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Food Programme host Cooper dies

TRIBUTES have been paid to the former BBC Radio 4 presenter Derek Cooper who has died at the age of 88.

Mr Cooper was best known as the host of The Food Programme, a weekly radio programme he founded to celebrate and investigate the culinary world and first broadcast in 1979. He also worked on the BBC's Tomorrow's World programme in the 1960s.

The Scottish journalist and writer was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1995. In 2001 Mr Cooper received a Sony Radio Academy Special Award for his pioneering work in food journalism and was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1997. The Food Programme Twitter account said Mr Cooper was "a man who reintroduced a nation to its food culture".

It added: "Sad to announce that the founding presenter of The Food Programme, the journalist and broadcaster Derek Cooper has died."

Mr Cooper was also the first chairman and president of the Guild of Food Writers. Since 2002, the Guild has given out the Derek Cooper Award for campaigning and investigative food writing and broadcasting.

Food writer Jay Rayner, who was a recipient of the Derek Cooper award last year, said Mr Cooper was a "standard bearer" in food journalism.

Rayner said: "Farewell to Derek Cooper: a superb broadcaster, but more importantly a standard bearer for a robust, questioning tradition of food journalism."

Broadcaster and comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli tweeted: "Derek Cooper. The comforting voice of a ­generation. RIP."

Mr Cooper also featured on Radio 4 programmes PM, Today, and You and Yours. He began his career at Radio Malaya in 1950 and worked at ITN before becoming a familiar voice of BBC radio and television shows.

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