Celebrity chef Keith Floyd dies

 

Celebrity television chef Keith Floyd has died of a heart attack, it has been confirmed.

Floyd (65) who revealed in July that he was battling bowel cancer, died of a heart attack at his partner’s home in Dorset, his ghostwriter James Steen said.

Born in Somerset, after leaving Wellington School he began his professional life as a journalist in Bristol.

He honed his skills as a cook after joining the army, trying out his dishes in his officers’ mess.

After leaving the forces, Floyd worked in London and France as a barman, dish-washer and vegetable peeler as well as undertaking many other kitchen duties.

He also owned three restaurants in Bristol, in one of which he had his big break after meeting a TV producer. The result was his first programme, which led to a BBC offer of a seven-part series called Floyd On Fish.

From there his career took off, with numerous television series, some of which were screened around the world. He also wrote more than 20 books, many of which went straight into the best-seller lists. His latest autobiography Stirred But Not Shaken, in which he described his battles with alcohol, is due to be published next month.

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White paid tribute to a “beautiful man”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Todayprogramme: “Keith, in my opinion, was an exceptional human being. He had great qualities.

“His ability to inspire people to cook just with his words and the way he did things was extraordinary.

“If you look at TV chefs today they don’t have his magic. It’s a very, very, very sad day for my industry and secondly for a nation.”

He added: “Keith was intellectual, he was intelligent, and he was articulate - he used words which everybody could understand. He was very special. The thing which is very sad is a little piece of Britain today died which will never be replaced. He was a beautiful man.”

At its peak, Floyd On... was must-watch TV and broadcast in 40 countries. His TV trademarks included his skewed bow-tie, the ever-constant glass of red wine in his hand, and chatting to, or even telling off, his cameramen while demonstrating a recipe. He later complained that he had been sacked from the BBC after making a programme in which ostriches were shown eating ostrich eggs.

In later years, Floyd’s fame as “the original modern celebrity chef” was eclipsed by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay.

His last TV appearance was broadcast last night on Channel 4. In the show, Keith Meets Keith, Keith Allen searched for his culinary hero, finally meeting up with him in rural France.

Off the TV, Floyd delighted his fans with one-man stage shows. Repeats of his programmes were still being screened on satellite TV around the world, of which Floyd complained: “I don’t get a penny.”

Floyd is said to have once gone bankrupt after personally guaranteeing a £36,000 drinks order while running Floyd’s Inn Pub, in Devon.

Ironically for a TV chef, Floyd insisted he hated talking about food. He lived in Kinsale, Co Cork for a time in the mid-1990s.

Floyd leaves behind a son, Patrick from his first wife, Jesmond. His second marriage in 1983 was to Julie Hatcher, the mother of his daughter, Poppy.

He proposed to his third wife, Shaunagh, after meeting her in the pub four hours beforehand. She was 23 years younger than him and the marriage, which lasted three years, ended in 1994 when he accused her of forgetting his birthday and threw her and the regulars out of his pub.

In December 2007, Floyd looked back at his life and said: “There is Keith, who is just a cook and doesn’t want to be famous. He wants to lead a simple life, go out to dinner with his mates, go fishing.

“Then there is this other person, Floyd or Floydie. He is universally popular.

“People are so obsessed with Floydie that Keith can never lead a quiet life. It is unjust. I don’t want to be Floyd.

“If I’ve influenced people, then I have. But I’ve got no idea who Floyd is. Not a clue,” he said.

Agencies