Clarissa Dickson Wright's Devastating 2014 Death

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Clarissa Dickson Wright was one half of the beloved BBC TV series "Two Fat Ladies," which ran from 1996-1999, ending with the death of her TV partner Jennifer Paterson. The show aired in the US on the Food Network, earning the uncensored, corpulent duo legions of fans, with both Eater and Saveur declaring it the best cooking show of all time.

According to the Daily Beast, Dickson Wright came from a prominent family. Her father was a respected surgeon and treated the Royal family; her mother was an Australian heiress. However, Dickinson Wright claimed her father was also a violent alcoholic who broke three of her ribs in a drunken rage (which her younger sister Heather later disputed). He allegedly walked out on his family; the letter announcing divorce proceedings arrived while Dickson Wright was studying for the bar. She claimed she never saw him again, and after he died, he left her out of his will. A few months later, her mother passed away, and Dickson Wright poured herself a glass of whiskey and began her descent into the drink.

Educated at University College London, Dickson Wright became a barrister (via The Guardian). However, The Week reports her alcoholism nearly ruined her, putting an end to her legal career. She was homeless for a time after she spent the bulk of the inheritance from her mother on booze. She found work as a housekeeper but lost that job for crashing the car twice while drunk.

From disgraced barrister to TV cooking celebrity

After Dickson Wright sobered up, she went to work for Books for Cooks in Notting Hill, reinventing herself in the world of food (via BBC). There, she connected with British food luminaries like celebrity chef Delia Smith and cookery writer and Observer food columnist Jane Grigson. When Books for Cooks shuttered, she returned to her native Scotland and opened Cooks Bookshop in Edinburgh (via Scotsman).

The Scotsman explains it was TV producer Pat Llewellyn who approached Dickson Wright with an idea for a television series, pairing her with Jennifer Paterson, a professional cook, and food columnist for The Spectator (via New York Times).

With their banter more than a little brazen, the pair lit up the small screen as "Two Fat Ladies." They tooled around to quaint British locations on Paterson's Triumph motorcycle, with Dickson Wright riding along in the sidecar, and championed traditional British cooking, with dishes like venison with bramble jelly or partridges with cabbage (via Chicago Tribune).

The legacy of Two Fat Ladies

The LA Times claims "Two Fat Ladies" was the show that brought the Food Network into the pop culture conversation. Dickson Wright and Paterson became so popular stateside that their book, Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies, sold out its 2,000 copies on QVC in 10 minutes.

The Washington Post reported Dickson Wright died in Scotland on March 15, 2014, after a brief and undisclosed illness. Her death came several years after the loss of her television partner Paterson, who succumbed to lung cancer a few short months after being diagnosed. According to the Daily Mail, hundreds showed up for her funeral. She was sent off with a wreath made of red chilis, sage, broccoli, and artichokes decorating her coffin.

The culinary world was devastated by her death, with tributes pouring in on Twitter from chefs like Jamie Oliver and James Martin as well as organizations like The Independent and BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (via Digital Spy).

While Dickson Wright and Paterson are no longer with us, they remain captured on the internet with episodes of "Two Fat Ladies." Both women were immortalized in a Saturday Night Live skit, with Darrell Hammond as Dickson Wright and Brendan Frasier playing Paterson.