Holby City’s Tina Hobley: ‘Celebrity MasterChef was more difficult than I expected’

Having played ward sister Chrissie Williams in Holby City for 12 years, Tina Hobley, 43, is used to getting her hands dirty. But now she is embarking on a new challenge as she competes on BBC1’s Celebrity MasterChef, presented by John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

Tina will battle against singer Kiki Dee, actors Christopher Biggins and Jason Connery and presenter Charley Boorman in the contest.

The mum of three, who first found fame as Samantha Failsworth in Coronation Street, admits she was surprised by how tough the tasks were.

“Celebrity MasterChef was far more difficult than I expected. The pressure is really on during filming, especially when a dish doesn’t go quite to plan,” Tina told the Daily Express.

Here she spills the beans about her time in the MasterChef kitchen…

Why did you decide to compete on Celebrity MasterChef?
“My husband [Oliver Wheeler] prepares all the meals in our house and I’d completely lost any interest in cooking. He’s so good in the kitchen the children will wait for him to get up to make breakfast rather than let me do it. Despite not being the best cook, I’m a huge MasterChef fan and love the show, so when this opportunity came about I thought it would be a great way of falling in love with cooking again and getting some confidence back. And I have fallen in love with it again.”

What did your family and friends think about you taking part?
“They all laughed. One of my closest friends, whom I’ve known for 20 years, said she’d never seen me cook anything. So she thought it was hilarious that I was going to go on TV and show off my very limited skills.”

What preparation did you do?
“The preparation was fun because all my friends tried to help me out by cooking for me and showing me some recipes. I was going to a lot of dinner parties so they could impart some of their knowledge.”

What was it like when you had to walk on to the MasterChef set?
“I was absolutely terrified. Nobody can prepare you for it and I felt incredibly anxious. I thought it was all going to be for show and once the cameras were off John and Gregg would stop being so intimidating – but they didn’t. It’s not an act and they take the competition very seriously.”

How did you control your nerves?
“I laughed a lot. I was with the wonderful Christopher Biggins, who had me in stitches. We were all supportive of each other and we’re hoping to meet up for dinner soon.”

What was it like going to work in a professional kitchen?
“Being in a professional kitchen is brilliant. It’s seriously hard work but also a wonderful experience. The adrenaline rush was incredible. If I’m shown something and I have to remember how to do it for a short time, I can do it. That was the bit I really enjoyed. I have so much respect for those who do it day in, day out, especially now I know how much work goes into creating each dish.”

Why do you think cookery programmes such as MasterChef are so popular?
“It’s aspirational TV. Most of us aspire to be good cooks, just as we watch programmes like Grand Designs because we dream of owning a nice home. We like being inspired and picking up tips and ideas. Also, the tension on MasterChef, which I now know is completely real, is quite addictive to watch.”

You left Holby City last year after 12 years on the show. Do you miss it?
“It still hasn’t sunk in because I’m so busy. I have three kids, I’m doing a weekly radio show and I’m looking at doing a new project at the end of the year, so I haven’t really stopped since leaving Holby. I love Holby and only have good memories because it played such a big part in my life. But I also feel happy to have moved on to the next chapter.”

You present a Sunday show on Smooth Radio. Do you enjoy it?
“I can’t tell you how much I love it. I’m having the best time. I love learning a new skill as it’s very different from any other work I’ve done. It takes a long time to get used to the radio studio and to know exactly what you are doing. The main reason I left Holby was so I could try new things, which is why I’m doing MasterChef and radio. It’s really good to push yourself.”

Would you consider doing any other reality shows?
“I don’t think so. I don’t consider MasterChef a reality show because I’ve learned so much. I’d much rather be in the kitchen getting stuck in than wearing a sequinned dress.”

Celebrity MasterChef continues on BBC1 on Thursday, June 26, 9.00pm (Tina’s heat begins on Wednesday, July 2).