Clarissa Dickson Wright, the star of
Wright, who was also a guilded butcher and accredited cricket umpire, began her adult life as England's youngest barrister. She inherited a fortune upon the death of her mother but also began to drink heavily, running through her money and ending her law career. (She had been sober nearly 27 years when she died.) She turned to cooking, working professionally in various capacities, and was running a cookery bookshop in Edinburgh when she was fielded for "Two Fat Ladies." The series, which ran from 1996 to 1999 on BBC Two and on the
In 2008, on the occasion of a DVD release of the complete "Two Fat Ladies" (Acorn), I wrote, "Unlikely even at the time, unfashionably large and unfashionably old stars Clarissa Dickson Wright (about 50) and Jennifer Paterson (around 70) have [little] to do with current TV cookery, with its urgency and noise, its rock-star chefs, their flare-ups and meltdowns. (Dickson Wright and Paterson never address each other or refer to themselves as 'chef.') Oddly, the modern show with which theirs has most in common is
"They traveled the U.K. by motorcycle and sidecar, cooking for priests, singers, Boy Scouts, farm workers, aristocrats, and men who clean up after elephants. There was nothing nouvelle about their cuisine: They cooked not to challenge the palate but to satisfy cravings: To steal a phrase from Eliot, their food mixed memory and desire. The show is all bound up with history and tradition — the church, the village fair, the manor house, the family farm, the undeveloped countryside, where one might gather mushrooms as one may, and with the women's own lives, which sound increasingly exotic as the stories pile up....
"They are full of wit and facts (that Catherine the Great nearly died of eating too many artichokes on her wedding day is something I know now that I did not know yesterday), and their food is full of butter and lard and cream. Of a Danish prune and apple cake, Dickson Wright says, 'Just in case you think it sounds healthy, don't be put off by that — it's very good.'"