Fanny Cradock and the Pepper of Doom



Been one of those one step forward two steps back sort of days really.

In an effort to spice it all up I decided to see what peppers and an onion looked like on a Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey Cookery Programme. Lacking a working 1960’s black and white TV, I resorted to some Photoshop trickery.

Better known as Fanny Cradock, Phyllis brought excitement via the BBC to the dowdy home kitchens of post war Britain and I well remember being introduced to the delights of steamed chicken with mushroom as a result of my mother’s attempts to emulate her idol’s cooking. My father on the other hand seemed to tolerate and even like the steamed chicken, leaving the mushrooms to one side though or passing them to the dog. I like to believe that he, my dad not the dog, identified with the rather down trodden and seemingly permanently pissed Johnny Cradock. I think that he and many other male viewers of the time only watched the programme in the hope that Johnny would finally crack under the strain of his wife’s constant vitriolic onslaught and cleave her from head to toe whilst live on the air.

Cradock’s life was made the subject of two biopic dramas: Doughnuts like Fanny’s by Julia Darling and Fear of Fanny by Brian Fillis. Both I am told are riveting studies of pre Keith Floyd cooking.

I heard recently that many of Hancock’s and even Milligan’s early works were destroyed by the BBC during cost cutting procedures during the 1990’s. I wonder if Fanny’s work suffered the same fate.


About Duncan Harley

Author, photographer and feature writer.
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