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Ready Steady Cook!

Cookery shows have become a popular mainstay of our television screens in recent years, but many people regard Ready Steady Cook as the original programme dedicated to cooking. With its simple format, exuberant host and competitive streak that saw two teams battle it out to become the winner, it's easy to see why Ready Steady Cook became an instant success.

Ainsley Harriet

© Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo



Ready Steady Cook first graced our television screens back in 1994, when Fern Britton was at the helm of this BBC daytime telly programme. After six years as presenter, Fern hung up her apron and handed the reins over to celebrity chef, Ainsley Harriott. Ainsley presented the show for the next ten years, when the programme went from a 30-minute slot to 45 minutes.



What made Ready Steady Cook such a watchable programme was that it was entertaining, easy to follow and the cooking was done in real time. This meant audiences were privy to watching both the culinary successes as well as the flops!

The programme consisted of two teams - the green pepper and the red tomato. Each team was made up of a member of the public and a celebrity chef, such as Anthony Worrall Thompson, James Martin, Phil Vickery or Aldo Zilli.

The celebrity chef would be presented with a motley crew of ingredients, usually bought at a budget of £5. They would then be tasked with creating dishes from the ingredients within the space of 20 minutes. Halfway through cooking, the chef could pick out a further mystery ingredient, which would either work in their favour, or sometimes not!

Other variations included selecting ingredients with higher or lower budgets, as well as a lucky dip bag.

The audience would get to decide which team was the winner, by holding up a card with a tomato or pepper on it.


Celebrity version

So popular was Ready Steady Cook that a celebrity version was made, with stars such as David Tennant, Kate Winslet, Cliff Richard, Fiona Bruce and Twiggy all putting in an appearance.

The show also aired Christmas and birthday specials, as well as a programme in aid of Sports Relief.



Ready Steady Cook was a big hit with audiences where it enjoyed viewer ratings of over three million at its peak. Charismatic Ainsley Harriott livened up the show as he flitted between the two teams, sampling the dishes as they were being prepared, and coming up with memorable catchphrases such as 'Sally Salt' and 'Percy Pepper'.

With almost 2,000 episodes aired over 21 series, Ready Steady Cook earned the title of the UK's longest running cooking programme. It even enjoyed success overseas - the programme was sold to 25 countries around the globe.

Despite the popularity of Ready Steady Cook, audience numbers started to wane, and when figures reached a low of just 1.5 million, it was decided to axe the show in 2010. Although various formats had been introduced over the years, producers felt that the show had run its course and went as far as it could.



Despite Ready Steady Cook being off our screens for almost a decade, fans will be pleased to know that Ainsley Harriott and resident chef James Martin have been cooking up plans to revive the once much-loved iconic television programme. They believe that the unique format of the show, its easy-to-follow formula and real-time cooking still appeals to audiences today – in fact, some might say it has all the right ingredients to make a winning come back!

If Ready Steady Cook has inspired you to get busy in the kitchen, put safety and comfort at the top of your ingredients list and choose Coruba's high-quality kitchen rubber matting.

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