Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:40 UK

Celebrity chef Keith Floyd dies

Keith Floyd
Floyd's unique presentation style was an instant hit

Celebrity chef Keith Floyd has died following a heart attack, aged 65.

He died at his partner's Dorset home on Monday. Floyd, diagnosed with bowel cancer in June, enjoyed a last meal of oysters and partridge, with champagne.

He shot to fame in the 1980s in ground-breaking cookery shows, presented with huge enthusiasm and wine glass in hand.

Chef Marco Pierre White said Floyd had "inspired a nation" with his programmes, while Jamie Oliver said he had been "the best television chef".

Floyd's eccentric, often shambolic style of presentation endeared him to millions of viewers around the world.

White said: "He had this great ability at the stove, great confidence. He was a natural cook.

"But his very special talent was he could articulate himself and deliver inspiration with words. He spoke in a way that everybody could understand."

He added: "A little piece of Britain died yesterday which will never be replaced.

"He was an individual, he was a maverick, he was mercurial, he was magical, he was special, he was rare."

Oliver said: "Keith was not just one of the best, he was the best television chef.

"An incredible man who lived life to the full and an inspiration to me and to so many others."

"I think all of us modern TV chefs owe a living to him. He kind of spawned us all," said Antony Worrall Thompson.

Floyd opened his first restaurant, Floyd's Bistro, in Bristol, at the age of 22.

Years later, it was running another establishment near the BBC studios in the city that Floyd was discovered by television producer David Pritchard.

Their 1985 series, Floyd on Fish, was an instant hit, and subsequent series took the chef all over the world.

Wine-fuelled flamboyance

The programmes were ground-breaking at the time for taking the cooking out of a studio, but it was Floyd's wine-fuelled flamboyance that viewers loved.

"That was his charm, completely, the fact that if it all went wrong he just threw it in the bin and carried on," said TV chef Phil Vickery.

He pioneered a new kind of cookery programme driven by his exuberant passion for good food, good wine and a good time
Janice Hadlow
BBC Two controller

"He didn't live in the sanitised world of perfect studio cookery; he was out and about, he loved his drink and he loved engaging with other people."

His former manager Stan Green said Floyd's passing was, "the end of an era for many of us".

"We are aware that Keith enjoyed life to the full, right up to the end, but we may also remember him for the innovative, brilliant Floyd television series."

BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow said Floyd had "pioneered a new kind of cookery programme driven by his exuberant passion for good food, good wine and a good time".

Floyd wrote more than 20 books, many of them best-sellers. His autobiography, Stirred But Not Shaken, is due to be published next month.

An incredible man who lived life to the full and an inspiration to me and to so many others
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver

Mr Steen, the book's ghost-writer, said: "For an autobiography you have to be introspective and he found that difficult to start with, but yesterday when I spoke to him he was a really happy man.

"He was very excited about it. The experience for him was therapeutic."

A lack of business acumen plagued Floyd throughout his career, and he went bankrupt in the 1990s reportedly after a £36,000 cheque he had accepted for a drinks bill bounced.

He was married four times, with a son from his first marriage and a daughter from his second.

Dorset Police said the death had been reported to the coroner for west Dorset, and a routine post-mortem examination would be conducted.

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In Pictures: Keith Floyd
15 Sep 09 |  In Pictures
Obituary: Keith Floyd
15 Sep 09 |  UK

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