‘If I were to change, my mum would let me know real quick!’

Smi­ley and en­er­getic, Liam Charles won over the na­tion on Bake Off, so it’s no sur­prise he’s landed his own show, says Ge­or­gia Humphreys

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - WEEKEND TV -

You wouldn’t be­lieve Liam Charles is only 21. Great Bri­tish Bake Off con­tes­tant, cook­book writer and now the face of his very own TV show, the Hack­ney-born drama stu­dent, nick­named Cake Boy by his friends, is tick­ing off lots of goals. With his Chan­nel 4 se­ries, Liam Bakes, he hopes to prove that bak­ing can bring peo­ple to­gether. He em­barks on a per­sonal culinary cru­sade to share his favourite recipes while giv­ing an in­sight into his east Lon­don life.

“Ev­ery­one does mu­sic and sport and that’s amaz­ing, but it will be nice for peo­ple like me to show peo­ple in my area there’s more to life than just that,” he says of be­ing a role model for young peo­ple. “Do what­ever you want, as long as it’s pos­i­tive.”

With the se­ries filmed in and around east Lon­don, we will see Charles, who started bak­ing when he was 15, take to the streets of his com­mu­nity to show off the street food he loves to eat when out with his friends.

Mean­while, as he show­cases easy-to-fol­low sweet and savoury bakes, we will also learn how he has been in­spired by the peo­ple clos­est to him.

“There’s four recipes per episode. They’re not themed, but each recipe has its dis­tinc­tive iden­tity,” elab­o­rates the pre­sen­ter, who we also saw co-host Bake Off: The Pro­fes­sion­als ear­lier this year, along­side co­me­dian Tom Allen.

“There’s one recipe, an ice-cream sand­wich, and it’s so cool. On each side there’s a dif­fer­ent top­ping — bis­cuits, Smar­ties, pop­corn — and ice-cream be­tween two bis­cuits.”

With his univer­sity pals, the ex­citable young­ster cooks “na­cho or­di­nary tor­tilla chips” — a sweet take on na­chos.

Mean­while, his neph­ews, aged 12 and seven, join him on cam­era to help make a “mas­sive” layer cake.

Do they think their un­cle is re­ally cool?“My youngest one, yeah, I think he thinks I’m cool,” replies Charles, with a cheeky grin.

“My el­dest nephew kind of plays it down. He was telling me some of his friends and all of the teach­ers al­ways want to talk to him now. He was like, ‘I get so an­noyed be­cause they al­ways talk about you’.”

His fam­ily and friends chip­ping in to help make the show is some­thing Charles seems par­tic­u­larly proud of.

“They’re from all walks of life as well, so it’s very in­clu­sive bak­ing and cook­ing,” he says, adding that he loved get­ting to make savoury scones with his mum.

“My mum’s not a mas­sive fan of the cam­era, but I said, ‘Come on, you’ve got to do it’, and then she was fine af­ter the first two min­utes. It’s been a while since I baked with my mum, but it was fun. She likes to think she knows best.”

Asked if he found it chal­leng­ing to let cam­eras into his per­sonal life, Charles is non­plussed.

“I don’t have any­thing to hide, it was fine. I’m so proud of my com­mu­nity, it was great to have it on cam­era.”

And Bake Off fans will be chuffed to hear that his nan, who he men­tioned a lot while on the re­al­ity show, has a cameo, when she is speak­ing to Charles on the phone.

“It’s crazy for her. She used to buy me flour and eggs be­cause I was on stu­dent fi­nance,” he says. “And she still wants to chip in — she doesn’t 100% get that I’m earn­ing money. She told me to get a part-time job the other day,” he adds with a chuckle.

Al­though de­light­fully witty and warm, Charles is qui­eter at times than I ex­pected him to be — per­haps he’s a bit over­whelmed by the po­si­tion he finds him­self in.

In­deed, he says he pinches him­self every day about how his life has changed since be­ing on Bake Off, in which he fin­ished fifth.

“At first I thought I was such a dough­nut. I was like, ‘Oh Liam, why are you do­ing all this weird stuff ?’,” he jokes when asked about watch­ing the show back.

“You can never an­tic­i­pate how peo­ple will re­ceive you, but it was mad. Every day was like, ‘I can’t be­lieve this is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing’.”

With such a crazy year be­hind him — and many more to come, no doubt — he feels lucky to have friends and fam­ily keeping him grounded. “If I changed in the slight­est, my mum would tell me real quick,” he jokes.

For now, Charles has his stud­ies at Gold­smiths Univer­sity to fin­ish — and he’s still keen to be an ac­tor in the fu­ture.

“Drama was my first pas­sion be­fore I started bak­ing,” he says. “If it hap­pens, it hap­pens, but in a cou­ple of years’ time I def­i­nitely want to be in The Avengers.” And that’s not his only big aim in life. “The ul­ti­mate goal is to be­come a house­hold name in bak­ing. So when they say, ‘There’s Paul Hollywood, there’s Mary Berry, there’s Nigella, there’s Liam Charles’, that’s the ul­ti­mate goal.”

Liam Bakes, Chan­nel 4, Mon­day, 8pm

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