The focus of this chapter is the British daytime television cookery programme in the 1940s and 1950s, and its participation in the discursive construction of post-war British domestic femininities.1 ‘Lifestyle’ television in Britain has been increasingly a focus of scholarship and much of this work has focused on the role of this kind of television in producing historically specifi c gendered identities.2 In this chapter, I take a key moment in the history of this television genre-the emergence of the cookery show after the return of the television service between June 1946 and April 1947-and explore its signifi cance in constructing domestic British femininities in the postwar period. In particular, I am interested here in thinking about the ways in which the work of Marguerite Patten, one of the fi rst British television cookery presenters and a prolifi c cookery writer, can be seen to have attended to questions we would now understand as engaging with a feminist agenda. In her concern with the life of the working woman, Patten acknowledged the diffi culties experienced by the woman both running a home and doing paid work outside, and offered suggestions to help women manage their domestic and professional responsibilities. Equally, the practices of television archiving remain a feminist issue: little audiovisual material remains from this early period, and particularly from those genres which were clearly marked as ‘television for women’.3 I have used a combination of archival materials (papers, letters, memos and fl oor plans held at the BBC’s Written Archives Centre at Caversham, and the Radio Times) and oral history methods-a long, semistructured interview with Marguerite Patten4-to think about the signifi cance of these early programmes for women and to examine their role in addressing and producing British postwar femininities. These programmes work towards producing a vision of British postwar womanhood as, in a complex way, simultaneously in the home and outside it, a fi gure both with enormous responsibility and expertise and in need of (re)education and support. In the discourses surrounding this programming, there is both recognition of woman’s knowledge and skill and emphasis on her role as a trainee within the home. In this respect then, Teresa de Lauretis’ notion of “technologies of gender” remains eminently useful in thinking about the ways in which cultural products and practices shape

identity, representation and self-representation in particular, historically determined and determining ways (2). My particular interest is in Patten’s perhaps unexpectedly feminist address to the fi gures of the housewife and the woman working outside the home-and the intersection of the two, which, while often obscured in popular memory and public discourse, has been recently attended to in scholarship and emerges as central to Patten’s address to the woman watching daytime television in the 1940s and 1950s. Here, there is evidence of a feminist recognition of women’s diffi cult dual role, and an attempt to address it in practical, everyday ways.In this chapter, I begin to explore, from a feminist perspective, the ways in which British television has simultaneously offered and refused an address to the woman working both within and outside the home.