In­ter­view: Mary Berry and Paul Hol­ly­wood

Mary Berry and Paul Hol­ly­wood spill the goss on this year’s se­ries...

No. 1 Magazine - - CONTENTS - With thanks to Bill Gibb at The Sun­day Post.

If, like us, you’ve been hooked on the lat­est se­ries of Great Bri­tish Bake Off, then this is the in­ter­view for you. From find­ing some­one to re­place Nadiya as the reign­ing champ of Bake Off, to how those in­nu­en­dos re­ally came about... Mary Berry and Paul Hol­ly­wood dish up all of the de­li­cious gos­sip on our favourite TV se­ries.

Hi Mary! We heard you have some Scot­tish con­nec­tions, is that true?

I’m very proud of my Scot­tish an­ces­try – my mother was a Scot. She was ac­tu­ally born on the banks of Loch Lomond at Alexan­dria and then went to Glas­gow High. So I cer­tainly feel the Scot­tish con­nec­tion.

Do you think the con­tes­tants are un­der more pres­sure now – es­pe­cially with Nadiya hav­ing done so much since last year?

Mary: They know the stan­dard it is which is now pretty high and I think they were slower to bond this year than they were in the past, but it gets bet­ter and bet­ter, and bet­ter. Each time when I ar­rive and there are 12 it is so daunt­ing, and for me to re­mem­ber all those names! Grad­u­ally the per­son­al­ity builds up be­cause re­mem­ber we don’t spend time early on with our bak­ers which makes it ex­ceed­ingly fair – so it isn’t un­til we get right into the whole sit­u­a­tion that we get to know them. Paul: I think there is an el­e­ment of that a lot, which is re­ally led by the me­dia be­cause at the end of the day if you get be­hind some­one they feel the pres­sure. Nadiya went to a whole new level and be­cause of that the pres­sure is on the con­tes­tants even more. But ac­tu­ally they come out on top – they started ner­vously but once they set­tled into it the bak­ing was re­ally good.

Do you think this se­ries is bet­ter than pre­vi­ous years?

Mary: In dif­fer­ent ways, but then it’s never the same. We can’t make up our mind early on and even on the fi­nal – the three that are there you think you know they are all much of a much­ness, only one mis­take and they are gone.

Do you think the fact it’s a nice show, helps the pop­u­lar­ity of the show?

Mary: It is nice all the way through and we do disagree a bit but at the end of the day all we want is the best baker and how we get there is we both have our own in­di­vid­ual way. It’s al­ways in­ter­est­ing in all your pub­li­ca­tions that are bak­ers when they talk how they talk about the ac­tual Bake Off team re­ally are, Martha [pre­vi­ous con­tes­tant] ac­tu­ally said, “Oh we were all looked af­ter.” But once they are out they can tell you any­thing they want! And you put it in there, so it’s nice when I read it back and they re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate that Bake Off looks af­ter them. Paul:Pa We start in the same sta­tion and end up at the same sta­tion. Some of the bak­ers we were at times de­tached from the out­side wo world, it is lit­er­ally four of us, some bak­ers in the tent and some cam­eras, so we feel to­tally de­tached in this huge thing which is the Bake Off Off. We don’t feel that in the tent at all, we don’tdon feel ner­vous – the bak­ers do feel it but they get used to it get used to the cam­eras then feel to­tally de­tached so on the pro­gramme you see them quite cool, quite mel­low and that’sthat be­cause they feelfe de­tached in a house in the mid­dle of the English coun­try­side miles away from ev­ery­body.ev

We do our job and I think that comes across on cam­era – it’s a mel­low pro­gramme, you want to watch to chill out and I think that’s part of the feel­ing we get in the tent.

Do you think Bake Off would work live?

Paul: I’d love that, we did a live one for the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val for the BBC with a cou­ple of com­mis­sion­ers do­ing the bak­ing live and it was the fun­ni­est thing I’d seen for a while. Mary: It’s amaz­ing how well they did! But I think the thing is that the 12 come and the be­gin­ning is very dif­fi­cult be­cause they don’t know each other – they don’t know if it’s go­ing to be a friend, or how to com­mu­ni­cate with the oth­ers but when a friend­ship builds up, that’s when the pro­gramme re­ally gets go­ing – for me any­way. Paul: Four episodes in I played the theme song for Bake Off on my phone when they walked in and it sud­denly dawns on them where they are.

Would you like to take the show on the road – maybe to the theatre?

Paul: Oh no – it would work fan­tas­ti­cally on stage but it’s ex­haust­ing. Mary: Leave my fam­ily and go off on the road? Oh no! It would not be hap­pen­ing. I mean I love the BBC Good Food Show when the two of us are on stage live in front of 2,000 peo­ple, it’s tremen­dous and enor­mous fun and the au­di­ence love it, but that’s a one-off as far as I’m con­cerned be­cause it’s a great strain be­ing away from home. Go­ing to Bake Off is like join­ing the fam­ily, the whole team, you are thrilled as soon as you walk in, it’s very nice.

There are a lot of in­nu­en­dos on the show...

Paul: When we started, the first words out of Mary’s mouth were ‘nice crack’ and that re­ally set the tone. It was hilarious. Mary: I have real trou­ble and it goes on and all three en­cour­age each other while I’m try­ing to keep them all level and on the job.

Who wears the trousers on Bake Off?

Both: We both do!

How did the weather af­fect this year’s se­ries?

“Nadiya had flair from the be­gin­ning. She con­cen­trated and she grew.”

Paul: It wasn’t the best year, but last year was pretty wet. It’s been very dry but a bit cloudy.

Does the weather ever af­fect the bakes?

Mary: You can be as­sured if we are do­ing choco­late or ice cream it’s al­ways sunny! Paul: We had a yeast chal­lenge and it was a warm day... Mary: That was lucky, but we had one or two sunny days that we could sit out in between which was nice.

Is Bake Off com­pet­i­tive?

Paul: It is. What was cu­ri­ous was that they know when they have done some­thing wrong so although they re­ally want to show off, when we say ‘No I don’t like it’ they get re­ally up­set and no one chas­tises them more than them­selves. Nadiya said in the pa­per that she got up­set about one of the bakes and I whis­pered to her ‘It doesn’t mat­ter’ and I’ve ac­tu­ally done that this year too. It de­pends on how up­set they get and the big hor­ri­ble per­son that I am, you don’t see that I’ll go and have a quiet word. Mary: You’re for­get­ting the looks you give them – that puts the fear of God into them!

What made Nadiya a per­fect winner last year?

Mary: Nadiya had flair from the be­gin­ning, she con­cen­trated, she had ex­cep­tional knowl­edge in her head be­fore she started and we al­ways love a home baker – she’s a nat­u­ral home baker. Her fam­ily ap­pre­ci­ated her and she just grew and grew.

Paul and Mary say they both wear the trousers on the show...

Mary with last year’s winner, Nadiya.

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