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29 October 2014

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Delia Smith shares her joy for Norwich City
Delia Smith shares her Norwich City joy

An audience with Delia Smith

She's a best-selling cookery author, television chef and a majority shareholder at Norwich City Football Club. She's a household name - but just how well do you know Delia Smith?

Delia Smith is a Norfolk legend. Together with her husband Michael Wynn-Jones, she's been hailed as the saviour of Norwich City Football Club after the couple invested millions of their own cash to save the Carrow Road squad from bankruptcy. 

Often described as the UK's favourite TV chef, Delia's been sharing her culinary knowledge with us for more than 30 years.

After becoming a cookery writer in the 1960s she was soon presenting her own series on BBC One with her easy-to-follow methods and enthusiasm for simple home cooking.

In 2003 she announced she was giving up TV to concentrate on her passion for football, but is still writing hugely successful books that continue to sell millions of copies.

Delia and Michael visited BBC Radio Norfolk on Thursday, 29 March, 2007.

In an interview with Chris Goreham and Karen Buchanan, they talked about life with the Canaries, who does the cooking at home and if Delia will ever return to our TV screens.

How did you get into football?

Michael: I went to my first Norwich game in 1953 with my dad. He was the vicar of Harleston for many years but his second love after the church was football.

Those were the days when you'd get 40,000 in a ground and you literally couldn't move. Then I met Delia in 1969, and that's when she saw her first match.

Delia: The first football match Michael took me to was a home international. I did like football before I met Michael, but only on the television. I'd never been to a live match. 

Michael and Delia at BBC Radio Norfolk
Michael and Delia at BBC Radio Norfolk

It was England playing Northern Ireland: so I saw the England World Cup squad and I saw the Northern Ireland squad with George Best at Wembley.

Where are the nicest people in football?

Delia: Barnsley and Birmingham. The people and the board directors at Birmingham are lovely, very warm and welcoming, they're very special. 

Barnsley are such a lovely football club... Norwich City relegated them once and as we left in the coaches they all lined the streets and cheered us. They were so nice.

Michael: We had a record number of coaches going there, an endless procession. The Barnsley supporters in the car park were actually clapping, it was incredible.

Delia: But there's lots of warm hospitality in boardrooms, especially in the Championship.

How do you feel when the opposition fans sing abusive things about you?

Delia: I can take it as fun.

Sometimes, even if it's not about me, there is a meanness in some supporters' chants and I think sometimes it's unnecessary. But when there's humour in it, I don't mind. 

I think our supporters can give as good as they get and even when we're being thrashed, they come up with the most wonderful things.

If some money from abroad was offered to Carrow Road, is that something you'd consider?

Delia: Never, never, never.

I think football has been sold down the line for a few people who've made a lot of money and I think the national game is a symptom of what's really wrong.

When you watch an England game, we're seeing the results. If you look at who Steve McClaren has to choose from, most of the Premiership clubs have foreign footballers.

So all that money that came in, went to one small group of football clubs and then goes back out to Europe to buy players, while in our country football festers and is in serious trouble.

We have to ask about your trademark yellow and green scarf that you wear to every game. How long have you had that?

Delia: I've had that since I became a board director. There's a lady who goes to our church in Stowmarket and I asked her if she'd knit me a scarf, but I didn't know she was going to make one that long!

Delia Smith celebrates with Norwich City
Celebrating a love of Norwich City

But it's lovely, I just absolutely love it. I'm not superstitious but I do want to wear Norwich colours, I would panic if I went to a match without Norwich colours. 

Once we went to Blackpool and I'd forgotten my scarf. One of the supporters gave me theirs because I was so distressed.

What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

Michael: Well, I'm a Beatles man myself. Beatles and Mozart.

Delia: I'm a '60s fan, but one of the enduring pop singers, who I still like, is Kate Bush. Her new album is the latest CD I've bought and it's on in my car at the moment.

It's like listening to abstract art, it's sort of a mystery, but I still think she's got a great talent.

Who does the cooking at home?

Michael: I don't do all the cooking, but I've got really stuck into it now.

Delia writes all her recipes in long hand and I'm one of the few people who can read it, so I've spent 40 years typing them up. And you can't do that without something rubbing off.

I learnt in theory how to make a white sauce and when you actually try it, it works! I do like doing the Sunday lunches. I can't eat Sunday lunch without a pint of gravy so I make absolutely sure that there is when I'm in charge.

What would be your perfect day off?

Delia: Sundays are our days off, we don't accept any invitations or go anywhere on a Sunday. So we'll read the papers, have a nice lunch, watch a football match on TV and then watch some television drama in the evening.

We like watching television and it's funny because people tend to look down their noses at that, but we really do. My idea of telly-heaven is some really good drama.

When are you going to be back on TV?

Delia: All I can say is, there's nothing specific at the moment, but never say never.

My agent and I said we weren't going to do any more unless something juicy comes along. And if it does, maybe.

I really can't say anything at the moment, I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but there's lots of things bubbling around. 

last updated: 24/05/07
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