Delia Smith

Delia left school at 16 with no qualifications and worked as a trainee hairdresser, then a shop assistant and later at a travel agency. At age 21, she spent time washing up in a restaurant, and this experience piqued her interest in cooking. However, she says it was when a boyfriend kept praising his former girlfriend's talents in the kitchen that she got fed up and started cooking seriously.

Delia studied English cookery books at the British Museum to find inspiration for cooking meals for family and friends, with mixed success. One of her first television experiences was as an assistant on a food advertisement. When someone dropped a pie just before filming began, she volunteered to make the replacement. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, Delia has spent more than 45 years showing the British public how to cook. She is one of the leading modern authorities on good basic cooking and is immensely popular and trusted: supermarkets report ‘the Delia effect’ whenever she recommends a product.