Ready Steady Cook

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Ready Steady Cook
BBC Ready Steady Cook.png
Third logo, used from 2005 to 2010
Genre Cooking show
Presented by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series21 (Original)
9 (Celebrity)
2 (Revival)
No. of episodes1,735 (Original)
102 (Celebrity)
20 (Revival)
Running time30 minutes (1994–2000)
45 minutes (2000–2010, 2020–)
Production companiesBazal Productions (1994–2001)
Endemol UK Productions (2002–06)
Cheetah Television (2006–10)
Remarkable Television (2020–)
Distributor Banijay
Original network BBC Two (1994–2010)
BBC One (1997–2003, 2020–)
Original release24 October 1994 (1994-10-24) 
Related shows MasterChef

Ready Steady Cook is a BBC daytime TV cooking game show. It debuted on 24 October 1994 and the last original edition was broadcast on 2 February 2010. [1] The programme was hosted by Fern Britton from 1994 until 2000 when celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott became the new host. In August 2000, when Harriott took over, the duration of the programme was extended from 30 to 45 minutes.


On 2 September 2019, it was confirmed that Rylan Clark-Neal would host a revived daytime series on BBC One in 2020. [2]



Two members of the public provided two celebrity chefs with a bag of ingredients they had bought, usually to a set budget of £5. The two teams were designated "red tomato" and "green pepper" (referred to as "red kitchen" and "green kitchen" after the August 2007 revamp, though the tomato and pepper motifs still featured on the guests' aprons and in the show's logo).

Occasionally, the permitted budget was increased: a so-called Bistro Bag allowed for ingredients of up to £7.50, while the Gourmet Bag could have a value of up to £10. On some occasions, they used a £3.50 Budget Bag. Also on a few shows, a Lucky Dip Bag was used, which contained ten items. The chef closed his or her eyes and picked out half of the items at the beginning. At the halfway mark, the chef randomly picked a sixth item, which might have helped or hindered the chef. The chefs had no prior knowledge of the ingredients they had to prepare. Another format was used on occasion in which both kitchens were given the same ingredients, and the toss of a red and green die determined who had first pick.

The Main Course

The chefs had to make several dishes out of the said ingredients (and a generously stocked kitchen containing basic ingredients and aids) in 20 minutes, with the help of the contestants and the programme host. As the contestants taste the prepared food, the host asks the chef some questions about their dish. Prior to the September 2006 season it was customary for the chefs to name their creations, which usually included a pun.

The preparations were voted on by the studio audience, who each held up a card showing either a red tomato or green pepper. In the newer episodes, the audience members pushed a button on their seat keypad to indicate who they would like to win. The winner received a cash prize of £100, which celebrity guests donated to charity (an example the regular guests sometimes followed) but this was changed to a plate towards the end of the series. The runner-up used to receive a hamper which included a variety of items, such as a set of knives, pasta and sauces, olive oil and balsamic vinegar but later received a Ready Steady Cook mug due to budget restraints.

Quickie bag

The quickie bag section of the show then followed. This was introduced in 2000, the same year Ainsley Harriott became presenter, extending the programme from 30 to 45 minutes. The contents of the quickie bag used to be decided on by the series producer and a home economist. Their decision was based on produce that was currently in season or unusual ingredients that had not featured on the show recently. In late August 2007, the quickie bag changed format with the bag being brought in by George Edward Mcauliffe, who challenged the chefs to prepare the dish.

The two chefs each had a chance to describe what they would cook using the bag of ingredients and the audience members voted to choose which dish they would like to see prepared. The winner then had 10 minutes to complete the described dishes, with the help of the other chef and the host. The hectic preparation of the chosen chef's suggested dishes often includes a slight element of chaos and ad-libbing along the way. A viewer's question relating to a cooking problem is usually put to the chefs, further adding to the pressure upon them to complete their dishes in the time allowed.

Celebrity Ready Steady Cook

Originally as a spin-off that ran alongside the original, Celebrity Ready Steady Cook had celebrities, often competing against a family member or friend, provide the bag of ingredients to the same budget of £5. Later series would see the public completely replaced with celebrity guests.

Celebrity appearances include: David Tennant, Wendy Richard, Kate Winslet, Honor Blackman, James May, Richard Hammond, Paul O'Grady as alter-ego Lily Savage, Cliff Richard, Twiggy, Fiona Bruce, Gail Porter, Midge Ure, Edd China, Amanda Redman, Ade Edmondson and Alan Davies.

Variations on the format

Revived series

In September 2019, the BBC announced that Ready Steady Cook would return.

Returning in March 2020, Celebrity MasterChef finalist Rylan Clark-Neal serves as host. He is joined by chefs Ellis Barrie, Romy Gill, Anna Haugh, Akis Petretzikis, and Mike Reid.

Ready Steady Cook introduced various sustainability efforts, including favouring glass over plastic, initiating a recycling programme, donating leftover food to a local food bank, and using locally sourced seasonal ingredients and Fair Trade items when available. [3] [4] [5]

The second series following the revival started airing in March 2021. Clark-Neal returned as host, with the chef team largely remaining the same. Jeremy Pang replaced Mike Reid as Reid was unable to return to the UK from Australia during the pandemic. For the first time, the chefs decided the winner as the show was filmed without an audience. [6]

Series overview

Original series

SeriesStart dateEnd dateEpisodesPresenter
124 October 1994 [7] 23 December 1994 [8] 24 Fern Britton
29 January 1995 [9] 2 June 1995 [10] 70
316 October 1995 [11] 17 June 1996 [12] 121
42 September 199619 June 1997142
520 August 199715 June 1998136
67 September 199812 July 1999109
76 September 199930 May 2000108
814 August 20005 January 200165 Ainsley Harriott
922 January 200130 July 200165
103 September 200121 December 200155
1121 January 200228 May 200247
1212 August 20026 May 2003108
1318 August 200326 May 2004124
1431 August 200410 May 2005123
155 September 200510 May 2006120
1618 September 200620 April 2007123
1727 August 2007 [13] 26 October 2007 [14] 47
1811 February 2008 [15] 16 May 2008 [16] 57
1919 May 2008 [17] 7 October 2008 [18] 32
2019 January 2009 [19] 15 June 2009 [20] 40
2124 November 2009 [21] 2 February 2010 [22] 35

Revived series

SeriesStart dateEnd dateEpisodesPresenter
12 March 202027 March 202020 Rylan Clark-Neal
21 March 202115 April 202130

Celebrity Ready Steady Cook

SeriesStart dateEnd dateEpisodesPresenter
111 July 199729 August 19978 Fern Britton
27 January 19984 March 19989
38 July 199824 December 199815
48 January 199912 February 19996
511 June 199915 December 19999
627 December 19992 July 200012
718 October 200016 April 200117 Ainsley Harriott
84 May 200129 June 200123
8 September 200129 June 2002
96 November 20023 January 20032


24 December 1997Christmas Special Fern Britton
20 November 1998 Children in Need
12 February 2002Happy Birthday! Ainsley Harriott
13 February 2002
23 December 2004Christmas Special
12 July 2006 Sports Relief Special
17 March 2021Red Nose Day Special Rylan Clark-Neal

Daytime Celebrity Christmas specials

SeriesStart dateEnd dateEpisodesPresenter
127 December 20023 January 20037 Ainsley Harriott
226 December 200331 December 20035

International versions

Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Ready Steady Cook Network Ten Nick Stratford (2005)
Peter Everett (2006–2011)
Colin Lane (2011–2013)
200512 December 2013
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy La prova del cuoco Rai 1 Antonella Clerici (2000–2008; 2010–2018)
Elisa Isoardi (2008–2010; 2018–2020)
2 October 200026 June 2020
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Kochduell VOX Britta von LojewskiSeptember 199727 August 2005
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece Στην κουζίνα ολοταχώς
Stin kouzina olotahos
Mega Channel Ilias Mamalakis20002004
Ready, Steady, Cook Alpha TV Akis Petretzikis 8 May 201710 July 2017
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland Kokkisota MTV3 Sikke Sumari25 February 1999
18 January 2017
13 May 2004
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Woolworth's Ready Steady Cook TV3 (1998)
TVNZ (1999, 2005)
Kerre Woodham (1998–1999)
Clayton Carrick-Leslie (2005)
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland SmaczneGO!
Gotowi do Gotowania. Start!
TVP 2 Olga Bończyk (2007–2008)
Marzena Rogalska (2019–)
10 March 2007
9 September 2019
24 May 2008
Flag of the United States.svg  United States Ready... Set... Cook! Food Network Robin Young (1995–1996)
Sissy Biggers (1996–2000)
Ainsley Harriott (2000–2001)
2 October 19951 January 2001


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