Marcel Boulestin television shorts (lost early BBC programs; 1937-1939)

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Surviving still of Boulestin and Middleton Again.

Status: Lost

Hosting early television shows on BBC Television Service from 1937 to 1939, French chef Marcel Boulestin became known as the first TV chef.[1] Between hosting series like Cook's Night Out, Dish of the Month, and Foundations of Cookery, Boulestin also hosted various one-off shorts concerning cooking and non-cooking topics. All of these shorts are now permanently missing.

Milk Dishes

Milk Dishes is an early BBC television cooking short broadcast on 5th June 1937.[2] It was the second TV program Boulestin was involved in following Cook's Night Out, and before Dish of the Month.

According to the Radio Times synopsis of the short, Milk Dishes was created at a time when the UK population was encouraged to consume more milk drinks. Therefore, the short focuses on how to utilize milk in certain recipes, including a soup containing various spring vegetables. Boulestin would also discuss the drive-in increasing public consumption of milk in England, claiming that consumption would not reach unsustainable levels, but would simply match France's general consumption levels, which at the time were higher than England's.[3]

Polite Wine-Drinking

Following the last episode of Dish of the Month, Boulestin worked with British philanthropist Nesta Obermer on a short centred around wine. Broadcast on December 23rd, 1937,[4] the Radio Times synopsis of the short stated Polite Wine-Drinking concerned Boulestin and Obermer discussing what attributes are required to produce a bottle of quality wine, and how wine should be served.[5]

Boulestin and Middleton Again

In early 1938, Boulestin collaborated with gardener C.H. Middleton to produce a short that would combine cooking and gardening. The short, titled Boulestin and Middleton Again, was broadcast on 20th January 1938.[6] It involved Boulestin and Middleton discussing winter food, focusing on how to both grow and cook them successfully.[7] ​Based on the show's title and the BBC Genome Blog, other shows featuring Boulestin and Middleton together were made,[8] but these were not documented in any available Radio Times issue.

The Humble and Fashionable Mussel

Broadcast on February 11th, 1938,[9] it is unknown whether The Humble and Fashionable Mussel was an episode of Dish of the Month, or a standalone short as detailed by Radio Times. Regardless, the program involved Boulestin making Moules Marinières and Moules Poulette. [10]

Bee for Boulestin/Blind-Man's-Buffet

Finally, broadcast on 21st May 1939,[11] Boulestin teamed with Robin Adair and a gourmet food company to research whether food tasted the same when one was blindfolded. It is unknown what this short was called, as the relevant Radio Times issue titles it as either Bee for Boulestin or Blind-Man's-Buffet. Unlike the other shorts, which lasted around 10 to 15 minutes, this program was expected to last around 40 minutes.[12]


Like other early BBC television broadcasts, including all of Boulestin's shows, these shorts were broadcast live and were not recorded. Therefore, they are now permanently missing. Boulestin and Middleton Again is the only short with a surviving photograph.


See Also

Early BBC Television

Early BBC Sports Television

External Links