Britain's Best Home Cook



Claudia Winkleman


Mary Berry (all series)
Chris Bavin (all series)
Dan Doherty (2018)
Angela Hartnett (2020-21, but see Key moments)
Tom Kerridge (2020 quarterfinals)


Keo Films for BBC One, 3 May 2018 to 20 February 2020 (16 episodes in 2 series, 2020 as Best Home Cook)

as Celebrity Best Home Cook: BBC One, 26 January to 17 February 2021 (8 episodes in 1 series)


Aiming to “test the real-life expertise of truly great home cooks”, Britain’s Best Cook “will celebrate the food people make for their loved ones every single day”. That was what a BBC press release promised in August 2017. The show turned out to be a knockout elimination, whittling ten cooks down to a single winner.

Tasting today's food.

Each episode begins with the judges (Mary Berry from The Great British Bake Off, chef Dan Doherty, and produce expert Chris Bavin) setting a themed challenge. For instance, create a fish main course with three side dishes. Two hours of cooking follows, compressed to a few minutes on screen.

After the tasting, each judge picks their favourite offering. Those cooks - or cook - choose from two key ingredients in the next round. The cooks have the evening to research dishes using that ingredient, but don't know the brief until they arrive the next morning.

At the judges' discretion, three or four cooks will take part in the final challenge. It's a very technical cook, they're given recipes and just enough ingredients, and just enough time to make the dish. The worst performer in this challenge leaves the contest.

The set decor.

There were some slight gimmicks to the format. All cooks lived in the same house, and the introductory videos spoke of how the cooks made food for their families. The atmosphere was supportive, different from the hostility on Masterchef.

Viewer reaction was muted: Britain's Best Home Cook followed straight after the Masterchef series, perhaps too much cookery in one sitting. Praise was for Claudia Winkleman and Mary Berry, the other judges were interchangeable.

Another problem came from each episode's structure - they slowly narrow the room to manouvere, going from the cooks' imaginations to the judges' requirements, and from showcasing excellence to the less brilliant. Bake Off always finishes with its show-stopper, Best Home Cook puts its best dish first.

Best Home Cook was an interesting diversion, but never came across as essential viewing. A second series early in 2020, with Angela Hartnett replacing Dan Doherty, also failed to set the world alight.

A celebrity series appeared for 2021. Being shot during the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone kept two metres away from each other, except for Ruth Madeley and her helper, who had bubbled up. To maintain social distancing, judges were seated on separate tables and given separate plates of food. And because she was 85 at the time of filming and thus at higher risk of complications, Mary Berry kept an entire floor away from the celebrities on a balcony while the other judges milled around.

Key moments

A case of double standards during the second series. Tom Kerridge had to replace Angela Hartnett during the 2020 quarterfinals as she was unavailable on that day. However, when chef Oli fell ill, they did delay filming for a couple of days so that he could take part in the Eliminator.


2018: Pippa Middlehurst
2020: Suzie Arbuthnot
2021: Ed Balls


In the 2021 celebrity series: Ed Balls, Ruth Madeley, Desiree Burch, Ed Byrne, Shobna Gulati, Rachel Johnson, Ferne McCann, Tom Read Wilson, Gareth Thomas, and Karim Zeroual.

Title music

Matthew Cracknell, credited for "Music".


Dan Doherty was replaced by Angela Hartnett for series two after being accused of sexual misconduct.

KEO Films was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's production company, which went bust in August 2021.

Web links

BBC programme page (Regular)

BBC programme page (Celebrity)

Wikipedia entry

See also

Weaver's Week review


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