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…

TV Times - - Contents - The Great Bri­tish Bake Off TUES­DAY / C4 / 8.00Pm

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...

Sarah Sel­wood

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Baker’s dozen: The 12 con­tes­tants look­ing to win the 2017 crown

Soggy bot­toms: In­nu­en­does and

puns are still key in­gre­di­ents

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