Paul, Pru, Sandi and Noel on The Great British Bake Off
Paul Hollywood and newcomers Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding on why the baking contest is still the show we know and love…
I’ve watched the first episode and you’ll not know the difference PAUL HOLLYWOOD
Abig white tent nestled in rolling green hills in the picturesque Berkshire countryside? Check. Vintage bunting? Check. A fresh batch of amateur bakers covered in flour and the hum of a dozen food mixers whirling frantically in the background? Double check.
Yes, The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens, and we’re pleased to report that the producers are sticking to the same tried-andtested recipe for series eight.
There are, of course, big changes elsewhere, following the show’s controversial move from BBC1 to its new home on C4.
With Mary Berry’s decision to stay with the Beeb, restaurateur and cookery writer Prue Leith is now going to be casting her expert eye over the bakes, alongside returning judge Paul Hollywood.
Meanwhile, comedian Noel Fielding and QI host Sandi Toksvig take over presenting duties from Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.
During a break in filming, the banter flew thick and fast as
TV Times got Paul, Prue, Sandi and Noel to spill the baking beans about the changes and working together.
Fans are concerned that Bake
Off won’t be same show. What would you say to ease their fears? Paul: I’ve watched the first episode and you’ll not know the difference. The first thing I said was, ‘The
Great British Bake Off is back!’ Noel: The magic ingredient of the show is the bakers – they’re always the stars in each series.
Prue, Sandi and Noel, how will you feel about being compared, as is inevitable, to your predecessors? Prue: It depends what they say. If they say ‘not good enough’, then I will mind a lot.
Sandi: We’ll care if anybody suggests we’ve let the programme down, because it’s a wonderful, much-loved show and you wouldn’t want to wreck that. Noel: None of us came into this wanting to change anything. Sandi and I have different comedy personas – mine’s quite similar to Mel’s. If we were in Doctor Who, Sandi would be the Time Lord and I’d be the dizzy assistant!
Did it feel odd, Paul, stepping into the same tent for the first time with different people?
Paul: Strangely, no. We had dinner together the night before, so when we went into the tent, it didn’t even cross my mind – it feels like I’ve known these guys for years. Prue: And Paul hasn’t called me Mary – not even once! Noel, how did you react when you got the call asking if you’d be interested in the job?
Noel: I said, ‘Have you got the right number?’ They asked if I’d like to work with Sandi – we’ve previously done QI together and we get on really well, so I said yes.
I didn’t know at that point that they were talking about Bake Off. C4 had been looking for this kind of show for me for some time, something that’s not an out-andout comedy, but where I could be charming. [Paul, Prue and Sandi burst out laughing.] It was a mistake, obviously, an admin error!
Noel, how did the news go down with your good friend Mel?
Noel: She was very supportive and said she felt she should pass me some sort of baton – or a baguette! Mel said it’s a lovely job and that there’s lots of cake and tea, and time to sit in the sun in a deckchair. Yesterday, she sent me a text saying, ‘I miss everyone. Please pinch
Paul on the bum for me!’ Were you excited or terrified about joining the show, Sandi? Sandi: What’s not to like? It’s a wonderful programme and the four of us are having a lovely time. I took over QI from Stephen Fry, and you just have to be yourself and enjoy it.
How would you describe your judging style, Prue?
Prue: Paul’s certainly bad cop.
Paul: I’m not! We’re both honest. Prue: Yes, we are. It’s a kind show, but I’m capable of saying, ‘It’s just not worth the calories’. That isn’t my catchphrase, but I’d like it to be!
Sandi and Noel, what was your baking knowledge before this? Sandi: Extensive TV watching! Noel: Sandi can bake. Normally, I don’t go in the kitchen as I’m not allowed near hot or sharp things! Funnily, I now keep finding myself saying things like, ‘That’s the wrong kind of gelatin’. Paul: The amount of cake I’ve seen these two stuffing away has been quite marvellous.
Noel: I don’t know what I’m going to do – no one likes a tubby goth! Sandi: I’ll still love you.
Can you give us a flavour of this year’s bakers?
Prue: The mix is fantastic.
Paul: They’re the best we’ve ever had, and it’s made judging much tougher. I gave out four handshakes one week! I’ve had to move my bar up – they’ll never cross it now.
Will there still be plenty of kitchen-inspired innuendoes? Paul: I’ve said a few soggy bottoms. Noel: It’s as filthy as ever. I thought Sandi was going to fall over when Paul said to Prue, ‘Nice crack’!
I’m not usually a pun-man, but
I’m really enjoying it.
Finally, will you watch the first episode together as it airs?
Noel: Yes, at Paul’s home.
Paul: I’ll get the pizzas ready.
Prue: You get better wine at Paul’s house than at Noel’s place.
Noel: I’m more of an absinthe fan...
Tasty line-up: Noel, Sandi and Prue join old hand Paul
Baker’s dozen: The 12 contestants looking to win the 2017 crown
Soggy bottoms: Innuendoes and
puns are still key ingredients