TV interview: Mary Berry Cooks

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You just can’t keep a good woman down.

Mary Berry may be 78, an age when most people are concentrating on relaxing rather than reaching the peak of their career, but she’s bigger and more popular than ever.

And it’s all down to one little programme - The Great British Bake Off. Nobody could have foreseen what a phenomenon that show would end up being, and how it would suddenly turn Mary into a national treasure.

Okay, so long-standing foodies were already aware of her thanks to her recipe books and earlier TV experiences, but none of those brought her the same kind of exposure as the Bake Off did.

She’ll be back for a new run of that later in the year when the show moves to BBC1, but for now, she’s on BBC2 again, this time presenting a six-part series in which she offers tips for nervous cooks from her own kitchen.

Mary hopes to inspire people to prepare meals for both everyday and special occasions, including meals that will appeal to every member of the family, young and old.

As ever, Mary delivers her advice in her firm but fair, gentle yet easy-to-understand way - and she likes to keep it straightforward, too.

“First of all, you have to decide what you’re going to do,” she says when asked for advice on what to cook for a dinner party. “Go simple and don’t try something you haven’t done before. It’s a good idea to have the first course and the pud chilled, and then you can concentrate on the main meal.

“I don’t want anything last-minute because anything can happen. I do try to plan, because I want to be with my guests. It’s all about them, and they don’t want to see you stressed. And if you’re in the kitchen cooking with them, they can watch you, and people like that.”

Unlike some TV chefs, she doesn’t like to bombard viewers with ingredients they may never have heard of: “It’s very important that the recipes work and contain ingredients that everybody can buy from supermarkets.”

Amen to that!

She kicks off the series by offering ideas for a traditional tea party. You’ll certainly never look at sandwiches in the same way again, and will be rushing out to buy the ingredients to make Mary’s mouth-watering bite-sized scones too.

Her granddaughters also make a guest appearance while helping her make orange butterfly cakes.


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