Delia Smith returns with new cookery show

Delia Smith is returning to television six years after she announced she was hanging up her apron.

In a new series to be screened in the first half of next year, the doyenne of television cookery programmes will show viewers how to cut corners without compromising on quality, in an update of her first cookery book, How To Cheat At Cooking, published in 1971. The series will also show, for the first time, Smith's personal life, including her passion for football and her strong faith.

At the end of the third series of How To Cook in 2002, Smith said she was retiring from the small screen, complaining that a new breed of cookery shows served only to entertain rather than teaching the basics of cookery. "I'm quite old now – I want to quit while the going is good," she said at the time, adding: "Now people want to be entertained, whereas I was trying to teach how to cook, that's where it's different."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "It's going to be something we've not done before with Delia, showing how to cut corners, but not cut corners on quality or taste. We're also going to show her life beyond the kitchen. It's great that she's coming back and it's showing more of her life than ever before," the spokeswoman added.

The new series follows in the footsteps of Nigella Lawson, whose latest BBC2 series Nigella Express also focuses on fast and easy recipes and gives glimpses of the presenter's family life.

Supermarkets will be bracing themselves for the "Delia effect". Demand was so great after she revealed her recipe for cranberry sauce in the approach to Christmas 1995 that there was a nationwide shortage of the berries, while an episode in which she made omelettes led to a run on omelette pans.

Anthony Worrall Thompson once described Smith as the Volvo of British cooking, safe but dull, but her reliable no-frills recipes, including a step-by-step guide to how to boil an egg have sold 15million books.

After leaving school at 16 with no qualifications, Smith worked as a trainee hairdresser, a shop assistant and at a travel agency, before studying cookery books at the British Museum encouraged her to test recipes on family and friends.

In 1969, she began to write a column for the Daily Mirror's magazine and later wrote for the London Evening Standard. Her first BBC cookery show, Family Fare ran from 1973 to 1975. Teaching cookery to combat the increasing tendency towards fast food and ready meals has always been at the heart of her philosophy. Smith prides herself on testing her recipes over and over again with the aid of a team of assistants to be absolutely certain they work.

Aside from her cookery, Smith is also known for her faith. At the age of 22, she converted to Catholicism, and she has written three religious books.

Perhaps more famously, Smith and her husband, Michael Wynn Jones, are majority shareholders in Norwich City Football Club. When Smith announced her temporary retirement from television in 2003, she explained she wanted to devote more time to the Canaries, as the Norwich football team is known.

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