Food and Drink’s Michael Barry dies

The “crafty cook” has passed away aged 69


Michael Barry, remembered by millions as a presenter on BBC2’s long-running culinary series Food and Drink, has died following a short illness, aged 69.


Between 1984 and 2001, chef Barry was the “food” to wine experts Oz Clarke and Jilly Goolden’s “drink”. Known as the “crafty cook”, he also wrote 29 cookery books.

On hearing the news, Goolden said, “I’m shocked and saddened by the death of my old colleague and friend, with whom I worked happily for 17 years on Food and Drink.

“His approach to cooking was fresh and practical, he definitely preferred to be called a cook and not a chef.

“I considered him a close friend and will miss him.”

Born Michael Bukht, he became a household name on Food and Drink under the pseudonym Barry. But less well known was his successful career behind the scenes in TV and radio.

Starting as a BBC trainee in 1963, Barry was initially involved in radio drama, followed by the soap Mrs Dale’s Diary. A move to TV saw him working with presenters Cliff Michelmore, Alan Whicker and Brian Redhead on the Tonight programme.

Aged just 25, he became programme controller for radio and television at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, later moving to London’s Capital Radio before becoming programme controller for the GWR radio group. 

Barry went on to co-found Classic FM. He was programme controller there until 1997, when he was forced to step down due to a stress-related illness.


Barry leaves his wife, actor and dancer Jennie Jones, a son and three daughters.