Delia Smith honoured by special Bafta award at tribute event

Delia Smith Delia Smith was described as "one of the most influential voices in television cookery" at the Bafta ceremony in London

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Delia Smith has won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) special award at a tribute event.

The celebrity cook was honoured for her contribution to television cookery and services to broadcasting at A Bafta Tribute: Delia Smith on Tuesday night.

Guests at the ceremony heard she had been a pioneer of cookery programmes.

Smith, 71, who lives in Suffolk and is joint majority shareholder of Norwich City FC, said winning the award was a "great privilege".

Start Quote

It is unlikely that Jamie, Nigella, Gordon, The Hairy Bikers... would have happened without her contribution”

End Quote Andrew Newman Bafta

Andrew Newman, chair of Bafta's television committee, said: "Delia Smith is one of the most influential voices in television cookery and has played an important role in not only pioneering the genre in television but also shaping the perception of cooking in the nation's consciousness.

"Delia was the first TV cook to be recognised by her first name alone and her achievements have paved the way for today's cooking programmes and formats.

'Hard, hard labour'

"It is unlikely that Jamie (Oliver), Nigella (Lawson), Gordon (Ramsay), The Hairy Bikers and much-loved competitions such as The Great British Bake Off or Masterchef would have happened without her contribution."

Speaking about her 40-year career, Smith said: "I think the most rewarding and satisfying thing is meeting the people who use the recipes, reading their letters - well, now their emails - but that's always rewarding when you realise you are actually reaching people through this wonderful medium called television.

Delia Smith in 1973 Delia Smith began her TV career on cookery show Family Fare

"At the moment we're starting from scratch and doing exactly the same thing online, and we've got Delia Online cookery school and that's my passion at the moment, to try and reach younger people who have not had any lessons and try and teach them the basics.

"It's always hard, hard labour. There's no other way around it. If it's going to be good, it's going to be hard, so no surprises there."

Smith began her TV career in 1973 as presenter of a new BBC One series called Family Fare.

Her first cookery book, How to Cheat at Cooking, had been published in 1971 and, several books later, she approached the BBC with the idea for their first televised cookery course.

The result, Delia Smith's Cookery Course Part One, was broadcast in 1978, followed by Part Two in 1980 and Part Three in 1981.

Her later series for the BBC have included One is Fun in 1991, Delia's How to Cook, which ran for three series between 1998 and 2002, and Delia's Classic Christmas, which gained an audience of nearly four million in December 2009, and marked her first Christmas programme for nearly 20 years.

She has sold more than 21 million books worldwide.

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