TV chefs: the perfect recipe for a movie character

Anne Hathaway has admitted to channelling Nigella's 'sensuality' for her White Queen in Alice in Wonderland. But she's only blown the whistle on the greatest source of character inspiration in modern cinema

Aside from the boycott drama and the mixed reviews, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland has drawn attention for one reason: Anne Hathaway's portrayal of the White Queen. Apparently, it's based entirely on Nigella Lawson. Tim Burton hinted as much last month, noting Lawson's ability to look "really nuts", and Hathaway herself confirmed the rumours this week by praising Lawson's "passion" and "sensuality".

To the uninitiated, all this Nigella talk might seem like nothing more than a cheap ploy to get a few more dads to go to the pictures. But in reality Burton and Hathaway are simply tapping into a long history of movie characters based on television chefs. It's a little-known fact that almost every cook on TV at the moment has, somewhere down the line, inspired an iconic cinematic role. Nigella is merely the latest. Here are some of the others ...

Gordon Ramsay

Ben Kingsley was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his electric performance as Don Logan in Sexy Beast. He failed to win either award, which must have been galling for Gordon Ramsay. After all, he was probably expecting an acceptance speech shout-out for providing the framework for all the violent swearing, broken logic and total self-centred obliviousness that Kingsley put into the role.

Jamie Oliver

As weird as it seems to say this now, the highlight of forgotten, decade-too-late British rave movie Human Traffic was probably Danny Dyer. His character Moff was such an outrageously self-satisfied, over-exaggerated cartoon mockney that he could have only been inspired by Jamie Oliver's early work. Jamie still casts a vast shadow over Danny's life, too – after seeing Jamie's landmark campaign to improve the quality of school dinners, Danny made a slightly ropey BBC3 documentary about how he thought that aliens were probably real, which is more or less exactly the same thing.

Marco Pierre White

This depends on who you ask. Ask Marco himself and he'd probably proclaim himself to be the primary influence on Russell Crowe's role in Gladiator, due to his inspirational oratory skills, fierce temperament and ability to inspire unyielding loyalty in his men. Ask anyone else and they'd probably say that, if he inspired anything at all, it was Brian Glover's delusional turn in Kes.

Gary Rhodes

What made Robert Patrick's performance as the T-1000 in Terminator 2 so chilling was the personable exterior that masked his true dead-eyed, mechanical identity. Would he have been able to nail this without watching at least one episode of Gary Rhodes's New British Classics? Hardly. Gary Rhodes invented that schtick.

Gino D'Acampo

Ask yourself this: would Nicolas Cage have eaten a live cockroach in 1988's Vampire's Kiss if Gino D'Acampo hadn't killed and cooked a rat for his dinner in last year's I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here? Doubtful.

Antony Worrall Thompson

Gwildor from Masters of the Universe, obviously. Or that Corsican bloke from A Prophet.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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