HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Two Fat Ladies - now there is none

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oh dear, how sad to read. She certainly was larger than life with her own unique perspective. It's sad to realize she's not still beating the bushes in support of the rural life. Thanks for posting, Harters.

    1. Sad. I loved those two ladies. They were great examples of being comfortable in one's own skin.

      1. They cooked and ate with gusto and without reservation. They were both one-of-a-kind.

        1. very sad news. My mom and I always watched it together.

          1. So sad...
            I thoroughly enjoyed the bit of time I spent with her several years ago. The countryside has lost a great supporter.

            1. Thank you, Harters.

              The first show for me that showed how cooking in the UK had changed, and still had proud roots.

              1 Reply
              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                Indeed, yes. It was very much part of the revival of traditional foods with an up to date spin, thats now generally known as Modern British. Trend had started in the late 70s/early 80s.

                There's something about how the revival of our cuisine has continued to evolve. Even though the programmes were only made in the mid to late 90s, when I look at them now, they seem quite dated.

              2. Very sad

                The episode I remember the most was their "bubble and squeak" episode - they said something to the effect that you have to use lots of fat to cook it, and if you're not going to use a lot of fat then you'll just have to cook something else. I was hooked from then on . . . . .

                3 Replies
                  1. re: thimes

                    She also mentioned something to the effect that there used to be a man in her life that would do harm upon her person if she didn't make it correctly. I remember at the time hoping the comment was tongue-in-cheek, but given the stories about her father, I'm sad to think it wasn't.

                    1. re: Christina D

                      Chris, that's all together possible unfortunately, hopefully not though

                  2. Harters, thanks for putting this in. I didn't know of her passing. loved 2 Fat Ladies.

                      1. If you want a right good chuckle read the book, "Rifling Through My Drawers: My Life in a Year" by Clarissa Dickson Wright, published 17 September 2009. Every now and then it gets a little bogged down in politics but on the whole it's an insightful look into her past and what was then present.

                        1. And only 66! To me, that's young. She abused her body a lot in her early years, but lived a wonderful,interesting life, as well. Her autobiography, Spilling the Beans, is worthwhile reading. The photo of her looks like she's eating beans on toast! Great gal!

                          1. Did she die eating and drinking herself to death? The article didn't say.
                            66 is very young :(
                            That is tragic.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: sedimental

                              no idea (now that you mentioned it) what she passed from

                              1. re: iL Divo

                                Very sad news.
                                She wasn't referred to as a "fat lady" for nothing.
                                People that morbidly obese in their later years are unfortunately risking their life. Some people are built that way. So be it.
                                If there's a heaven for great people she's there. Looking for a 'fag' and a large 'G&T'.
                                I got the impression she never ate anything she didn't enjoy. Good on her!
                                Does anyone remember the comment one of them made about eating pigeons in India?

                                1. re: Puffin3

                                  yes I remember that, her father "always had his pigeons flown in from Cairo" (pronounced 'KAY-ro')

                              2. re: sedimental

                                Heard from a UK friend that Clarissa had lost a leg to the ravages of diabetes and then became desperately ill following her surgery.

                                1. re: onrushpam

                                  Be interesting to know your friend's source - there seems to be nothing on the usual online sources in the UK.

                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                      As I messaged to Harters privately, my source was a UK friend who knew Clarissa well and had spoken to another friend who was with Clarissa near the end.

                                      1. re: onrushpam

                                        so very much enjoyed her, both of them actually. they were not the typical cooks on television.
                                        if that's true about Clarissa, I'm sorry to know that.

                                2. re: sedimental

                                  I don't know...given the choice of eating and drinking and cooking with the kind of unfettered joy she did, and living to be 66; or watching every calorie and fat gram and restricting myself to whatever they're telling us this week is the prudent, healthy diet, and hanging around to 96...thanks, but I'll take Clarissa's way.

                                  (And before you say that I must be young, and I have no concept of mortality, and I'll surely change my mind when I'm older...I'm 56 now. Doubt it.)

                                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                                    I've got several years on you, and feel the same way. People are so afraid of dying that they convince themselves they can be healthy until 100 if they maintain enough activity and good nutrition when in fact, few people who reach extreme old age are still physically and mentally sound. Personally, I have no desire to outlive my mental faculties or need help to care for my bodily functions.

                                    If you've seen any excerpts from her autobiography, though, you'll know that there was little joy in the first two thirds of her life. She went through a lot of inflicted and self-inflicted suffering. It's nice that she eventually found fulfillment, and was again financially comfortable after wasting her considerable inheritance.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      My mom should meet you. She's in her min-50s, watching every calorie and sodium gram and trying to convince the family that the inedible crap we have each meal is good for our health. She doesn't have any disease now but she's not healthy, always looking like a wind could blow her away. You said it right, I don't know many people who live to an advanced age and are still physically and mentally sound. Frankly speaking, most just live through frailness and weariness.

                                3. If I go and stand in front of my stove with my copy of "Two Fat Ladies" in hand, I'm pretty sure I can hear Clarissa and Jennifer roaring with laughter at being together again.

                                  Thanks for the laughter and the food, ladies.

                                  1. Obituary: Chef and food writer Clarissa Dixon Wright dies


                                    As the Brits would say, one of the most delightful obituaries I've ever read . . .

                                    1. Sorry to hear about her passing. They were entertaining to watch, but did anyone outside of Britain ever make one of their recipes? I didn't.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Antilope

                                        I suspect that, within the UK, their food would have been something of a niche market.

                                        As I suggested upthread their dishes were part of the evolving nature of British cuisine. However, whilst the food had its basis in tradition, the dishes couldnt be said to be traditional. Yet, they were not sufficiently adapted to be thought of as part of the Modern British cuisine. Difficult to know where to place them - perhaps that was part of their appeal.

                                        By the by, their recipe for devilled kidneys is pretty much on the money for a traditional preparation. And damn tasty as well. That said, it's a recipe you can pretty easily find elsewhere but I think the benefit of their series and books is that it reminds of dishes that you've stopped cooking and need to restart. That's one -although I could never take to it as a breakfast dish, it makes a fine starter

                                        1. re: Antilope

                                          I found most of their recipes unusual and foreign to me. most, nothing I'd seen or heard of but that was some of the charm. those long red nails, the humor between the two gals, so fun to watch and so different from other cooking shows.

                                          1. re: Antilope

                                            When the series had its original run, we made Robert May's Salmon for a dinner party. It was excellent. We made it with blood oranges, I remember, simply because they were in season and thought it would be a good use for them.

                                            I still occasionally grate some nutmeg on salmon because of that recipe.

                                            1. Wow check out her full name:
                                              She was christened Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright.

                                              Also she was only 1 of 2 women to be a guild butcher. Extraordinary!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: charlesbois

                                                Eleven names - enough for a football team.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  Or, a litter of greyhounds! I have friends with a litter on the way and I think they're going to use Clarissa's names for them. :-)

                                                2. re: charlesbois

                                                  loved reading that part, who knew a name could have so many followers....................

                                                3. So sorry to hear of her passing. I remember when Jennifer passed as well. I wish they ran past episodes more often, I never seem to catch them anymore. Last time was several years ago on Travel channel maybe? I had it on and my now-husband actually became engrossed in the episode. I think it was of Clarissa shooting game, lol! I knew then he was a keeper!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: bugablue13

                                                    The entire series of 4 discs is available on Netflix. At the end of the 4th disc is the special tribute to Jennifer that was produced after she passed. I trust the BBC will film one for Clarissa as well.

                                                    1. re: bugablue13

                                                      ...........she had soooo many talents.

                                                    2. Sorry to hear of her passing, I enjoyed watching them both on PBS

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: dolly52

                                                        Are you sure about PBS? Food Network showed them, and Cooking Channel has run through the series a couple of times since it started.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          When I was a kid it broadcast here in Toronto on pubs. I remember being fascinated, it was the first cooking show I ever enjoyed watching. RIP Clarissa.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            They were on PBS Friday nights, at least in NYC, late 90's, maybe 2000 or so. We didn't have cable in those days, and it was our first chance to see them. The entire family would gather around the TV every Friday night...we really loved that show.

                                                        2. "Although Ms. Dickson Wright had been in Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary since early this year, her death came after a sudden illness and its cause was not disclosed, said her friend and literary agent Heather Holden-Brown."

                                                          There is a little more information in this obituary but no mention of her brother to whom her father left the landed estate where her carriage house residence is located. She mentions this in her partial autobiography "Rifling through My Draws".


                                                          1. So sorry to hear of this. I immensely enjoyed their shows and their gusto for all things heralding British food. I often wished I could be in the kitchen with them.

                                                            Well, at least I have my old Mason Cash mixing bowls and puddings to feel like I'm with them in spirit.

                                                            Bless you, TFL.

                                                            1. This is so sad - I loved to watch the show and now I watch the DVDs a few times each year. My favorite episode is the one where they eat bacon sandwiches on a bridge, The world is a drabber places with no Fat Ladies.

                                                              1. Thought some of you might like to read this post about Clarissa from the Countryside Alliance newsletter:
                                                                Following her death on 15th March, the funeral of cook, author and countryside champion Clarissa Dickson Wright was held in Edinburgh this week. Hundreds came to pay their respects at St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral in the city centre and the tributes paid to her were fulsome. Clarissa's sister placed a home-made Viking hat onto her coffin, saying she had always wanted a Viking burial, and the funeral wreath featured, most appropriately, some of Clarissa's favourite ingredients, including red chilli peppers, sage, artichoke and sprouting broccoli. Countryside Alliance Board Member and great friend of Clarissa, Sally Merison, was among the speakers and read AE Housman's "Home is the Sailor" ("Home is the sailor from the sea, The hunter from the hill.") Sally also offered the Huntsman's blessing and as Clarissa's coffin left the Cathedral Rory Innes, Master and Huntsman of the Berwickshire, blew Gone Away.

                                                                Clarissa is pictured (above) on the Liberty & Livelihood March in September 2002. Always one to speak up for the countryside, she did so with huge enthusiasm on a number of occasions across the country. At demonstrations, when signing her books on our show stands, (including the Hampshire Country Sports Day, her favourite) and bringing the house down with her wickedly funny observations during after dinner speeches, Clarissa's warmth and passion touched many. We want to do justice to her legacy with a tribute in our summer magazine, and invite all those who met her to send us their memories, photos and favourite one-liners from the great lady. Camilla Swift has already identified eight classic 'Clarrisa-isms' in her Spectactor column (click here to read - no punches are pulled, a taster is 'Supermarkets are the gates of hell.')

                                                                During the funeral Clarissa's friend Charles Fletcher observed that many have said "we won't see her like again". "God, I hope we do", he said, pointing out that we need "more members of the awkward squad" to get things done. Carrying on Clarissa's legacy in campaigning for the rural way of life is our particular privilege, and we will be happy to hear from you, fellow members of the awkward squad, on your memories of her.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: onrushpam

                                                                  Thank you, much appreciated. Do you perchance have a list of the rest of the Clarissa-isms, or a link to the Spectator column? TIA

                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                    On the title of Two Fat Ladies:

                                                                    ‘People used to say, don’t you object to the title? And I said, well there are two of us. I had problems with ‘ladies’ because it sounds like a public convenience. But which bit do you object to? Are you saying I’m thin?’

                                                                    On the RSPCA:

                                                                    The RSPCA: ‘leaves a bitter taste in the mouth…They have got plenty of money. I think that it would do them no harm if people stopped donating and told them why they had stopped to see if they changed their threatening policies. Now they spend money… prosecuting hunts, prosecuting people who they think are trapping foxes, people who are keeping out rabbits. They are not concentrating on what they should be doing, on what they do well.’

                                                                    On supermarkets:

                                                                    ‘Supermarkets are the gates of hell.’

                                                                    On turning down an offer to front a supermarket campaign:

                                                                    ‘I used to say that all I had left in life was my integrity and my cleavage. Now it’s just my integrity.’

                                                                    On threats from animal rights campaigners:

                                                                    ‘We have all got to die sometime. If you don’t stand up, what’s that quote: “For evil to prevail it only takes honest men to do nothing”. A lot of people don’t stand up for principles now. I believe we should fight for what we believe in. If you don’t, it’s cowardice. If I put my life at risk, so what?’

                                                                    ‘The best way to stop a rare breed pig from dying is to eat it.’

                                                                    On bankruptcy:

                                                                    ‘Bankruptcy is like losing your virginity – it doesn’t hurt the next time.’

                                                                    On happiness:

                                                                    ‘I would rather eat a cream cake than take Prozac. The only thing that stimulates the serotonin in the body is animal fat. I’m quite sure that the increase in anti-depressants is related to our decrease in eating animal fat.’

                                                                    Link to the whole article: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/camilla-...

                                                                    And, just for you, greygarious, an excerpt from one of Clarissa's books, about her favorite greyhound:

                                                                2. Very cool news from the Countryside Alliance:

                                                                  A special Clarissa Dickson Wright Award was also presented in memory of the TV cook and champion of the countryside. The recipient of the award, created to recognise strong animal husbandry, support slow and artisan food and protect farming heritage, was chosen by Clarissa before her death. It was won by Peter and Christine Gott, who run Sillfield Farm in Gatebeck in the Lake District, and sell meat from wild boar, rare breed pigs, Herdwick sheep and rare breed poultry. www.sillfield.co.uk

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: onrushpam

                                                                    Sillfield are a well known company, appearing at farmers markets in the north west and also do some mail order. I think they actually now concentrate on selling the pork, rather than other meats - which is a shame as the meat from Herdwick sheep is the most flavoursome I know.

                                                                  2. I think the charm was they were like two eccentric aunts dithering in the kitchen, gently chiding and trading soft insults and generous compliments. felt like family is supposed to. sad it was found on TV and not at home.

                                                                    1. Her mention of the wild days early in her alcoholism when she was young and good looking made me curious. This is a picture of CDW in 1968, around the time she is reported (by herself) to have had sex with an MP behind the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Commons.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: ennuisans

                                                                          Thank you for the link. It led me to some other clips of Clarissa and Jennifer that covered things NOT included in the TV series. I recommend her lengthy conversation on The Mind of the Maker, in which she discusses her descent into, and climb out of, alcohol abuse, and the importance of her religious faith.