R.I.P. Ready Steady Cook

Ready Steady Cook audience judge the cook-off
Image caption 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.

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.

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.

Around the BBC