R.I.P. Ready Steady Cook

Ready Steady Cook audience judge the cook-off Happier times

Ready Steady Cook has hung up its apron, given the chop after almost 16 years on air.

The last grain of salt has run through the egg timer. The timer has pinged on the oven. The goose is cooked. And the red tomato and green pepper have been consigned to the great compost heap in the sky.

Fans of daytime television have reacted with sadness to news that BBC Two's Ready Steady Cook has staged its last cook-off.



The Magazine's obituaries for cultural icons

No more episodes of Britain's longest running cookery show are being made, although mourners with a £5 bag of mystery ingredients to hand can console themselves with repeats until the end of next year.

Friends of the show may have foreseen its demise in its resolutely non-Ramsey-ified team names - red tomato and green pepper. No hint of a sun-dried or chargrilled prefix there.

Born in 1994 when guacamole would never, ever have been served in a Hartlepool chip shop, the show's aim was to pep up Britain's culinary tastes with a dash of "Percy Pepper" and "Susie Salt", as chef-turned-presenter Ainsley Harriott would have it.

Within a few years, no tomato would be simply red - the nation had woken up to sun-blushed and cherry vine - and green peppers had been all but eclipsed by a rainbow coalition of red, orange and yellow varieties.

Ready Steady memories

It came along at a time when we were still a bit naive about cooking in this country. It changed people's attitudes towards food.

Suddenly we were looking at these professional guys doing something very spontaneous that only cost a certain amount of money.

As a chef, it was a real discipline. Even when I was presenter, every time they tipped the contents out of the bag I was thinking, "What would I do with that?"

Eulogies come this week from close friends, including chefs Antony Worrall Thompson and James Martin, and presenters Fern Britton and Harriott himself.

Ready Steady Cook is survived by younger sibling the Hairy Bikers - who stage a cook-off - and its glamorous older siblings Masterchef, Celebrity Masterchef, Masterchef: The Professionals and Junior Masterchef.

And its progeny include Goosey Goosey Gammon Traffic Lights 123 - the unforgettably named culinary creation of chef Harriott - along with some 5,478 other dishes in its recipe archive.

This lasting legacy will be a boon for those stuck for inspiration when the cupboard is all but bare.

Whatever to make with paneer cheese (soon to go off), dried figs and tinned kidney beans? Why, Harriott's own paneer cheese and fig skewers with bean dip, of course.

No flowers. Or canapes.

Below is a selection of your tributes

No flours.

Teegee, Belfast

It has long been my ambition to get home from work, tip some items out from a supermarket carrier bag and say "You've got 20 minutes!" Is Ainsley now available?

Sewage, Luton


Tiago Pinto, London

My son (now 11) learned to count backwards from 10 before he could count forwards, but he thought that the last two numbers were "stop" and "cooking".

Julia Dunbar, Edinburgh, Midlothian

I'm gutted. As a student in London in the 1990s with a limited budget, RSC used to be my entree into the world of semi-fine dining.

Azeem Sahu Khan, Nadi, Fiji

I can't believe it... This was the first TV show I worked on (as an editor). I can still remember how this show was put together, from every camera switch to every tightly produced segment. It trained me up in the process and formula of cutting a TV show... Rattle my pot's n pans, it'll be forever a red pepper day in my heart.

Paul Lumsden, London

When I was writing my PhD thesis in 1996 and early 1997 one of my house mates was writing his MA thesis. We would write during the day then stop to watch RSC, get the one of the recepies from ceefax, go and buy the ingredients start cooking when our other housemate got home from work and then get friends round to eat creation with us all. Happy times.

Alastair Sloan, Cardiff

I remember coming home from school and always seeing this on. Since my family didn't have satellite or cable television in the past, BBC was the only channel I watched. I'm going to miss this show so much, because it was a huge part of my childhood and it has inspired me to become a cook.

Raza Hussain, Rochdale


Martin Davies, Chorlton

My favourite was Shane Ritchie, who brought all he could buy from Devon services at 3am on the way back from a show: a packet of Rich Tea biscuits; a loaf of white bread; a pound of potatoes; an apple; a packet of teabags. The chef made him a cup of tea with two biscuits, made a chip butty, then topped it with bread-and-butter pudding with sliced apples as a garnish. Now that's really inspired with difficult ingredients.

Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

I used to come home from college and my nan was guaranteed to be watching RSC. It was a reminder I was home.

David Evans, Liverpool

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