Paul Hollywood: ‘By week 4 I knew the three people who’d be in the Bake Off final’

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry talk to TV Times magazine about next week’s upcoming final of The Great British Bake Off!

Are you surprised by any of the finalists?
Paul: “No I’m not. By episode four, dessert week, I had three people in mind for the final and all three are in it. The right people have made it.”
Mary: “I agree. It’s just as Paul and I predicted. I don’t think we’ve had a closer final in terms of them being so evenly matched.”

There are some very tough challenges in the final. Does everyone keep their cool?
Mary: “We have a bit of temperament in the tent. But come on, it was one of the hottest years we’ve had and things like chocolate do not like a warm tent! The bakers definitely have more problems to get over.”
Paul: “Their hands were shaking throughout. This is the most nail-biting final ever and we have made it difficult.”

Do you think this year’s challenges were the toughest ever?
Mary: “Yes, I think we made a few challenges too hard, too complicated. Even mid-way through, our technical challenges were too hard. The bakers achieved them, but I’d rather they had made something simpler but absolutely perfect.”
Paul: “Too hard? No such thing! I just mark what I see on the plate and in the final I mark fairly. And I’m not so tough! One of the bakers broke down and started crying as they walked back to their bench and I went over and gave them a hug. Me! I told them it was just a TV show.”
Mary: “Lies, lies! He’s just trying to recreate himself as Mr Softie when we all know he’s not. It was just a moment of madness when he almost became human!”

In the end though were you impressed?
Paul: “Their bakes are awesome. Their creativity, innovation and technique shine through and the standard is the highest we’ve ever had. Wednesday’s final is unbelievable. The winner could definitely have a career in baking if they wanted it.”

TV Times asked the remaining four how Bake Off  has been for them…

Luis Troyano, 42, graphic designer from Cheshire

How does it feel to get this far?
“I never thought I would get here, so absolutely ecstatic. I’m really happy I’ve done so well.”

What was your best bake?
“My rye bread rolls because Paul Hollywood shook my hand and you don’t expect that on any level.”

What was your worst bake?
“My self-saucing puddings went wrong. I had a gut feeling they weren’t great at the time. Sometimes you just can’t nail a recipe.”

Strangest Bake Off moment?
“Every time Mary and Paul are at your bench asking you what you’re making is surreal – they’re held in such high esteem.”

What’s your Bake Off dream?
“It was simply to get to the tent; anything after was a bonus. I just wanted the experience and haven’t thought about what’s next.”

Nancy Birtwhistle, 60, retired practice manager from Lincolnshire

How does it feel to get this far?
“I never even practised for the semi-finals because I never dreamed I’d get there. I don’t feel that well prepared, but I’m thrilled at the same time.”

What was your best bake?
“My week one showstopper, chocolate jaffa cakes. I’d given myself so much to do, but they turned out lovely. Paul and Mary were so complimentary.”

What was your worst bake?
“My tropical Savarin – everything about it was wrong. It was a disaster and shows you everyone can do rubbish things.”

Strangest Bake Off moment?
“The funniest was forgetting Paul’s name and referring to him as the ‘male judge’. I was focusing on my bake and not concentrating on what I was saying!  After that Paul started each day saying, ‘Morning female contestant!’”

What’s your Bake Off dream?
“Just to pass on my baking knowledge to my eight grandchildren and anyone who’ll take it. I even taught my hairdresser how to bake!”

Richard Burr, 38, builder from north London

How does it feel to get this far?
“I feel incredibly lucky and knackered! My main plan was to reach week two.”

What was your best bake?
“I loved making éclairs in week seven. I really enjoyed myself.”

What was your worst bake?
“Crikey, there were so many. My bad bakes were absolutely terrible and I don’t think I’ll ever forget pears wrapped in pastry. They were a disaster and they keep showing clips on TV!”

Strangest Bake Off moment?
“My eldest daughter rang me after I’d just been talking to Mary outside the tent. Mary had sauntered off, but I got Nancy to pretend to be Mary and talk to her on the phone – excellent wind up!”

What’s your Bake Off dream?
“Graft has got me here. I’d just hate to fall at the final hurdle.”

 

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