Paul Hollywood says he doesn’t play favourites on The Great British Bake-Off and when he overheard two people accusing him of going easy on one contestant recently, he set the record straight.

“Everyone’s got their own opinion on the show and it’s nice to hear,” said Paul, who’ll be presenting a new daytime baking series Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds next month. “I was on the train the other day and two people were talking about the show, but they didn’t realise I was sitting behind them!”

“One of them said: ‘Oh Paul’s definitely showing favouritism towards Ruby!’ and I stood up and said: ‘Can I be honest with you guys? First of all I’m not involved with the way the programme is edited and more importantly, Ruby is one of the best bakers I’ve seen in the past five years, it’s just unfortunate that she’s a young model as well! I always concentrate on what people serve up and I always will…’ – they looked a bit shocked!”

Ruby may be one of the best bakers Paul has seen, but she’s not the only person to impress him on The Great British Bake Off (BBC2, Tuesday) this year.

“The standard has been higher than ever!” he explains. “There have been a couple of bakers that I’ve learned something from, which was very impressive! For the first couple of weeks I couldn’t really criticise any of them. The problem is, as the show goes on viewers get attached to certain people and take it very personally when you criticise their bake – but it’s never personal!”

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