When Sheffield watched TV cookery queen Fanny on stage

Fanny and Johnnie Cradock with one of their elaborate creations at Sheffield City Hall
Fanny and Johnnie Cradock with one of their elaborate creations at Sheffield City Hall

The queen of 1960s TV cookery Fanny Cradock and her put-upon husband Johnnie were the stars of Sheffield City Hall in September 1962.

The couple brought their Kitchen Magic live cookery show to the venue, courtesy of the East Midlands Gas Board.

Pioneering TV cooks Fanny and Johnnie Cradock doing a live demonstration at Sheffield City Hall in 1962

Pioneering TV cooks Fanny and Johnnie Cradock doing a live demonstration at Sheffield City Hall in 1962

The Sheffield Telegraph described how an audience of “over 5,000 women and a sprinkling of men watched as the couple prepared such exotic-sounding dishes as coffee bavaroise and Henry VII shoe buckles”.

No idea what a shoe buckle is, although there’s a type of crumble-topped cake called a buckle, and a bavaroise is a creamy dessert.

The finished dishes were whisked off into the auditorium by 10 hostesses so that lucky members of the audience could taste them.

The couple were assisted on stage by their young cookery pupil, John Harper. The recipes they cooked on stage had been tried out by John, to prove that they were simplicity itself to prepare.

They must have been – they knocked out 16 dishes in two hours with accompanying sauces and garnishes, using what at the time were the latest gas appliances, including two ovens, and two fridges.

They included meringues which never sank and souffles which never failed to rise.

True to type, Fanny cooked wearing a series of beautiful couture gowns and heavy jewellery and Johnnie sported a smart lounge suit complete with tie, pocket handkerchief and buttonhole, plus his trademark monocle.

This was in accordance with their ‘no apron’ policy. They declared: “Cooking is a clean and creative art, not a grubby chore.”

A member of the audience was also asked to bring a bottle of Champagne with them, to add to the upmarket feel of the event.

One of their gimmicks was to prove that you didn’t need a special pan to prepare a classic omelette, so they invited any disbelieving audience member to bring theirs along so that they could prove a point with it.

The Cradocks were hugely popular at the time, appearing on both BBC and ITV and getting ready for a Theatre of Kitchen Magic at the 1963 Ideal Home Exhibition in London.

The Sheffield show was part of a nationwide tour that proved so popular the hall could have been filled twice, said a gas board spokesman.

As the Telegraph observed at the time: “Of all the tastes Fanny and Johnnie deal with, the one they seem to be enjoying most is the taste of success.”