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While his dancing experience may be limited to “dancing around the kitchen with Suzy Salt and Percy Pepper”, Ainsley can’t wait to swap the oven gloves for a pair of dancing shoes, saying: “I’m most looking forward to the discipline and I admire the dedication it takes to be a good dancer.”
I won’t be cooking any breakfast for Craig!Ainsley Harriott
The 58-year-old celebrity chef has a cupboard stocked full of television credits, including Good Morning with Anne and Nick, Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook, Ainsley’s Barbeque Bible, Ainsley’s Meals in Minutes and, perhaps most famously, Ready Steady Cook. It won’t be long before Ainsley is cooking up a storm on the Strictly dancefloor!
Ainsley trained at Westminster College of Catering, before becoming an apprentice at Verrey’s restaurant in London’s West End. He then became Head Chef at Lord's Cricket Ground before transitioning into the media as the presenter of More Nosh, Less Dosh on BBC Radio 5. Alongside his television career, Ainsley is also a bestselling author, having sold more than two million books worldwide.
Born and bred in Wandsworth, South London, Ainsley is the son of Jamaican pianist Chester Harriott and nurse Peppy Strudwick, and has two grown-up children, Jimmy (24) and Maddie (21).
Sharing his father’s musical genes, Harriott formed the Calypso Twins with school friend Paul Boross. The pair released a light-hearted hit record in the early 1990s called ‘World Party’ and went on to be regular performers at the Comedy Store and Jongleurs and made appearances on TV and radio.
Clearly a man of many talents, in 1993 Ainsley played the part of a GELF chief in the sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf. In 1998, for the show's 10th anniversary, Harriott presented a special edition of Can't Cook, Won't Cook with the cast of Red Dwarf cooking a meal while remaining in character.
In 2000, Ainsley made his US debut with The Ainsley Harriott Show which ran for more than 100 episodes. Following this he went on to host the US version of Ready, Steady Cook. Back in the UK, in 2008, Harriott took part in the genealogy documentary series Who Do You Think You Are?