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Paper Monitor

10:58 UK time, Monday, 17 August 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If there's one thing we want to know in these troubled times, it's Richard Madeley's pulling secrets. Not that he's on the market, of course. But he was once, so what tactics did he employ?

A revealing article in yesterday's Mail on Sunday by one of Madeley's former colleagues on the East London Advertiser blows the gaff. (Excuse the argot, but this was 1974, and as the author of the article, Lyn Olley, remarks, the whole era now seems like a slice of Life on Mars.)

A young single Madeley asks Olley for advice on getting a girlfriend. Olley suggests inviting someone home for dinner - cheaper than a restaurant, which was a factor for someone earning just £15 a week.

"There's just one problem," Madeley admitted. "I can't cook." Olley tries to think of a recipe easy enough for someone who can't cook, and comes up with a tuna casserole. "I explained that the beauty of it was that no fresh ingredients were required, everything was cheap and could be bought in advance and left in the cupboard. This was a massive plus for a budding Lothario who couldn't even be certain of enticing his date home."

So here's your cut-out-and-on-no-account-keep recipe.

  • Drain two tins of tuna, and flake it into a dish.
  • Add two tins of condensed creamy mushroom soup, with half a tin of water.
  • Add some frozen peas, and mix.
  • Open a large packet of salt and vinegar crisps, and spread them on top of the dish, the put into the oven for 30 minutes. The bottom layer of crisps should absorb some of the casserole liquid and go soggy, while those on top should remain crispy.

So the million dollar question - did it work?

"A couple of weeks later Richard caught me in the office," Olley writes. "'Love that menu, Lyn, love it!' he said, and judging by the silly grin on his face, I knew exactly what he meant."

On second thoughts, if anyone is brave enough to try to bake their own tuna casserole - for the sake of historical re-enactment purposes - then please be our guest. And if you live to tell the tale, then let us know about it in the usual manner. Of particular interest will be the extent to which the bottom layer of crisps goes soggy and the upper remains crisp and whether, as Olley alleges, the result is delicious. The comments field is, by the way, open for discussion of this matter.


  • Comment number 1.

    Do I detect a slightly condescending attitude to tuna casserole by paper monitor?

    An even cheaper and easy to cook meal is tuna in a casserole dish, covered by a layer of baked beans with a layer of crisps (I prefer plain) on top. And yes, some crisps go soggy and some get even more crispy.

    I suspect these recipes originated with parents brought up in post-war austerity, when tuna was considered a luxury.


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