Delia Smith as you've never seen her before

Jon WelchAs the undisputed queen of TV cookery, Delia Smith's image has always been closer to mumsy than raunchy.Jon Welch

As the undisputed queen of TV cookery, Delia Smith's image has always been closer to mumsy than raunchy.

She has even been dubbed Saint Delia for her straightforward, fail-safe recipes and her squeaky-clean persona.

But now she has revealed how she used to get told off for wearing short skirts while working as a waitress at the restaurant where her culinary career began.

Delia, now 68, was reprimanded for her daring attire while opening bottles of wine at tables.

Delia, who previously had a stint as a photographic swimwear model, demonstrated how she would open the bottles: 'I used to have a mini-skirt on. If I did waitressing and I couldn't pull the cork out of the bottle, I would put it between my ankles like this - and I used to get told off because I had a mini skirt.'

Delia, who with husband Michael Wynn Jones is Norwich City's joint majority shareholder, makes her confession in a new BBC show celebrating her career, Delia Through The Decades, to be screened this month.

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The programme celebrates her 40 years on television, including archive footage from the 1960s and 1970s.

It also considers the impact she has had on Britain's eating habits as she became the country's most trusted celebrity cook.

Delia, now considered a national treasure, had her first break in the food business when she was a waitress at The Singing Chef restaurant in Paddington, London, in the 1960s.

She returns to the restaurant for the series and is reunited with fellow staff and the then owner, chef Leo Evans.

"If it wasn't for this restaurant and if it wasn't for Leo, I wouldn't have had a career at all,' she said.

The presenter also reveals how she was unaware one of her most widely-seen creations was destined to end up on the sleeve of a top-selling album.

Delia famously made the cake on the cover of the Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed and owns a framed image of the sleeve signed by frontman Sir Mick Jagger.

In the first episode of the new BBC2 series, she says: "One morning I got a call from a photographer who said 'Could you do Tuesday this week? I need a really gaudy cake - it's got to look really gaudy and horrible'.

"So I went along with my gaudy cake and I didn't know until I actually got to the studio that it was the cover of a Stones album.'

She said she was delighted by the commission: "I was a huge Stones fan. I went to see them live when they were in concert. I had all their albums - I still have got them.'

Delia Through The Ages is on BBC2 at 8.30pm on Monday.