Two Fat Ladies

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Two Fat Ladies
StarringJennifer Paterson
Clarissa Dickson Wright
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series4
No. of episodes24
Running time30 minutes
Production companyOptomen Television for BBC
Original networkBBC Two
Original release9 October 1996 (1996-10-09) –
28 September 1999 (1999-09-28)

Two Fat Ladies was a British cooking programme starring Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright. It originally ran for four series – twenty-four episodes – from 9 October 1996 to 28 September 1999, being produced by Optomen Television for the BBC. Since then, the show has been repeated frequently on the Food Network and Cooking Channel in the US and on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In the UK, the show has been transmitted many times on the satellite channel Good Food.


The show centred on Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright travelling the United Kingdom for most of the episodes, except for one episode in Ireland and a Christmas special in Jamaica, on a Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle driven by Paterson. It sported the registration N88 TFL (the British bingo call for number 88 is "Two Fat Ladies", initialised in the suffix "TFL" of the registration) and had a Watsonian Jubilee[1] GP-700 "doublewide" sidecar where Dickson Wright rode. They travelled to various destinations, such as an army garrison and an all-girls school, where they prepared large meals, often with unusual ingredients.

Paterson's uncle, Anthony Bartlett, was Gentiluomo to the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and so one episode was videotaped at Westminster Cathedral and another at an Irish convent. While cooking at Westminster Cathedral, Paterson cooked an original dish, Peaches Cardinal Hume.[2] In the same episode, Dickson Wright demonstrated a bubble and squeak recipe[3] which used two ounces of lard, which she insisted is the only fat besides beef dripping that could ever get hot enough to produce the recipe as it should be produced. Similarly, her recipe for buttered spatchcock saw chickens covered with a thick layer of butter, bread and more butter on top of the bread. Recipes such as this led to criticism by some who considered them to be a bad influence on the British diet.[4][failed verification]

Optomen Television had this to say, as if in reply to their critics: "The Ladies are cooks not chefs – they reject the pretensions and elaborations of haute cuisine and are aggressively unfashionable, delighting in such ingredients as clotted cream, lard and fatty meats."[1]

Theme song[edit]

Paterson and Dickson Wright sang their own theme song written by composer Pete Baikie, and Paterson often burst into song during the show, once introducing apple pan dowdy with a verse from the song "Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy" (erroneously attributing the song to The Andrews Sisters). They revelled in cooking at grand locations, such as at Lennoxlove House near Edinburgh.


Paterson died of lung cancer on 10 August 1999, aged 71, one month after diagnosis. The day before she died, she asked Dickson Wright to bring her a tin of caviar but when Dickson Wright arrived at the hospital, Paterson had already died. Dickson Wright said that after Paterson's funeral, she ate the caviar as a tribute to her friend.[5] Dickson Wright died in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on 15 March 2014 from pneumonia induced by an undisclosed illness. She was 66.[6]


"The Two Fat Ladies" produced four cookbooks which accompanied each of the four television series. In order: Two Fat Ladies: Gastronomic Adventures (with Motorbike and Sidecar), The Two Fat Ladies Ride Again, The Two Fat Ladies: Full Throttle and Two Fat Ladies Obsessions.[7]

DVD release[edit]

The Two Fat Ladies DVD set was released in the United States in July 2008. The Acorn Media UK set includes a 40-minute BBC tribute to Paterson, biographies of the stars and "six yummo recipes" in a booklet. It contains all 24 episodes across four discs. The show had previously been released in Britain as a Region 2 DVD set.[8]

Series overview[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 9 October 1996 13 November 1996 6
2 29 September 1997 24 December 1997 7
3 1 September 1998 22 December 1998 7
4 7 September 1999 28 September 1999 4

Episode list[edit]

Series 1 (1996)[edit]

Episode Title Location Clarissa's dishes Jennifer's dishes Air date
1 Fish & Shellfish The Shark's Fin Hotel
Mevagissey, Cornwall
9 October 1996
2 Meat Westonbirt School
  • Beef à la Will Moreland
  • Chicken breasts with walnut aillade
  • Roast "Hedgehog" (meatloaf)
  • A.N.'s slow shoulder of lamb
16 October 1996
3 Fruit & Vegetables Westminster Cathedral
23 October 1996
4 Cakes Hallaton, Leicestershire 30 October 1996
5 Game Lennoxlove House
East Lothian
6 November 1996
6 Food in the Wild Hawkhirst Scout Camp
Kielder Forest, Northumberland
13 November 1996

Series 2 (1997)[edit]

Episode Title Location Clarissa's dishes Jennifer's dishes Air date
1 Cocktail Party The Brazilian Embassy
Mayfair, London
29 September 1997
2 Lunch Vintage motorcycle rally
Hesket New Market, Cumbria
  • Loin of pork stuffed with cèpes or truffles
  • Chantal's stuffed tomatoes
6 October 1997
3 Picnic Male choir in
  • Welsh lamb pie
  • Mitton of pork
13 October 1997
4 Afternoon Tea A cricket match
Warborough, Oxfordshire
  • Queen Alexandra's favourite sandwiches
  • Rigó Jancsi's chocolate slices
  • Gentleman's savoury delights (shortcrust)
  • Fresh fruit tartlets
20 October 1997
5 Breakfast Black Sheep Brewery
Masham, North Yorkshire
27 October 1997
6 Dinner 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Aldershot, Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Church Crookham
3 November 1997
Special Christmas Winchester Cathedral Choir
The Pilgrims' School, Winchester, Hampshire
  • Mousse of the egg
  • Roast goose with pâté and prune stuffing
24 December 1997

Series 3 (1998)[edit]

Episode Title Location Clarissa's dishes Jennifer's dishes Air date Viewers
1 Benedictine Nuns Kylemore Abbey
Connemara, Co. Galway
  • Broad beans with dill
  • Tomato tartlets
2 September 1998 3.85
2 Pony Club The Cotswolds, Gloucestershire 9 September 1998 4.31
3 The Cambridge Eight Boat club
Cambridge University
  • Peas with lettuce
  • Cheese and honey pie
16 September 1998 4.63
4 Barristers at Lincoln's Inn Lincoln's Inn, London
  • Beef in pastry
  • Strawberry Breasts
23 September 1998 3.36
5 The Air Race East Fortune Airfield, Scotland 30 September 1998 4.21
6 Lock Keepers Grindley Brook, Shropshire 7 October 1998 4.35
Special A Caribbean Christmas Chukka Cove Polo Club
Good Hope Country House, Jamaica
  • Rice and peas
  • Jerked suckling pig
22 December 1998 3.34

Series 4 (1999)[edit]

Episode Title Location Clarissa's dishes Jennifer's dishes Air date Viewers
1 Potatoes Galore Jersey
  • Portuguese fish stew
  • Chocolate Pye
  • Boeuf Stroganoff
  • Crème Pierre le Grand (chicken soup)
7 September 1999 2.27
2 On Safari Knowsley Safari Park
14 September 1999 2.87
3 Timber! Ardnamurchan peninsula
  • Poule au pot
  • Grilled peaches and cream
21 September 1999 3.05
4 A Day at the Races Floors Castle, Kelso
St. Abbs, Northumberland
  • Hot buttered crab
  • Stuffed baked codfish with a tomato sauce
28 September 1999 3.37
  • Note: Production of Series 4 was cut short by the death of Jennifer Paterson shortly after completion of the fourth and final episode of Series 4.


  1. ^ a b "Two Fat Ladies". Optomen International. Archived from the original on 26 October 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Healthy Recipes". Retrieved 30 July 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "BUBBLE AND SQUEAK (Two Fat Ladies)". RecipeSource. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  4. ^ Farndale, Nigel (13 September 2009). "Clarissa Dickson Wright: 'They don't call me Krakatoa for nothing'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  5. ^ "UK | Two Fat Ladies star dies". BBC News. 10 August 1999. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  6. ^ "TV cook Clarissa Dickson Wright dies". BBC News. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  7. ^ " two fat ladies: Books".
  8. ^ "New DVDs: 'Two Fat Ladies,' in full – DVD Spin Doctor". 26 July 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2014.

External links[edit]