We talk to the new line-up

Sandi Toksvig, Paul Hol­ly­wood, Noel Field­ing and Prue Leith on tak­ing Bake Off for­ward in its new home…

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The Great Bri­tish Bake Off may be re­turn­ing to a new chan­nel – Chan­nel 4 – with a brand new line-up – Sandi Toksvig, Noel Field­ing, Prue Leith and orig­i­nal judge Paul Hol­ly­wood – but the tried and tested for­mat def­i­nitely hasn’t been changed. And while 12 new bak­ers were busy shed­ding blood, sweat and tears as they bat­tled it out in the fa­mous white tent to wow the na­tion with their cre­ations, Now caught up with GBBO’S stars to find out what we can ex­pect, whether they re­ally get on and why this year’s bak­ers are in a class of their own…

Prue, Sandi and Noel, when you got the call to sign up for this year’s GBBO, what was your ini­tial re­ac­tion?

Prue: When I heard Mary was leav­ing, I can’t pre­tend it didn’t cross my mind that it would be nice for some­one else to get the job. But then I quickly dis­missed it. My agent later rang to ask if I wanted to meet Paul and it turned out to be a full-scale au­di­tion with peo­ple pre­tend­ing to be bak­ers! Once I’d got the of­fer, I did phone Mary up to find out what Paul was like to work with. She told me he knows his stuff.

Sandi: I have a sim­i­lar story. I heard Mary was leav­ing and I thought I’d be per­fect for the job. It stopped only at my limited knowl­edge of bak­ing! Noel: I asked if they’d got the right phone num­ber! Mel [Giedroyc] is a friend of mine and she was re­ally sup­port­ive. She told me it was such a lovely job, I’d eat lots of cake and there would be lots of time to sit in the sun in a deckchair.

So what was it like walk­ing into the tent for the first time?

Sandi: What’s not to like? It’s a won­der­ful pro­gramme and you don’t think it’s ter­ri­fy­ing. You think: ‘Lucky me! This is go­ing to be great.’ It’s hard to get your head around how many peo­ple it takes to make the show. Prue: I was amazed at how big the tent is. I’d never been in a stu­dio the size of that tent.

Have you made many changes to Bake Off?

Paul: It’s the same show. If you go to a fac­tory mak­ing parts, you change the staff but the ma­chin­ery still works the same. The ma­chin­ery is the crew – and they know what they’re do­ing. To be hon­est, by the fi­nal, it felt as though I’d been work­ing with these guys for years.

How about the in­nu­en­dos? Didn’t Sue [Perkins] say she ran out of them by the end?

Paul: She was still do­ing them on the last day! We’ve got

‘Mary told me Paul knows his stuff’

dif­fer­ent peo­ple in and dif­fer­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent an­gles to work with Bake Off. I’ve heard things from these two that have cracked me up and that I’ve never heard be­fore in seven years of the show. Noel: A lot of the hu­mour comes from the for­mat.

What are you like as a judge, Prue – as harsh as Paul?

Prue: [Laughs] You’re go­ing to have to an­swer that, Paul! I just say what I think. Paul: The stan­dard this year was so good, so to cri­tique, we just cri­tique. Prue is very strong. She’s a Miche­lin star chef and you don’t get bet­ter cre­den­tials than that. Prue’s de­liv­ery within five min­utes was great.

So what are the bak­ers like?

Paul: The stan­dard of the bak­ing was an­noy­ingly good; I mean that in a nice way. They’d re­ally gone to town on find­ing out how to do things prop­erly. Prue: I’ve made more cakes in the last 10 weeks than I have in the last 25 years. The con­tes­tants have in­spired me.

Sandi: The judg­ing has fin­ished, the cam­eras have stopped rolling and the four of us are still sit­ting in the tent eat­ing be­cause it’s so de­li­cious.

And are you any good at bak­ing, Sandi and Noel?

Sandi: Let’s say I am!

Noel: I’m not al­lowed to cook. I’m not al­lowed to do hot things! In a funny kind of way it helps when you don’t know be­cause you ask ques­tions.

Have you been wor­ried about putting on weight?

Sandi: I’m go­ing on hol­i­day soon. Most peo­ple eat and

‘I’ll be di­et­ing when I go on hol­i­day’

drink too much on hol­i­day, but I’m plan­ning to diet. And drink wa­ter.

Noel: I don’t know what I’m go­ing to do. No­body likes a tubby goth!

What’s the at­mos­phere like in the tent?

Paul: There’s a ‘Bake Off bub­ble’. It feels like you’re at a fes­ti­val for 12 weeks. Once you go through the gates where we film the show, all the peo­ple out­side don’t mat­ter any more.

Have you de­vel­oped a catch­phrase yet?

Prue: I say things like: ‘It’s not worth the calo­ries.’ You know when we were talk­ing just then about how you get fat on the show? I’ve been strug­gling with my weight all my life. I know how many calo­ries I’m up to in a day. I know when I pass the fa­mous 2,000 mark.

It sounds like you’re all get­ting on re­ally well…

Paul: Well, we’re plan­ning a Bake Off party in a se­cret lo­ca­tion later this year. We’re go­ing to have a pizza night. Noel: I wish you’d come slightly ear­lier as the four of us were play­ing ping-pong!

Will you be look­ing at Twitter once the first show goes out?

Noel: Are you out of your mind? I’m go­ing to throw my phone in the ocean! How does that help? You can only do the best job you can. I’ve seen [the rushes] and I think the se­ries is good. But I’m only a tiny part of the show.

Paul: I’ve seen the first episode. The first thing I say is: ‘Bake Off is back!’

The Great Bri­tish Bake Off starts on Chan­nel 4 at 8pm on Tues­day 29 Au­gust

‘We were in a Bake Off bub­ble’

Only here for the cake (l-r): Paul, Prue, Noel and Sandi

Mix­ing it up: two star chefs and a cook­ery novice The show’s filmed at lav­ish Welford Park, Berk­shire All set for ac­tion: the GBBO kitchen awaits the bak­ers

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