Delia Smith, one of the nation’s best-loved TV chefs, has announced her retirement from television after 40 years on the box.
The 71-year-old presenter and author said the pressure to “entertain” on TV, rather than simply pass on cooking wisdom, had prompted her to ditch the medium and concentrate on internet tutorials. She will launch the Delia Online Cookery School later this month.
“This is the future for me and the population. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s better than television or live demonstration. It’s miles ahead. If you do a TV programme now, it’s got to entertain,” Smith said yesterday. “When I started, there was further education in the BBC; now you have to entertain. You have someone telling me I haven’t got time to show this, or I haven’t got time to show that.”
Until last month Smith was, along with Heston Blumenthal, the face of premium supermarket chain Waitrose – an arrangement that was ended by mutual agreement. “As soon as my Waitrose contract ended,” Smith said, “the BBC called me up and said: ‘What can we do?’ And I said: ‘No, thank you.’ I am afraid to say this is the end when it comes to Delia on the telly.”
Smith was a pioneering TV chef, finding fame in the 1970s and reaching a peak in the late 90s and early 00s with the How to Cook series. Her eponymous 2008 series, which championed the use of frozen and tinned ingredients, was however less well received.
This is not the first time Smith has retired from television: she made a virtually identical announcement in 2003 (“Now people want to be entertained, whereas I was trying to teach how to cook… I’ve had enough”) but later reconsidered.
Smith’s new book, Delia’s Cakes, is published later this month.