Sunday Night At The Criterion

Yesterday night I attended the taping of an interview of Nigella Lawson by popular UK television presenter Kristy Young at the historic Criterion Theatre in London. I love Nigella Lawson’s writing, and regularly cook from her cookbooks. I cannot even imagine how many of her recipes I have made in my kitchen over the years. In that time, only one of them did not turn out, and I am quite sure it was more my fault than hers. So I was thrilled to be given tickets to attend the taping for Sky Arts HD.

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I have been to the Criterion before, and it is not a large theatre. Even full, it is a very intimate setting. The stage was simply set, with two large chairs, a table and a decorative bookshelf. Nigella and Kristy were introduced by Ed Victor, Nigella’s literary agent. It was lovely to get to see him as Nigella has written about him, and even included one of his recipes, in her books. She writes so fondly of him, I always wondered what he looked like! He was just as I imagined him, and at the end of the evening presented both ladies with huge bouquets of flowers.

The beauty of this interview was that both Kristy and Nigella were so relaxed, at one point Nigella even curled her foot up on the chair, almost as if she really were sitting in someone’s living room. Kristy asked some very personal questions, but Nigella chatted easily, and shared more than I have ever heard or read her to share in an interview before. From her life as a child and her relationship with her parents to the death of her first husband John Diamond, and even her marriage to Charles Saatchi, it appeared nothing was taboo. The interview was far from completely serious though, and there was a good deal of laughter amongst both the two ladies on stage and the audience alike. As it will be shown on Sky Arts HD soon, I don’t want to share too much and spoil it, but of course food was discussed at length, as was seasonality (I loved Nigella’s views on it), anxiety, the pressure on women today, and balancing home, family, and children.

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I met Nigella Lawson a couple of years ago, at a book signing at the Good Food Show, where she was also presenting. She had been talking so much she was nearly hoarse, but her patience and good nature really did shine through, as she spent time talking to everyone, and did not just sign books with her name, but inscribed them to whomever you wished. She is one of the most down to earth celebrities I have ever met. This totally came through in the question and answer session with the audience last night. The questions were not scripted, and audience members really were chosen at random. Again, it seemed nothing was off limits, although a question on ageing brought a typically pragmatic response along the lines of “Nothing I can do about it, and I really don’t like the alternative” and another question about “What three things would you save from your kitchen in a fire” brought a blank look, clearly indicating it wouldn’t be things she would be saving, but later she listed three sentimental items she would save ‘if she had time’. The whole interview and questions were filmed in one take, with the only edit being asking a gentleman to repeat a question that had not been picked up properly by the microphones, although the audience had heard it, and Nigella had answered it. It was an incredibly smooth taping, and although there were several cameras and it will definitely be edited, there were no other ‘re-takes’ save the one I’ve just mentioned.

I had reservations about attending a taping, as they are often long, drawn out and even boring, but this was nothing of the sort. We had a wonderful evening, in great company, and are still talking about it today. I am seriously looking forward to the programme being shown on Sky Arts HD, and I’m also looking forward to seeing what Nigella is planning for the future, as that is one thing that was not discussed. I really, really hope there is another book in the works! One thing is for sure, this is one lady who will continue to influence the world of cooking both now and for many years to come.

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1272 great articles for us.
April is a food, lifestyle and travel writer who lives in Berkshire, England. She shares inspiration, tips and trends for anyone who loves food, cooking, entertaining, fashion, travel and the finer things in life at her blog, AprilJHarris.com.
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