Zena Skinner

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Zena Skinner
Zena Skinner in red (cropped).jpg
in 2011
Born(1927-02-27)27 February 1927
Luton, Bedfordshire
Died6 March 2018(2018-03-06) (aged 91)
OccupationTelevision presenter, chef, writer

Zena Skinner (27 February 1927 – 6 March 2018) was a British chef, writer, and cookery expert on television and radio.

Early life[edit]

Skinner was from Luton, Bedfordshire.[1] Her father owned an electroplating company.[2][3]


Skinner served in the Women's Royal Naval Service and decoded signals at Portsmouth during World War II.[4] After the war, she worked as a demonstrator at the Eastern Electricity Board showroom in Royston; she also demonstrated electrical appliances in Jamaica and East Africa. While working in Kenya, she met Queen Elizabeth II, and her appearance in publicity photos, serving cakes to Maasai men, led her into television work.[2][5]

Her first TV appearance was in 1959.[6] She presented daytime cookery programmes for the BBC and, later, Channel 4,[4] through the 1960s and 1970s.[2] Her style tended to the homely and economical, "relaxed and friendly",[1] without fancy techniques or exotic ingredients. She also contributed to the Radio Times, and wrote several cookery books, including Zena Skinner's Book of Recipes (1968)[7] and Zena Skinner's Down to Earth Cookbook (1982).[8]

Skinner was a brand ambassador for Tupperware products.[2] In 1970 she appeared in a Sainsbury's film, "Quick Change", about the shopping and the change to decimal currency.[9] She appeared as a castaway on the BBC Radio programme Desert Island Discs, on 3 March 1969.[10] She founded a charity, Keech Hospice Care, in Luton and raised funds for it.[11][12]

Personal life[edit]

Skinner retired from television in 1989 and lived in Redbourn, Hertfordshire.[1] She died on 6 March 2018, aged 91 years,[13] a year after her brother Bruce,[14][15] at the hospice they both supported in Luton.[11][16]


  1. ^ a b c Manby, Christine (4 April 2018). "A sprinkle of Zena Skinner, popular TV chef of the Sixties and Seventies". The Independent. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Jaine, Tom (20 March 2018). "Zena Skinner obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  3. ^ Kelly's directory of the electrical industry and wireless and allied trades throughout England, Scotland and Wales, and the principal towns in Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man ... Printed and published by Kelly's Directories Ltd. 1926.
  4. ^ a b Ansell, Frazer (24 April 2013). "TV chef entertains Garston pensioners". Watford Observer. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Zena Skinner". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  6. ^ Benedict, David (7 September 1998). "Here's something I prepared earlier". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  7. ^ Skinner, Zena (1968). Zena Skinner's book of recipes. 5th. British Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 978-0-563-08325-2.
  8. ^ Skinner, Zena (1982). Zena Skinner's down to earth cookbook. London : Robson. ISBN 978-0-86051-159-5.
  9. ^ Myer, Kenneth (11 September 1970). "Films Help in Conversion to Decimals". The Guardian. p. 14. Retrieved 27 March 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Desert Island Discs - Castaway : Zena Skinner". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Zena Skinner, TV chef and author, dies". BBC News. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Tribute to Zena Skinner (1927-2018)". Keech Hospice Care. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Obituary: Zena Skinner, cook/chef, television personality, broadcaster". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  14. ^ "RIP: Bruce Skinner (1925 – 2017)". Keech Hospice Care. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Tribute paid to one of the founder members of Keech". Luton Today. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Luton's Keech Hospice Care owes '˜debt of gratitude' to founder member Zena". Luton Today. Retrieved 27 March 2020.

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