As The Great British Bake Off gets underway, What’s on TV talked to judge Paul Hollywood, who revealed he prefers a pie to cake any day, and what we can expect from the new series in the weeks ahead…

What’s different about Bake Off this year?


“When you look at Bake Off this year, cake only plays a small part. We do pies, puddings, bread, and pastries. We’ve got some fantastic technical challenges, and there’s a lot more diversity into European-style baking. We’ve also got a couple of big ‘wow!’ bakes.”



Are the new contestants up to the new challenges?


“The standard of baking is exceptionally high this year – more so than any other year. Our contestants are very comfortable in their own skills and what they can do. They feel like proper bakers and that’s fascinating to watch.”



With such high standards is it a bit of a relief when things go wrong?

“There is a benefit, as it shows everyone is fallible. If everyone was perfect all the time, it would be pretty boring! The point is, how to fix it? Mary and I have to be apart from the contestants and judge what’s on the plate. The first time I know their back-stories is when I watch the programme.”



Can we expect any particular styles or flavours this year?

“There are a lot of elaborate tiered cakes this year, using several techniques. They’re big, bold and in your face. So it seems the contestants are architects as well as bakers! We also see lots of lemon flavours, as contestants now know what Mary and I like and don’t like! Bake Off is a trendsetter. Supermarkets would love to get hold of the technical challenges and put them in the store, as things [featured] on the show tend to sell out the next day!”



Will we see you and co-judge Mary Berry disagree much?


“We have healthy chats! But there’s nothing abnormal about that. It comes down to integrity and we know what we’re talking about. It’s been really tricky picking the star baker this year. Someone [good] will always slip through the net.”



Does it get difficult having to eat all those cakes?

“I’m sick of cakes! Personally I prefer savoury to sweet, like pies. After four years, even the crew are more likely to devour a savoury bake quicker than a cake!



The Great British Bake Off premieres on BBC1 on Wednesday, August 6 and is followed by a new spin-off show, The Extra Slice, hosted by Jo Brand, immediately after on BBC2.