Bake Off’s Mary Berry: ‘Nervous new bakers are bound to cut themselves!’

The Great British Bake Off is back! Judge Mary Berry reveals this year's bakers are feeling the pressure from the start...

The Great British Bake Off is back! A batch of 12 new bakers enter the tent for this seventh series and it seems they’re well and truly feeling the heat, as judge and all-round national treasure Mary Berry reveals…

The Great British Bake Off returns for its seventh series this week, how are you feeling?
“When I first arrive and there’s 12 bakers, it’s so daunting having to remember all of those names. But, gradually, the personalities build up and we get to know them all.”

Sounds like you’re more nervous than the bakers! What’s the atmosphere been like in the tent?
“The bakers have been much slower to settle down and bond with each other this time. But, when the friendships develop, that’s when the programme really gets going for me.”

Have there been any disasters in the kitchen?
“The bakers are bound to cut themselves because they’re so nervous to begin with; they’re all looking around, seeing what everyone else is doing because they know the standard now is pretty high.”

So, is the standard even better than previous series?
“In different ways, it’s never the same. We can’t make up our mind early on and, even at the final, the three that are there, you think: ‘I don’t know’. Only one mistake and they’re gone.”

The theme for the first week of the competition is cake. What’s been your favourite week?
“Oh, I must say I like desserts week and iced biscuits week. Oh and we all LOVE a bit of savoury. The crew don’t get a chance to tuck in – we make sure we get our hands on it before they do!”

Who wears the trousers, you or your fellow judge, Paul Hollywood?
“We both wear the trousers on Bake Off! Paul and I disagree a bit but all we want is to find the best baker. We get there in our own individual way.”

Let’s talk about Bake Off hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins – are their innuendos better than ever this series?
“I have real trouble keeping things together when the fun starts. Paul, Mel and Sue encourage each other the whole time, while I’m there trying to keep them all level and saying: ‘Come on, let’s get on with the job!’”

Nadiya Hussain has been unstoppable since winning last year’s Bake Off. What made her the perfect winner?
“Nadiya had flair right from the very beginning; she concentrated and she’d done her research, so she had exceptional knowledge in her head before she started. We always love a home baker and Nadiya’s a natural home baker, and she just grew and grew. She made her mistakes as well but got through them – we were very, very proud of her.”

Do you think Bake Off is still so popular after six series because it’s a nice show?
“Yes, it IS nice, all the way through, so I’m not surprised it’s popular. You know what’s going to happen and there’s no bad language. There’s isn’t another programme on TV where the whole family can sit down together – from the baby to the grandmother – and watch and be enthralled by it.”

Bake Off is a very traditional show…
“Yes it is. There are no gimmicks and everything you see is absolutely genuine; all the judging and everything that goes on, you see it, you see everything and the bakes are achievable. Although, we do have some impossible showstoppers, I know.”

Where’s the strangest place someone’s recognised you because of Bake Off?
“I remember being in the Canary Islands walking along and someone tapped me on the shoulder and said how much more they liked the British Bake Off than the Norwegian or Scandinavian one. So I said: ‘But don’t you like it in your own language?’ And she replied: ‘Certainly not! We like it in English.’”

Do you have to watch your waistline eating all the gorgeous cakes, pies and pastries on Bake Off?
“I don’t go to the gym but I do walk, play tennis and I watch what I eat but I still eat all the things I love. Cake is very important to me… but it’s about the size of the slice!”

The Great British Bake Off starts on Wednesday August 24 at 8pm on BBC1.

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