Saturday 21 April 2018

Prue Leith: Mary Berry advised me not to stand behind Paul in GBBO

The experienced TV cook welcomed some words of wisdom from her Bake Off predecessor.

Prue Leith.
Prue Leith.

By Francesca Gosling

The Great British Bake Off’s Prue Leith has told how her predecessor Mary Berry encouraged her to stand her ground against Paul Hollywood when she signed up to take on the role of new judge.

The renowned TV cook, 77, will make her debut on the show when it returns on Channel 4 next week, joining co-host Hollywood as the pair put 12 new contestants through their baking paces.

She takes over from former judge and her good friend Berry, who offered some valuable words of advice as she handed over the baton.

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Mary Berry cake launch

Speaking at the show’s press launch at the channel’s London headquarters this week, she said: “(Berry) told me, ‘Don’t just follow Paul, don’t stand behind Paul and agree with him, just be yourself and go for it,’ and Paul told me the same thing.”

Admitting that the nerves crept in during her first round of filming for the show, she recalled: “My agent had said they just wanted me to meet Paul to see how the chemistry works, but when I got there the place was made up like a full-scale set with three cameramen and wardrobe and so on, so by the time we got to it I was very nervous and didn’t know what to do.”

But with half a century of cooking experience and 30 years of television work under her belt, she now describes the show as her most enjoyable job to date.

“I have done a lot of telly in my life and I have never ever enjoyed myself as much as this show; it’s fun to go to work,” she said.

She also said it would be the first of her shows that she is looking forward to watching herself after seeing episode one broadcast at the London event alongside Hollywood and presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.

“I cannot bear to watch myself on television because I am so vain that I keep thinking why is the camera moving that way and taking all my fat places and I don’t listen to what’s going on,” she confessed.

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The Great British Bake Off

“But for the first time, I watched and it was fantastic. We all went quiet, we were completely hooked, so I think I’m actually going to watch Bake Off.”

She continued: “It really is a show that wants to give the bakers the best possible chance for them to shine.

“It is not like many other reality shows that are half about humiliating somebody and making sure there are some people in there that are never going to do any good…I wouldn’t have done it if it was like that.

“I think cooking is very important and showcasing what ordinary people can do is a great thing to programme.”

Press Association

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