; not too many cooks would today try and cook in a ball gown and produce a roast chicken dish surrounded by swirls of green dyed potato mash! It was not without reason that one of her obituaries in the UK broadsheets began with the words, "Fanny Cradock was a preposterous character". That, she certainly was.

In her early career as a writer she published two science fiction novels. She published over 100 cookbooks and a 96-part magazine cookery course. She later thankfully returned to writing fiction and left the TV kitchens of the UK free of ball gowns and green mashed potato. But the kitchens of british television were a duller place without her.
As a sure sign of her enduring fame "Fanny Cradock" is now used in rhyming slang for "Haddock". Fanny craddock we salute you! a real queen of camp.
http://www.geocities.com/queensofcamp/

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7 comments:

billy said...

I just watched fear of fanny on TV what a character I adore her!

Julia said...

I saw that too she is so funny. They certainly don't make them like that anymore!

mo said...

Granny Fanny lol bring her back i say!

Myles said...

That might be a bit difficult mo as she died in 1994!

Anonymous said...

loving your blog, found it when searching for Ms Craddock - why is there so little of her on the net/Youtube etc?

liits said...

I was wondering.... do you actualy remember FC or are you just jumping on the band-wagon of BBC4? I remember FC and she wasn't as harsh-bad-etc, etc as ahe was made out to be. Yes, she was crap [with bad make-up] but not as bad on screen as she is portrayed.

Andy said...

Fanny's "heyday" was the 1950s and '60s, not the '70s. Also, she championed her own version of the prawn cocktail in the 1960s, but was scornful of the commonly available version.