Great British Bake Off Q&A

Waitrose Weekend chats puns and pastry
with the new Great British Bake Off team:
judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, and
presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.

Question 1

Is it still Bake Off?

Paul Hollywood

No, Bake Off’s on ice; it’s a completely different show. Course it’s Bake Off! Look, if you get a factory supplying and making parts, if you change the staff the machinery still works. With Bake Off, the machinery is actually the bakers, the crew; it’s been the same for eight years now. To be honest it felt like I’ve been working with these guys for years.

Prue Leith

Paul said I’d be fine; I remind him of his mother-in-law. I only found out later that, thankfully, he loves his mother-in-law.

Question 2

How did you feel the first time you walked into the tent?

Prue Leith

I was amazed at how big it was: I’ve never been in a studio the size of a tennis court! And it’s so real. The whole point of Bake Off is to find the best bakers and they are absolutely fixated by their baking; it’s as if they’re
not on a television show. It’s extraordinary; they forget about the camera. They’re so natural.

Question 3

Are there any soggy bottom jokes?

Paul Hollywood

Yes. And then some. But actually it was the highest standard we’ve ever had. And remember you don’t get soggy bottoms on the first week, because the first week is cake and you don’t get soggy cakes.

Question 4

Have you run out of innuendos?

Paul Hollywood

We’ve got different people; different comedy angles. I’ve heard things
I haven’t heard in seven years.
A lot of the humour is to do with
the presenters and the bakers.

Noel Fielding

I don’t know why but you just find yourself punning. I’ve never punned before but I’m quite enjoying it.

Paul Hollywood

The innuendo thing just seemed to escalate from series one; I think it’s because you’re dealing with quite a physical thing. If, for example, I was shaping a baguette, I’d say ‘You grab it in your hands, flatten it, roll it out...’
It sounds like a Carry On film, but I’m not doing it intentionally.

Prue Leith

There have been some jokes I’m sure will never make it to camera – but they do.

Paul Hollywood

I was talking about having a nice crack... You stop yourself and you go ‘Oh no’. It’s not a deliberate thing.

Noel Fielding

I had to hold Sandi up when you
said that.

Question 5

Did you have to rehearse much at the beginning?

Noel Fielding

No not really. I just try to make Prue laugh and if she’s laughing all is good.

Sandi Toksvig

If the jokes come naturally it’s
better; if they’re not rehearsed
it’s so much funnier.

Prue Leith

There are some links that these
two dream up; mad ways to do things which involve props and 
that’s really funny.

Noel Fielding
I don’t think we came into it thinking we want to change anything, but I’m not Mel and Sandi’s not Sue: we can’t emulate what they did, we’ve found our own way.
Question 6

Are you and Sandi keen bakers yourselves?

Sandi Toksvig

Let’s say I am. Noel is not allowed
in the kitchen.

Noel Fielding

I’m not allowed near hot things
or sharp things.

 

Question 7

People say that Bake Off is a national institution; it makes people happy. Do you feel pressure to keep it happy, positive and upbeat?

Sandi Toksvig

You can’t spend your day taking responsibility for the nation’s happiness. I don’t think even
Theresa May does that – actually maybe she should, that would be good for us. No, you have to go
into it loving the bakers and the
show looks after itself.

Prue Leith

Something about the show is so comforting. I think it’s largely to
do with the fact no one sets out
to humiliate a contestant; no one
has been cast to fail.

 

Paul Hollywood

Bake Off feels like a festival. When you go through the gates, all the press, all the outsiders, they don’t matter. You just want to go into the tent and eat stuff. It’s a Bake-Off bubble. It’s very special; you don’t care about what’s happening
outside the tent.

Judges watch over bakers

 

 

Question 8

Was there a particular week that blew you away?

Paul Hollywood

Every single week the standard
of baking was higher than ever before. It was annoyingly good.
We’d be like ‘How did you do that?’ New flavours, new ideas: they’d all really gone to town finding out how to do things properly.

Noel Fielding

They finish judging, the cameras stop, and the four of us are still eating because it’s so delicious.

Prue Leith

It’s so inspiring. I’ve baked more cakes in the last few months than
in the last 25 years; I’d go home wanting to try doing it myself.

Question 9

Have you put on weight?

Sandi Toksvig

Yes! I’m going on holiday to eat salad.

Noel Fielding

I don’t know what I’m going to do – no one likes a tubby goth.

 

Question 10

How did you feel at the end?

Noel Fielding

It’s very emotional. We weren’t prepared for how much we would care. From week one.

Prue Leith

We were all crying when we had to send people home.

 

Sandi Toksvig

You get to know them: their families; their stresses and strains. We can’t bear it if something happens to them. It’s a Bake-Off family.

Noel Fielding

When it came to sending someone home we’d be like ‘It’s me, oh God...’

 

Sandi Toksvig

Noel kept saying ‘The nation is
going to hate me’ and I said ‘Yes,
that’s true’.

Noel Fielding

I look like the Child Catcher; I’ve got nothing to lose. It’s so hard though, you feel like a parent. Whenever
they make tiny mistakes you aren’t allowed to help; you have to let
them get on with it.

Question 11

Any new catchphrases?

Prue Leith

Yes. ‘It’s not worth the calories.’ I’ve been struggling with my weight all
my life. I judge all the time whether something is worth eating; it has got to be worth the calories. The pleasure has got to outweigh the pain.

Bake off judges and hosts
Question 12

Was it a relief to see the show has worked?

Paul Hollywood

We’ve done Comic Relief Bake Off with different presenters every
week. And celebrities. The Bake
Off format works.

Prue Leith

I did turn up once in an apron
that said What Would Mary Do?
Just for fun.

Paul Hollywood

Mary who?

Prue Leith

I did phone up Mary and ask if he [Paul] was workable with and she said yes, he knows his stuff.

Paul Hollywood

On This Morning presenters change every day and it’s still the same show. We’re all different of course: Prue’s very strong on flavours. How many years has she been a Michelin-star chef? I just knew it was going to work within five minutes of her starting.

Prue Leith

I didn’t know Paul at all. I worried... Would I agree with him? What does
a baker do if one says it’s good and one says it’s not? When we rank them, sometimes I’ll be more
about the flavour and he’ll be on about the texture, but when
we add up the scores we are never apart; we always agree.

Paul Hollywood

Even in the final, when the last
plate came round, we tried it
and looked at each other and nodded straight away.

Judges and presenters



Question 13

Can you say anything about the final?

Paul Hollywood

It was so chilled until the last couple
of hours and then the contestants
see their relatives start to arrive
and it becomes really real to them. And this year it was the hardest judging I’ve ever been involved in.

Sandi Toksvig

Announcing the winner is one
of the most choking things anyone’s asked to do. It’s not just saying congratulations; it’s saying I’m
sorry to the other two. It’s really hard.

Question 14

How did you find it keeping the final secret?

Sandi Toksvig

I've already forgotten who won.

Paul Hollywood

It’s easy. Everyone is so supportive
of each other, really good friends,
a band of brothers and sisters.
In eight years it has never leaked.
I know they all sign gagging orders not to tell their friends; half of them haven’t even told their mums because they fear they’re too
much of a blabbermouth.

Question 15

Are you at all nervous about the first programme? Will you be following the reaction on social media?

Noel Fielding

Are you out of your mind? I’m throwing my phone in the ocean.

Question 16

Do you feel you're going to get a bruising?

Noel Fielding

I’ve done my best. I’m only a small part of it and I’ve watched it and think the show’s great.

Paul Hollywood

Remember, the first series of Bake Off we were all slagged off in week one; second week slagged off; third week not so much... and it went from there. The public reaction took over. And you’ve got to remember this isn’t chapter one, it’s a new chapter.

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