Nadiya Hussain reveals she didn’t realise The Great British Bake Off was going to change her life! How wrong she was...

Winning The Great British Bake Off in 2015 has transformed the life of Luton-born Nadiya Hussain. In the last year she’s made Mary Berry cry, published a book, and baked for the Queen. What’s on TV talked to the expressive baker, who’s setting off for a new food inspired adventure to her ancestral homeland of Bangladesh in a two-part BBC series starting on Wednesday called The Chronicles of Nadiya

Why do you think the Bake Off audience fell in love with you?
“I don’t get it! My husband always says I’m very good at being myself. And that’s all I can be, myself. Even when I was nervous about filming Bake Off he said ‘Go on, be yourself, be dopey, and don’t be anybody else!’ So that’s me being myself and dopey, and people like that!”

Before Bake Off were you aware you’d a wide range of facial expressions?
“It’s really weird because you don’t see yourself. I don’t spend much time in the mirror talking to myself so I don’t know what my face does!”

How did you feel when you watched Bake Off for the first time then?
“It was really weird when I watched myself back – why does my face do that? I didn’t realise you can read every expression on my face. My first question was ‘Why did no one tell me?’”

Mary Berry and Nadiya Hussain with their BAFTAs

Mary Berry and Nadiya Hussain with their BAFTAs

 

Your next TV project is The Chronicles of Nadiya. What appealed to you about doing this series?
“It seemed like a no-brainer to do this show. I was born in England and spent every summer in my family’s rural village. But I’ve not been back in ten years. It’s the longest I’ve been away from Bangladesh. Plus, I wanted to top up on Vitamin D! It was 42 degrees – I used to think I didn’t tan, but I do!”

What happens during the two-part series?
“In the first episode I spend a lot of time in my family’s rural village. The show is about family and food. I spend a lot of time cooking – fish, a cake and traditional sweets – and rediscovering something emotional. Then I explore wider Bangladesh and a lot of it surprised me. I even went fishing with otters!”

How has life been since winning Bake Off last summer?
“When Bake Off finished I genuinely thought I’d fly under the radar! It’s really helped my confidence. Normally I’d never have said yes to anything because I’m frightened of everything. But I welcome that now. Bake Off frightened me and I did it anyway. Since winning I live each day as it’s happening. I don’t expect anything from tomorrow, and that’s why I enjoy today. Everything has a sell-by date, and with the next lot [of Bake Off contestants] coming out, I probably do, so I’m enjoying this moment!”

Nadiya Hussain and the Queen

Baking a cake for Queen Elizabeth II is very far from flying under the radar!

 

You’ve become a representative for multicultural Britain. Does that add pressure to your life?
“I didn’t go into Bake Off thinking that would happen. It’s lovely when people say I’m a great role model, but I can’t fly the flag for any community and I’m not perfect. The only thing I can be is me. I love when people stop me to chat about these things, it’s a great privilege and an honour, but I can only be me.”

Nadiya’s two-part culinary adventure The Chronicles of Nadiya begins on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC1