Television cook visits Garston Seniors group

Watford Observer: Television cook visits Garston Seniors group Television cook visits Garston Seniors group

Former BBC cook, Zena Skinner, made a welcome return visit to speak to a Garston pensioners' group on Monday afternoon.

The Seniors Group meets fortnightly at Stanborough Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in St Albans Road.

Having spoken to the group last year about her time in the Wrens during World War II and how she first went into broadcasting she returned to entertain them with amusing anecdotes from her days in front of the television cameras; a time when she became a household name.

Four years after leaving the Wrens Ms Skinner became a cookery demonstrator with GEC. A business trip to Kenya coincided with a visit by the Queen who had included viewing an annual show being held in the Royal Nairobi Park in the royal itinerary.

A photo of her feeding her cakes left over from one of her cookery demonstrations to some of the Masai warriors who were performing in the show was printed in a British newspaper and attracted the attention of a producer of "Cookery Club" series at the BBC.

She was invited for an interview and an audition and was appointed as one the show's regular presenters between 1959 and 1982. Another presenter was the celebrated Marguerite Patten with whom she is still in touch.

After her time with the BBC came to an end she worked alongside Robert Dougall and Raymond Baxter on "Years Ahead", a Channel 4 programme aimed the over-sixties, where this time it was the men who did the cooking. This programme came to an end in 1989.

During her broadcasting career she also worked on a programme called "Indoors, Outdoors" where she recalled meeting many well-known faces, especially newsreaders.

She once met Ronnie Barker in a lift who, to her surprise, recognised her and asked her advice in the canteen over which foods he could eat as he was on a diet.

She also recalled bumping into actor John Inman in the car park and was delighted that her "Are you free Mr Humphries?" met with the response of "I'm free!"

Over the years she has produced 13 cookery books, which are still available on Amazon, and her cookery cards, which were distributed with Woman's Realm, now retail for £1 each.

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