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    Back in the 90’s, I remember flopping down on the sofa at my flat after a day of college classes, ready to be entertained by Ready Steady Cook and Ainsley Harriot.

    I have to admit that the recipes didnt look as tasty as the ones you see today whipped up by Nigella or Jamie, but the sheer entertainment factor – perhaps also the silly concept of two teams (one ordinary person each, unless it was a Celeb episode) called the Red Tomatoes vs the Green Peppers racing against the clock to cook in 20 minutes, with limited ingredients and one “famous chef” each to help (Aisley being one of them), it was television at its most couch-potato enducing.

    In those days, Ready Steady Cook was hosted by the rotund Fern Britton, who was replaced by Ainsley (who stole all the attention anyway – Fern just sort of waddled from one cooking station to another) in 2000. As I moved from the UK in 1997, I was quite surprised that the show was still alive and kicking on BBC 2 in the same timeslot.

    And after a bit more research, I found out that some changes had been made, in addition to Ainsley’s move from chef to presenter. One was that the food budget had been raised from the �5 if a Bistro bag (�7) or Gourmet bag (�10) was used. Sensible, as I dont think 5 quid can buy you much in London these days. Also, the show’s length had been upped to a lengthy 45 minutes!

    What hasn’t changed is the studio audience voting with those giant flashcards with either a red tomato or a green pepper, or the grand prize, which remains at 100 quid TWELVE years later.

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