Where's Fanny Craddock (or Cradock!) ?

[Update, added October 2006:] my review of the BBC bio-drama about Fanny, Fear of Fanny.

When my family lived for a while in the '70s in England, my mother was given a small paperback cookbook by a neighbor. It was by Fanny and Johnny Craddock, who were television cooks on British TV in the 1950s to 1970s. (My mother told me later that she was rather shocked and amused that her neighbor had given her a used, tattered book, since such a thing would be rather unthinkable in Japan. She took it as an indication of how frugal English people were.) I was too young to watch the programs (or if I did watch them, I don't remember doing so) but much later I remember reading the book over and over and being simply fascinated by it. It had a very bossy and conversational tone, and started with a very bombastic declaration as to how awful British cooking habits were.

Unfortunately, that book got lost in the many moves various members of the family made. For the past few years, since I started to buy cookbooks for myself (or rather had the means to do so) I've been looking for a Fanny Craddock book. But...nothing. Given the current fascination with food and food writing, and the re-issue of many older cookbooks in the UK from authors like Elizabeth David, Constance Spry and even Mrs. Beeton, I'm really puzzled as to why there's been no revival of Fanny Craddock. I think I saw a brief mention of her once on Ready Steady Cook, as to how she did something wrong... but what? Does anyone in the UK know? Better yet, is there anywhere that might have her old books?

Edit: wow, someone's already kindly emailed me (thanks Julie!) that Craddock is spelled Cradock! (Though most recent media mentions of spell it Craddock...very confusing.) So now I've bid on a couple of "Fanny Cradock" books on ebay. I'll report back here after I've read them!

Filed under:  books and media tv writers

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It's Cradock with a single D, which might help your search - there are a number of used books of hers available on line.

Basically she was an appalling person, and even worse cook, but she did have flair and pizzazz and a French background. And she came along at a time when people wanted to experiment more with food. Some of her recipes are awful, she used a lot of blue and green food colouring for things like mashed potato, and was very concerned about how things looked like on the plate rather than what they tasted like. I have a treasured set of part-work magazines, and they're great to read, but I would never cook anything out of them. It's the worst possible mix of bastardised Cordon Bleu with posh ingredients, and 60s party food.

Her downfall finally came when she talked, on TV, to the winner of a national cookery contest, who had had to design a 3-course meal. She ripped the poor woman to shreds, was incredibly rude and superior, and pissed a lot of people off. Then members of her staff and family started coming out of the woodwork and saying that she couldn't actually cook for herself, that she was not far off a con-merchant, she'd lied about her family and upbringing, her house was filthy etc etc.

It's all fascinating, but she was not a Real Foodie (TM).

If you're interested in her life and times, there's quite a lot of material about her around, including this http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/2001_46_fri_04.shtml listen-again interview with 2 real British cooks and the author of a book about Fanny.

Hi, Maki,

Longtime lurker, first-time commenter here. :) I do love your page so -- such beautiful prose and photography.

I can't really add much to Julie's excellent comment about Fanny. I do remember, though, a long-defunct British food magazine called EatSoup that had a regular TV food column called Planet Cradock. I always found that kind of amusing, especially because most of the chefs and cooks profiled -- Nick Nairn, Nigel Slater, Sally Clarke, etc. -- were much, much better cooks than Fanny and Johnny. :)

There was a programme on British TV a year or two ago on TV cooks through the years. They showed some of Fanny and Johnny, which took me back a long time. Someone sent me a videocassette (I'm in Germany).
Great site - I'm glad you've been writing more again.

Hi Makiko - I live in the UK and watched the programme Margaret mentioned. I didn't know about her or Graham Kerr until then and I found it really interesting (and a little shocking too). I often hear about how awful British cooking was (and maybe still is), but I enjoy British cookery programmes nonetheless. I hope you can find her book!

I love the cultural misunderstanding about the tattered book... it was probably a sign of the British woman's high regard for your mom, since she gave her a favorite book!

Sofa, many thanks for the information about Fanny, and also the link to that radio program! It was very interesting indeed, to see what people thought of the impact she had on British cooking habits/culture/etc. Dressing in ball gowns...now I am on the search for tapes or something of her shows! (I don't think she's an icon in the U.S. as that page states, though I vaguely remember that ad.)

Bakerina, I'm glad you like this site :) I've only seen Nick Nairn on Ready Steady Cook, but I've read Nigel Slater's recipes which are pretty brilliant. It's really interesting to see how cooking in the media (on TV or as popular cookbooks) has progressed, from Fanny Cradock to Graham Kerr to the current crop.

Margaret, I'm now on the lookout for tapes of her show...I really want to see them now :)

Keiko, I do very vaguely remember the old Galloping Gourmet book..it was pretty outrageous. I think the highlight was always when he ate the food he had prepared..that dreamy, ecstatic look on his face, in extreme closeup...then cut to the audience sitting forward in their seats and drooling in envy.... it was so funny. The very health-conscious show he did in the U.S. in the '90s was so tame in comparison...

Suebob, you're probably very right about the neighbor's intentions :)

Anyway, an update on my book search: I've won a bid for 4 of the Fanny and Johnnie Cradock books on ebay (hooray for ebay!) and now I'm waiting for them to arrive. I'll report back here when I get them!

Maki, if you don't find anything, you can have this tape or borrow it. I'm going to watch it again and decide if I want to keep it.

Hmmm, how interesting that there is a comment here that says she could not cook. I have SIX volumes of printed magazines by her, have cooked LOTS of things from it and they are all pretty terrific. I have used her recipe for choux pastry for years. She debunked lots of cooking myths: for example, those recipes that tell you that you have to scoop out the uncooked dough from such choux puffs- she tells you how to avoid that completely!
I learned how to make perfect chicken kiev from pictures in her book, something I would NEVER have done otherwise. Can't cook? Piffle. But I agree, she was pretty critical of many things!
Carylton Cooper

I'm looking for any references to former British TV cook, "Philip Harpin." Can anyone give me some links to his books or info about him? Thanks!

Maki, for future reference, abe.com (or abebooks.com) is the place to go for out of print books. ExLibris is also okay, but there are mostly a wholesaler to libraries, and don't have the selection of ABE. Most used booksellers in the English-speaking world list on Amazon (for books that have ISBNs in Amazon's database) and on ABE. Some also list on other services like ExLibris.

I see a ton of Fannie's books for a buck or so listed.

hello to all,
Can you assist me here please. i will be peforming next year and am interested in trying out some fanny cradock recipes especially if she has a section on making biscuits. Is there anyone who can email me some of her recipes so i can try them out.She has recently been made known to me here in England through other people. i am currently studying acting and will like to base my performance on her recipes while talking about Breast Cancer for the charity i support. thank you i would really appreaciate this because i have not been able to find a book of hers at all and not all libraries stock her. kaite

Well i have a complete set of the Fanny and Johnnie Craddock Cookery Programme,(part works) from the 1st issue right through to issue 80 published on 23rd March 1972 all in the original five binders all in excellent condition,
I think they are fantastic


I am looking to by the part 0ne of the 1st volume
would you be interested to sell it

Hi Scott,

Since I wrote this entry I was able to get quite a few Fanny Cradock books via eBay and used booksellers, including the bound magazine series you have. I keep meaning to write a detailed article about Fanny...I should do it some day. There's so little love thrown her way, compared to other 'celebrity' cooks of the past like Elizabeth David, Julia Child, etc. OK she may not be as trendy and it seems from all accounts that she had a rather unpleasant personality, but still...

So if Fanny Crad(d)ock is so reputedly crap / rude / patronising etc, why has Gordon Ramsay chosen her as the icon for his search for a top female chef in "Find Me A Fanny"? Is he just being patronising / rude / insulting etc to female chefs by implying that they are bitchy and incompetant?

I haven't watched the F-Word but I don't think that Gordon Ramsay, despite his many faults, can be called a male chauvinist - he's hired female chefs I think in most of his restaurants, and one is a head chef at one of them. He may just have picked Fanny because she is so iconic in British television cooking. (and maybe he didn't want go with Deal me a Delia? :))

I'm guessing Gordon also got a major kick out of using the word "fanny" -- in the right (wrong?) context, in England, it's very rude.

2011....and rapidly evolving international comms exchanges.
About 1970 I hear I made a wonderful Fanny Cradock trifle. Now before I continue...I was born before WWII so know what life was like post WWII
I trained with a wonderful army chef Pocock on a City&Guilds cookery course even though I was a scientist, simply because I was getting married and it seemed a shrewd move. My husband-to- be thought giving me a copy of Mrs Beeton was not a bad idea either. I indulged in Elizabeth David's Mediterranean cookery book and best of all was Katie Stewart's Times cookery book...I parted with ED's a few years ago.Husband thought Katie Stewart must have had a very happy-looking husband!!.....I must state I love Prue Leith if just for showing me how to skin an onion and thereby earning many brownie points from me, thanks Pru!
Now I still have Cesarani&Kinton the C&G bible; Mrs B; Katie S; all very sad looking but NO ONE gets them whilst I am still alive!!...I ditched David after reading her bio and having found only her bread book useful & enlightening...She had HER agendas.
I have recently read the Fabulous Fanny Cradock book and ED's recent bio so have a pretty clear picture of each personality and how misguided the modern interpretation of the girls might be.
Remember that when they were earning a crust and learning as they went, I had great difficulty obtaining, for example, olive oil, green peppers; even yoghurt...Britain was in recovery as was most of Europe and much of the world and TV was fronted by pompous ...leave it at that!!

I must say however that thanks to the licence payers, the BBC saved video tapes for us so that our far sightedness means Fanny and Johnnie can now be You tubed.....Poor independent television engineers reprocessed their tapes so that fewer of their progammes survive and the tapes run out before the punchline, despite Fanny's best management. A sad thought she was to die alone and unloved because of her grim determination to do things her way.
Fanny could listen but seldom suffered fools gladly. I'm a pretty tough cookie myself but I hung on her every word simply because SHE KNEW WHAT SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT RE FOOD.
Several days ago an old friend on the Internet reminded me of the trifle and that set me off. I had had something delivered with the newspaper when wed whence the trifle recipe, but what?
Fanny & Johnnie Cradock's Cookery program is revealed by the Internet as what I remembered from my youth...Now selling on ebay at great expense & discontinued by me as an extravagance.. However that info took some finding because of the general confusion of how to spell Cradock (much to F's annoyance, I read|) though Fanny spelling appears to be internationally easy :-)

I don't know if I am starting anything here but let me not apologise either for my summary or for Fanny because so many memories have been stirred.

Now I have the greatest fun as comms become easier
e.g. finding new Indian recipes (wonderful to find a delightful Punjabi Samosa recipe on Youtube which Fanny would have loved as the presenter betrayed so much understanding of cookery basics translated with sensitivity) and even now wondering how I have managed to miss Hazan's Italian cookbook. For E David, quantities I believe were not the be all and end all. If I am right (waiting to see a copy of the book) Hazan feels the same....I could go on and too often do(sorry) but it is not too late to appreciate Fanny and her Johnnie..I'll end by crediting my modern Greek language teacher as one of the best cooks I've ever know but...please don't mention Italian cooks in case she sees :-)
In the interim I found I had scribbled the trifle recipe in my training cookery book which after 60+ years is pretty messy...not clean enough for a Japanese I fear.