Can't Cook, Won't Cook



Various, including Ainsley Harriott, Kevin Woodford, Lesley Waters, Richard Cawley and Tony Tobin


Bazal Midlands (formerly Lomond) and BBC Pebble Mill for BBC1, 21 November 1995 to 7 July 2000 (685 episodes)


It's the ubiquitous Ainsley "What is he like?!" Harriott: Hurrah! Two people who can't cook or, indeed, won't cook were forced to cook by a friend of theirs. If they didn't? They were forced to watch a telly which played only the 24 hour Ainsley Harriott channel (a.k.a. BBC1).

Ainsley (or other resident chef) showed what they were going to be cooking and then proceeded to cook it, adding mock anger. Remember, you can't just add oil to a pan, you've got to add it with style.

The joke however was on the friends of the cooks who then had to eat the food that had been lovingly prepared for them. They were blindfolded then forcefed a mouthful from both plates. They then said which one they preferred (tactics dictated every person said a different plate so it was a draw) and if they both went for the same one than that chef won. In the unlikely event of a draw, Ainsley selected.

The winner won some champagne and Random Kitchen Implement #6, the loser won a meal out.

Key moments

In one out-take, Kevin Woodford says "Make sure it's sugar, for goodness sake... Can we stop for a second, I've just put the salt in!". In another, his flambé failed to fire:

Kevin Woodford fails to set the world alight


"It's time to rattle those pots and pans!"

"It's time to tickle those tastebuds!"


Format devised by Bazal Productions

Theme music

Ken Bolam


An entire spoof episode featuring the cast of Red Dwarf - which possibly came about due to Ainsley once playing the part of a Gelf chief in the sitcom - was produced, called Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg. The ingredients were space age too.


There was a whole range of Can't Cook, Won't Cook kitchenware available.

Can't Cook, Won't Cook

by Ainsley Harriott

Can't Cook, Won't Cook 2 by Kevin Woodford

Web links

Wikipedia entry

Opening titles from 1996 and 1997 in the BBC Motion Graphics Archive


Ainsley Harriott


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