Where can I see classic Mary Berry?

If you’re a fan of British cooking legend Mary Berry, you might wonder where you can find content from earlier in her career. Perhaps you have some of her cook books and would like to see how she executed similar recipes.

There is a way: Mary Berry appeared on Thames Television’s Good Afternoon and Afternoon Plus magazine programmes during the 1970s and 80s. Clips from these programmes have been added to Thames‘ official YouTube Channel over the last few years, with new videos added during the last week or so.

Not only are there already 63 videos featuring Mary, they are included in a handy playlist which you can find easily, or even binge watch. There are often several clips from the same edition of the programme.

During the 70s, Mary appeared alongside host Judith Chalmers on Good Afternoon. During her segment, Mary would often discuss which ingredients were most affordable for the type of dishes she was going to demonstrate, as well as which ingredient groups were interchangeable. She gave tips on how to cut down food waste and make the most of any ingredients she was using for the particular recipes on the show that day. The segment was presented as a sort of conversation between Mary and Judith, in which they also discussed the most appropriate or useful type of utensil or kitchen appliances to use for the featured dishes. Particular kitchen techniques, tips and tricks were described and demonstrated, with a focus on being as accessible and efficient as possible.

While these programmes might seem like a curiosity today, with a modern eye’s focus being drawn towards the era’s fashions in clothes, hair and food, there is much to be said for the information being given. Although the prices being quoted are long outdated, the basic information behind them still rings true. The 1970s was an era of high food prices and energy shortages, with financial hardship for many. To see someone giving hints and tips for how to make the food and energy budget stretch as far as possible is as relatable today as it was then.

By the time Afternoon Plus came in the 80s, there was less spotlight on affordability. Another change was that Mary presented the segments solo, which now feels a lot closer to her modern day programmes. She talked about swapping ingredients, using whatever is easily accessed for you. But there is naturally a bit less emphasis on price and more on what you may be able to find in your supermarket. Where on Good Afternoon Mary recommends herbs and produce from your garden, Afternoon Plus has very little mention of self-sufficiency. It is still a helpful, relatable programme, but it has that air of aspiration that was so prevalent during the 1980s.

Overall, I applaud the official Thames Television channel for uploading so much Mary Berry content. It really still has value today. When the content first started to be uploaded, around 11 years ago, they possibly didn’t realise that it would become more and more relevant as time passed. A focus on efficiency and affordability is right on trend and very necessary in 2024.

Mary Berry is perhaps best known today for her involvement in the first 7 series of The Great British Bake Off, however the work she did earlier in her television career has just as much–arguably even more–value in 2024.

You can find all 63 Mary Berry videos in a Mary Berry playlist on the official Thames YouTube channel.

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