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Ainsley Harriott

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Ainsley Harriott
Ainsley Harriott.jpg
Born (1957-02-28) 28 February 1957 (age 58)
London, England
Education Westminster Kingsway College formerly Westminster Technical College
Occupation Chef, television presenter, entertainer
Years active 1988–present
Notable credit(s) Can't Cook, Won't Cook
Ready Steady Cook
Spouse(s) Clare Fellows (separated)
Children 2
Parent(s) Chester (father)
Peppy (mother)

Ainsley Harriott (born 28 February 1957) is an English chef, television presenter and entertainer, best known for appearing in BBC cooking shows such as Can't Cook, Won't Cook and Ready Steady Cook.

Early life

Harriott was born in London on the 28 February 1957 to Chester and Peppy Harriott. Chester's cousin was free jazz alto saxophonist Joe Harriott. Harriott trained at Westminster Kingsway College formerly Westminster Technical College, Harriott obtained an apprenticeship at Verrey's restaurant in the West End and later worked as a commis (trainee) chef.


Harriott's talents also lay in comedy and singing as well as cooking and Harriott formed the Calypso Twins with schoolfriend Paul Boross, releasing a hit record in the early 1990s, "World Party". The Calypso Twins went on to be regular performers at the Comedy Store and Jongleurs; they also performed in America and on TV and radio shows. Harriott became head chef at Lord's Cricket Ground's Long Room. He was asked to present More Nosh, Less Dosh on BBC Radio 5 Live,[1] and also has appeared as an extra in Hale and Pace.[2]

Television work

Harriott on the set of Ready Steady Cook, August 2004

Harriott became the resident chef on Good Morning with Anne and Nick and later the main presenter of Can't Cook, Won't Cook and Ready Steady Cook, both shows involving members of the public. He has presented more straightforward how-to-cook programmes such as Ainsley's Barbecue Bible, Ainsley's Meals in Minutes, Ainsley's Big Cook Out and Ainsley's Gourmet Express.

Harriott played the part of a GELF chief in the sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf in 1993. In 1998, for the show's 10th anniversary, Harriott presented a special edition of Can't Cook, Won't Cook called Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg with the cast of the show cooking a meal while remaining in character.

In 2000, Harriott made his debut on US television with The Ainsley Harriott Show, syndicated by Buena Vista Television, which ran for more than 100 episodes. Following this he went on to host Ready.. Set... Cook!, the US version of Ready Steady Cook. Ainsley was guest chef on Something for the Weekend on 10 May 2009 and 21 February 2010 alongside guests JLS. In February 2010, Harriott joined the morning show GMTV with Lorraine featuring cookery recipes. From 2002 until 2007, Harriott appeared in TV adverts for Fairy Liquid.

In September 2008, Harriott took part in the genealogy documentary series Who Do You Think You Are?. Harriott knew that his great-grandfather Ebenezer Harriott was in the colonial West India Regiment, and had assumed that they were descended from slaves. In Barbados, he confirmed that his great-grandfather had a distinguished military career, and learnt that he had fought for the British Empire in the Sierra Leone Hut Tax War of 1898 – an increasingly violent protest against British tax collecting in the protectorate. Although Harriott had assumed that his great-great-grandfather, James Gordon Harriott, was a black slave, he was revealed to be the descendant of a long line of white slave owners.[3] James Harriott was found on the 1825 register, owning eight slaves. The registers had revealed that James Gordon's father was George David Harriott. A deed of sale showed that George Harriott purchased slaves from his own father when he was just four years old. The Harriott family were from Jamaica.

Harriott appeared in the final My Family Christmas special in 2010 "Mary Christmas". On 11 August 2015, it was announced that Harriott will take part in the upcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing, beginning in September.[4] On September 5, 2015 it was revealed Harriott was paired with professional dancer Natalie Lowe for the thirteenth series.[5]


Harriott at the Taste of London, June 2010

Harriott is a best-selling author, publishing twelve books as well as numerous others in conjunction with his television shows. Including foreign-language translations, he has sold over 2 million books worldwide.

Other work

Harriott was the President of the Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC) 2004–05 and presented their awards ceremony that year. He markets his own range of food, including couscous, risotto, soups and cereal bars.

Harriott played the role of the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show at the New Theatre, Cardiff in March 2010, at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley[6] in October 2010, and again at the Richmond Theatre in November 2010.

He made a guest appearance in the BBC radio comedy series Giles Wemmbley Hogg Goes Off as himself in 2006.

Personal life

Harriott married former costume designer Clare Fellows, the youngest sister of comedian actor Graham Fellows. They have two children. In November 2012 the couple were reported to have separated and they remain on good terms.[7]

Harriott is a supporter of Arsenal and a patron of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


Year(s) Title Role
1988 Hale & Pace Extra
1990–1991 Davro Extra
1992–1996 Good Morning with Anne and Nick Resident chef
1993 Red Dwarf Gelf Chief
1994–2010 Ready Steady Cook Chef / presenter
1995–2000 Can't Cook, Won't Cook Presenter
1997 Ainsley's Barbeque Bible Presenter
1998 Ainsley's Meals in Minutes Presenter
1999 Ainsley's Big Cook Out Presenter
2000–2001 Gourmet Express Presenter
2000–2001 Ready.. Set... Cook! Presenter
2000 The Ainsley Harriott Show Presenter
2003 The Mark Steel Lectures Robert Boyle
2005–2007 City Hospital Presenter
2013 Great British Food Revival Presenter
2015 Ainsley Harriott's Street Food Presenter
Strictly Come Dancing Contestant



External links