Delia Smith CBE has won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Special Award at a tribute event.
The celebrity cook was honoured for her outstanding contribution to television cookery and services to broadcasting, at a ceremony held at BAFTA’s London headquarters in Piccadilly on April 30.
Andrew Newman, chair of BAFTA’s television committee, said: “Delia Smith is one of the most influential voices in television cookery, and has played an important role in not only pioneering the genre in television, but also shaping the perception of cooking in the nation’s consciousness.
He added: “Delia was the first TV cook to be recognised by her first name alone and her achievements have paved the way for today’s cooking programmes and formats.
“It is unlikely that Jamie, Nigella, Gordon, The Hairy Bikers and much-loved competitions such as ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and ‘MasterChef’ would have happened without her contribution.”
On hearing the news, Delia said: “After the initial shock, I’m very proud to receive this honour from BAFTA as I’ve been a passionate movie buff ever since I was a small child, and television broadcasting has been a huge part of my life. So thank you so much BAFTA!”
The award was presented by comedienne Victoria Wood, with whom Delia co-starred in ‘Victoria Wood’s Midlife Christmas’. Victoria said of Delia: “I think we can agree that Delia Smith, with her marvellous contribution to nutrition, our happiness, to communication, to television, to democracy… truly deserves the word national treasure, and I’m so thrilled to be able to present this BAFTA Special Award.”
Delia began her TV career in 1973 as presenter of a BBC1 series entitled ‘Family Fare’. Her first cookery book ‘How to Cheat at Cooking’ had been published two years earlier and, several books later, Delia approached the BBC with the idea for a televised cookery course. The result, ‘Delia Smith’s Cookery Course Part One’, was broadcast in 1978, followed by Part Two in 1980 and Part Three in 1981.
Later series for the BBC have included ‘One is Fun’ in 1991, ‘Delia’s How to Cook’, which ran for three series between 1998 and 2002, and ‘Delia’s Classic Christmas’, which gained an audience of nearly 4 million in December 2009, and marked her first Christmas programme for nearly 20 years.
Delia Smith has sold over 21 million books worldwide. Her latest book was launched in February with an online cookery school on the Delia Online website.