Clarissa Dickson Wright, the unlikely television star who shook up the food world from a motorcycle sidecar, died Saturday. Wright, half of the "Two Fat Ladies," a series that featured Wright and co-host Jennifer Patterson touring the English countryside cooking and dispensing pithy comments, was 66 and "hadn't been well for a while" according to her agents.
Trained as a lawyer, Wright struggled with alcoholism for many years before reinventing herself as a culinary icon. She was discovered by the BBC while she was running a cookbook store in London and writing a recipe column.
Paired with Patterson, who died in 1999 at age 71, they were an unlikely success. According to the British newspaper the Telegraph, when the program debuted in 1996, Victor Lewis Smith in the London Evening Standard referred to the women's "uncompromising physical ugliness" and "thoroughly ugly personalities."
Nevertheless, they attracted millions of viewers in their first BBC season and that number only grew when the Food Network picked them up for American broadcast in 1997. The series ran four seasons until the death of Patterson.
The "ladies" were renowned as much for their frank manner as their cooking ability. Among Wright's more colorful pronouncements: "Of course I've eaten horse. And on many occasions too. Even today, if you buy salami, you may well be eating horse or donkey."
And on not eating at Food Network stablemate Jamie Oliver's restaurants: "I don't want to be poisoned."