Philip Harben had the first television cooking programme in the world. The programme started in 1946 on the BBC.
The series was broadcast in black and white. At some points, he had to use his own personal rations (Britain was on war rations until around 1954) as ingredients on the programmes. He showed his audience how to cook with what was available at the time: for instance, he would show them how to cook chips and steak and kidney pie.Bedecked with a marvellous beard, he spoke with a good BBC accent, and was very good-natured and happy on his shows. To go on air, he always wore a striped apron.
He wrote a column for Women’s Own magazine. Harry Diamond, deputy chief sub-editor at the time, was once forced by space restrictions to remove three or four words from one of Philip’s recipes, causing one of the few recorded incidents when Harben’s good nature failed him. In the cooking books he also wrote, he took a rational approach, stopping to explain the chemical reactions involved, particularly in his book “The Grammar of Cookery.”
He was a Freemason, a member of the Savage Club lodge in London.
He was married to Katharine (Kathy) Kenyon.
Chronology of his life