Bake Off star Paul Hollywood tells Katherine MacAlister why he's ditched the oven gloves to bare his soul in a new live show
Paul Hollywood doing a live one-man show? Where’s Mary Berry? Where are the TV cameras? Where’s the baking? What’s going on? Get Your Bake On! is the answer, where Paul tours the country, alone, and he’s loving every minute.
Which does beg the question, when you are one of the most popular TV presenters on the planet, why rock the boat? “I really wanted to do something different,“ old blue eyes himself says. “People have an image of me from The Great British Bake Off as the stern judge who gives out criticism, and another image from shows like Pies or Puds which shows the real me – basically a bit of a joker! So by going on a one man tour, the public will get to see the cheekier side of my persona and learn a bit about my life.”
So what will we discover? “Basically the premise of the tour is the story of my life in baking; how my dad persuaded me to ditch my dreams of being a trained sculptor and join the family business, tales from my time as a head baker at some of the world’s most exclusive hotels, and of course anecdotes from my time filming The Great British Bake Off. I’ll also be answering all the baking questions people ask me on Twitter or on the street and we’ll be inviting people up from the audience for a little masterclass to test out their own skills”.
Still a big difference from being cosseted by the TV cameras to being live on stage? “Yes, the idea of a live show is a bit daunting, especially as I’ll be going to venues like the Hammersmith Apollo which to me feels like being a rock and roll star! But I have done a lot of demonstrations over the years, sometimes to an audience of thousands, at shows like BBC Good Food, so I have some confidence when it comes to talking to a large audience.”
Paul is obviously relishing the unexpected twist his career is taking, but won’t he miss his Great British Bake Off buddies?
“Of course! Mary, Mel, Sue and I are always laughing and messing about on set, I’m not sure what sets it off half the time, it can sometimes be something as small as the way Mel or Sue look at me! And I have been known to succumb to an attack of the giggles during demonstrations – there was one demonstration I did when I just lost it on stage and ended up with a huge attack of the giggles which just wouldn’t stop!”
So come on, the question we’ve all been waiting for, what’s Mary actually like? “What you see with Mary is what you get, she really is such a lovely woman, an absolute breath of fresh air and we’ve become really good friends. When we are working all the time I have to admit I can get a bit tired but Mary is like a Duracell bunny, she just keeps going and never stops! Whenever I pass her house I’ll always pop in for a cup of tea and she’ll always have a slice of cake available!”
And with the Great British Bake Off craze showing no sign of abating presumably we can expect the next series soon? “Yes, I’ll actually start filming for the new series during the tour so it’s going to be a full-on couple of months. The show has been given a new home on BBC One this year which will be a great new platform for it. But although we are moving channels, the show will stay the same – after all if it’s not broken why change it?”
So does Paul still pinch himself about the impact of The Great British Bake Off? “I just can’t believe how successful it’s been, I thought it would last two series but each year it gets bigger and bigger. More people watched last year’s final than X Factor which is amazing.”
But then Paul never stands still, so presumably there’s more in the pipeline, despite his excruciating schedule? “I’m working on a new book and a new series to follow Pies and Puds, but in the meantime it’s all about the live show which should be really good fun. So while it’s hard fitting it all in, as there is always something going on, I like it that way.”