Brits Angry at BBC for Cutting Massive Recipe Website—One Man Solved It in 8 Hours

May 17, 2016 Updated: October 5, 2018

Urged by government to save money, BBC decided to nix its recipe website—much to the chagrin of many a Briton.

But, one web developer single-handedly solved most of the issue and it only took him several hours.

BBC announced on May 17 it will be cutting back on its online services to achieve savings prescribed by the government.

Among others, the BBC Food website was to be scrapped, together with its library of some 11,000 recipes.

That didn’t sit well with many. Emma Barrington from London set up a petition pleading with BBC to keep the recipes. It has attracted about 160,000 signatures by 8:15 p.m. (Eastern Time).

The BBC issued a clarification stating that the recipes won’t be lost. They’ll be archived, blocked from search engines like Google, but accessible if a person has a link of a specific recipe page.

It also promised to “migrate as much of the content as possible” to its commercial website

But that didn’t seem to satisfy the BBC foodies.

“This would be a loss too far!! Will I even survive on cheese on toast, forever more?” Twitter user Emma Wilcock commented.

“Today will mainly consist of writing out every single one of the #bbcrecipes so I have record of them & I don’t eat beans/toast until I’m 70,” tweeted Olivia Grace.

Meanwhile, web developer Howard Yeend of Northampton asked an inconspicuous question: “Should I build a free web archive of the bbc recipes? I have a brilliant idea for what to call it.”

About 8 hours later he was done. “Very quick and dirty recipe search is now live,” he tweeted. He set up a website that allows searching the BBC Food database and provides the specific links that will be needed to access the recipes after they are archived. It even has a vegetarian-only search option.

A quick search for “cheese” offered up 20 recipes in order of most-liked, with Cheese Scones at the top. “My mother’s cheese and onion pie” came in second, followed by “Perfect cauliflower cheese with bacon and mushrooms.”

The name “AuntiesRecipes” is a pun on an old nickname of BBC’s—”Auntie.” It’s origin seems uncertain, but it’s been connected with a saying “Auntie knows best.” 

Every Brit watching live television has to pay almost £150 (over $210) a year for BBC, which doesn’t sell advertising. But BBC needs the government to renew its charter every 11 years and the current one expires in December.

The government prescribed savings of £800 million (close to $1.2 billion) by 2021—about one-sixth of the BBC 2015 budget.

Slimming of the digital services is supposed to save £15 million (almost $22 million).

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