Motorcycle-riding chef Clarissa Dickson Wright of 'Two Fat Ladies' fame dies at 66
Known as much for her flippant quips as for her lard-laden recipes, Dickson Wright helped changed the nature of TV cooking shows.
Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Clarissa Dickson Wright, one of the corpulent cooks who comprised British television’s cheeky “Two Fat Ladies,” has died at the age of 66.
Her literary agents, Heather Holden-Brown and Elly James, said Dickson Wright passed away of an unspecified illness on March 15 at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary.
Born Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright – a name as eccentric as she was – Dickson Wright grew up in an affluent London family and became a lawyer at the age of 21. Alcoholism ended her early career and upon sobering up, she set her sights on cooking. She was writing a cooking column and running a cookbook shop when she was scouted for a BBC cooking show, “Two Fat Ladies,” in which she would team up with her stout co-star, the equally saucy Jennifer Paterson.
Each episode began with the two zooming to a new location aboard a vintage Triumph motorcycle, a leather-helmeted Dickson Wright nestled in the sidecar. Upon arrival, they would cook and quip with an array of guests. The curious dynamic duo – shunning vegetarianism, embracing animal fat in every form, reveling in flatulence jokes and all the while performing a splendid cooking show – might best be described as the odd love children of Anthony Bourdain and Julia Child.
The show ran from 1996 until Paterson died of lung cancer in 1999 at the age of 71.
Dickson Wright was "a marvelous cook and hugely knowledgeable about food and food history,” said the show’s producer, Patricia Llewellyn. "She was a force of nature and a true character, someone who knew how to tell a great story and had a fabulous sense of humor.”
Following the end of “Two Fat Ladies,” Dickson Wright worked on several other television shows and wrote several books, including "A History of English Food" and a memoir, "Spilling the Beans."
She also managed to keep herself in the news for her more rural pursuits; in 2009, she plead guilty to hare coursing, which was banned by the Hunting Act 2004. She made headlines again recently when she suggested that Britons should eat badgers, which were being euthanized by the thousands in an attempt to wipe out bovine tuberculosis.
"It would solve the problem," she said. "There's going to be a cull, so rather than just throw them in the landfill site, why not eat them?"
Maybe not quite politically correct – and clearly she had a knack for making animal rights activist shudder – but regardless, her pragmatic irreverence will be missed by many.
Watch the two make meals out of little more than lard, bacon, bacon fat, cream and “great dollops of butter, that’s always a grand idea,” in the clip below:
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