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The Great British Bake Off
The Great British Bake Off returns for its most fiercely-contested series yet, with Paul Hollywood once more critiquing the contestants’ creations.
We’re massive fans of The Great British Bake Off. When you were first pitched the show, surely you didn’t imagine it was going to be such a big hit?
No. For some years now I’ve been knocking on doors wanting to do a baking programme — and I had done a few — but when they told me about this one, and that it was going to be prime time on BBC2, I went, ‘Are you serious?’ When they assured me they were, I was like, ‘This is right up my alley! This is what I do!’ But I had no idea people would find this baking lark so interesting. I mean, I love it, it’s part of what I do, but actually everyone’s taken it to heart. It’s become a national treasure, which is incredible.
Were you surprised about how detailed they wanted you to be in your judging?
I just ended up doing what I do in my everyday work, and it was what people wanted. The whole thing about The Great British Bake Off is, from our point of view, to get people baking, to get people to understand what it’s all about. And it’s worked! Folk out there are actually making things and tweeting them to me. So there’s a huge interest and long may it continue. I don’t think we’ve done anything special with the programme, but I do think baking has always been part of our culture, whether it’s your grandma or your granddad, your mum, your dad or your sister, it’s something we can all do and something that relates to when most of us were young.
So baking is part of who we are?
I think so. There are some great recipes in this country and we try to highlight them. For example, when we did pork pies last year, it was one of the biggest downloaded recipes from the website.
You and Mary Berry have been described as the best reality show judges on TV. What do you think of that?
Well, we are judges, in that we cast our eye over something. But the best reality judges? That’s not for us to say. Mary and I don’t say what we do on the show for effect, we’re saying it because it’s correct. For both of us it’s about integrity. We judge the product, what’s on the plate — pure and simple. I don’t care what the circumstances are for the contestants. I don’t want it to get personal, it’s entirely based on the product.
This year the show’s been filmed in the picturesque grounds of Harptree Court in Somerset. How was the weather?
Oh, poor. The noise of the rain on the tent was a bit of a problem. But the setting was unbelievable — the best we’ve been in. The views were incredible. It was just magic.