TV's Clarissa Dickson Wright dies

This Is Lancashire: Clarissa Dickson Wright, one of TV's Two Fat Ladies, has died aged 66 Clarissa Dickson Wright, one of TV's Two Fat Ladies, has died aged 66

Former TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright has died at the age of 66, her agents said today.

The star, best known as one of the culinary duo Two Fat Ladies, died at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary on Saturday.

Her agents, Heather Holden-Brown and Elly James, said: "Loved dearly by her friends and many fans all over the world, Clarissa was utterly non-PC and fought for what she believed in, always, with no thought to her own personal cost.

"Her fun and laughter, extraordinary learning and intelligence, will be missed always, by so many of us."

The broadcaster and food writer shot to fame with Jennifer Paterson, who died, after being diagnosed with cancer, in 1999, at the age of 71.

The duo travelled around in a motorbike and sidecar in the BBC series, which enjoyed success around the world.

Spokeswoman Ms James said Dickson Wright "hadn't been well for a little while" and had been in hospital since the beginning of the year.

Dickson Wright initially enjoyed a career as a barrister.

She and Paterson were put together for a BBC series in 1996, by producer Patricia Llewellyn.

She discovered Dickson Wright working in an Edinburgh cookery bookshop and decided to introduce her to Paterson, who said she had never had a cookery lesson.

Dickson Wright was known for being outspoken, and recently hit the headlines when she suggested that Britons should eat badgers.

''It would solve the problem. There's going to be a cull, so rather than just throw them in the landfill site, why not eat them?'' she said.

Her career as a young barrister at Gray's Inn was brought to an abrupt end by her well-documented battle with alcohol, which she wrote about in her 2007 autobiography Spilling The Beans.

She went on to work as a cook in a West End private club and in private houses, and wrote books including A History Of English Food in 2011.

Her agent said in a statement that her forthcoming birthday on June 24 would have marked her 27th anniversary of "no drinking", "a birthday which meant much more to her than another year on the clock".

She was also installed as Rector of the University of Aberdeen in 1999.

A university spokeswoman said: "We are saddened to learn of the death of Clarissa Dickson Wright. She brought her individualism and style to many University of Aberdeen events - including the creation of a medieval feast in support of student hardship funds.

"Our former Rector was very popular with the student body, bringing to this role an incisiveness which reflected her former career as a barrister."

Llewellyn, who brought Dickson Wright together with Paterson to create Two Fat Ladies paid tribute to her.

"I first met Clarissa when she decided to launch a one woman campaign to get the cardoon back on to the British dining table. The cardoon is a prickly vegetable (an edible thistle), and not immediately loveable, but wonderful when you get to know it - it couldn't have found a better champion", said Llewellyn, who also discovered Jamie Oliver and created Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

"Clarissa was a marvellous cook and hugely knowledgable about food and food history. She was possessed of a formidable intelligence, and held strong opinions, a powerful combination that made her a commanding presence on television.

"She had a fiery temper. We called her 'Krakatoa' on location, because if you didn't notice the rumbling you could find yourself in trouble. She was a force of nature and a true character, someone who knew how to tell a great story and had a fabulous sense of humour.

"She was a kind, generous and loyal friend. I will miss her terribly, as will people all over the world who loved her television programmes, her food and her passion."

Dickson Wright, who became one of only two women in England to become a guild butcher, recently said that she was proud of her achievements.

"I've had a fantastic life and I've done everything I could have wanted to do and more", she said.

While recovering from alcohol abuse, she managed the Books For Cooks shop in London's Notting Hill, and also ran her own catering business and worked on a yacht in the Caribbean.

She was christened Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright.

Her father was a brilliant surgeon but an alcoholic.

Dickson Wright later described "taking cover" when he was very drunk and "extremely violent".

Although her childhood was in St John's Wood, north London, where pigeons were flown in from Cairo for the family's meals and she ate caviar, Dickson Wright became a keen supporter of the Countryside Alliance.

Her agent said that her Catholic faith "remained with her, in her own personal way, for the rest of her life, a life lived fearlessly and with conviction".

She said: "Only a couple of weeks before her death, she was ringing friends asking them to check the (very occasional) general knowledge crossword clue she was struggling with".

Dickson Wright rode in the sidecar of Paterson's motorcycle as the pair travelled the UK in the BBC2 series.

Edinburgh chef Tony Singh, who has appeared on shows including Ready Steady Cook and Great British Menu, said: " Clarissa will be sorely missed.

"Her fun, feistiness and love for what she liked to cook and teach people about is what good food and great hospitality should be about."

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