My love of cookery shows goes back to when I was about five years old, thanks to my mum who was a huge fan of any program that showed you how and what to cook. She would watch every single one religiously and would sit there making notes. As a result, I developed an interest in them too.
My absolute favourite – of which I still have fond memories – is the iconic (in my opinion at least) Farmhouse Kitchen. This was a cookery series made by Yorkshire Television and broadcast by ITV during weekday afternoons. I used to watch it with Mum when I returned home from school. The show was aimed at housewives and homemakers and provided demonstrations of well-known, traditional British fare long before anyone had ever heard of sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and salted caramel.
Farmhouse Kitchen was first shown in 1971 and ran until 1989. It was originally presented by Dorothy Sleightholme until her sad demise in a car accident. Grace Mulligan then took over as the show’s host. There were also occasionally guest cooks which included Pauline Sykes and the queen of cakes herself, Mary Berry. Viewers were even invited to write in with their own recipes which were then (if selected) demonstrated for the viewing public.
If ever there was such a thing as comfort food television, then this would be it. No fuss, no frills, no obscure ingredients; just simple and inexpensive old-fashioned home cooking. There was something so warm and homely about Farmhouse Kitchen from the country style kitchen to the presenters to the very melodic theme tune. In fact every time I hear that theme tune, it takes me back… It contains a kind of nostalgic 1970s charm and was aptly called ‘Fruity Flute’ and was played by The Reg Wale Group.
I know that times change and nothing lasts forever but I can’t help but compare this legendary show to cooking programs today where the food and art of cooking sometimes takes second place to cultivating a celebrity image and television career for the chef. And let’s not even get started on the expletives used by certain unnamed chefs and celebrity cooks in a bid to look, I don’t know, cool? Because I don’t think cool, funny or entertaining when I hear it. Just get on with showing us how to cook!
It’s a shame that Farmhouse Kitchen isn’t repeated or that there’s anything that remotely resembles it but no doubt if there was the majority of viewers would consider it quaint and outdated – which I suppose goes to show that I like quaint and outdated! Books were available which accompanied the series and I would love to buy a copy.
Here’s that delightful theme tune (the theme had been revamped although judging by some of the comments I’ve read, it would appear that most people preferred the original.) I could listen to it all day and never tire of it. Bliss!