Entertainment & Arts

Food and Drink's Michael Barry dies at 69

Chris Kelly, Jilly Goolden, Oz Clarke and Michael Barry
Image caption Barry (right) fronted Food and Drink alongside Chris Kelly and wine experts Jilly Goolden and Oz Clarke

Michael Barry, known to millions of viewers as a chef on BBC Two's long-running series Food and Drink, has died after a short illness at the age of 69.

Barry fronted the show alongside Chris Kelly and wine experts Jilly Goolden and Oz Clarke from 1984 until it came to an end in 2001.

Goolden paid tribute, telling the BBC he was "a larger than life character, ebullient, warm-hearted and generous".

Affectionately known as "the crafty cook", he also wrote 29 cookery books.

'Close friend'

"I'm shocked and saddened by the death of my old colleague and friend with whom I worked happily for 17 years on Food and Drink," Goolden said.

"All the years we worked together, it was as though Michael and I were in a mutual appreciation society - his approach to cooking was fresh and practical, he definitely preferred to be called a cook and not a chef.

"When we started working together I was just beginning my career as a 'wine expert' and Michael was an unswerving support - although he never drank wine himself, he just imagined it from my descriptions.

Image caption Barry also made his name in the world of broadcasting

"His food was always delicious and I enthusiastically tasted absolutely every morsel he cooked for the programme. I considered him a close friend and will miss him," she added.

Born Michael Bukht, he used the pseudonym Barry for his television work which made him a household name.

But he made an even bigger impact in the world of radio broadcasting.

After initially joining the BBC as a trainee in 1963, Barry became programme controller of both radio and television for the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation for two years when he was 25.

In 1973 he joined London's Capital Radio as programme director and went on to be programme controller for the GWR group.

Together with the chief executive of the network, Ralph Bernard, Barry co-founded Classic FM in 1992 after spotting a gap in the market.

Barry remained as programme controller of the station until he stepped down in 1997 due to a stress-related illness.

He is survived by the actor and dancer Jennie Jones, a son and three daughters.