INTERVIEW: Prue & Paul tease returning to tent

by | Aug 21, 2018 | All, Interviews

The Great British Bake Off is returning very soon for its second series on Channel 4. In preparation, the judges, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith sat down to discuss working on the show. First up, Paul Hollywood.

It’s your second series filming together and how has that been, more laid back?

If we were more laid back we would be lying flat. There was a big pressure last year on the move to Channel 4  but this year we have all relaxed into our roles and we have had a really good time filming this time round, everyone has found their niche quite easily and naturally.

It’s very rare to get a foursome who gel so well how would you describe why the 4 of you work

I don’t know why it works so well. We are a dysfunctional family and it shouldn’t work but it does. The camaraderie is very tight, it’s very natural and genuine and we enjoy each others’ company. At Christmas last year we even had our own Christmas Bake Off lunch at Sandi’s for a Danish roast which was delicious and some excellent wines. I think it’s my turn this year!

We spend so much time together, and we are all very different personalities. It’s naturally happened, nothing is forced. Noel and I share an arty side, and the comedy element across all 4 is the binding thing, we share the same sense of humour.

How would you describe your relationship with Prue?

I am similar to Prue as we have such a love of food. We hit it off from the first moment we met, I knew there was something there. She is so natural and very easy to work with. She knows her stuff, what is right and what’s wrong. Prue is great and steps up to the mark every time.

Do you both pretty much agree when it comes to judging the Bakers?

We do from the beginning to the end, and we give marks at the end of each bake, and they are always within half a point of each other.

You are referred to as bad cop always getting the pantomime villain role, how do you react to that?

Everyone has always tried to wrap me up as that role inside and outside of Bake Off. I am not a villain, I am straight down the line. When it comes to judging I am always fair.

How did you feel when the show was so well received? 

Justified! Initially, we did a lot of casting with a variety of different people, and they were all fantastic. But I just felt with Prue that she was the one, and the way we were chatting off camera – I just knew it would work. I did help her at the beginning of last series, a bit of initial hand-holding, but I don’t need to do any of that now.

How skilled are the Bakers this year?

The baking standard overall is fantastic, they are a really talented bunch. I can honestly say that the bakers have been exceptional this year. They are highly skilled in flavour combinations and they have worked outside the box and have ignored the fact that I like citrus flavours, which is fine.

What’s your favourite Bake Off moment?

I loved Lee Mack on Celebrity Bake Off earlier this year, the exchange between us talking about his wife’s sponge. He cracked me up, the same with Harry Hill talking about Camilla Parker-Bowles when they were on a desert island. They both made me laugh so much, it was hard to keep it together.

Describe Prue, Sandi, Noel in 3 words

Prue – Charming, Beautiful, Knowledgeable

Sandi – Intelligent, Small, Humourous

Noel – Odd, Funny, Artistic

The show is very popular amongst young people why do you think that is and what are they like when they meet you?

They are very complimentary. A lot of the younger bakers in the tent like Selasi and Liam end up having a fan club. Younger people are baking more, and I think Bake Off really has got people baking and made it popular, and there is a genuine interest. The last series we doubled the youth viewing figures and I think that is predominantly down to Noel!

Now for Prue.

It’s your second series filming together and how has that been, more laid back?

Absolutely. It’s so much more relaxed, we are so settled into our roles now. Paul and I have a really good relationship, I followed his lead at the beginning but now it’s very even-handed. He has been absolutely sweet and so professional to work with.

What do you think you brought to the show?

I am a huge admirer of Mary, she is an expert cake maker. Paul is a brilliant bread maker, but I am more of a cook, so I am much more light-hearted about the judging and I can tease Paul about banging on about crumb. I just feel it’s about the essence, the balance of flavours, what makes your mouth water, and it has got to taste fantastic.

And the chemistry between you and Paul?

Sometimes I think we are like schoolkids, he can say some mad things to get a rise out of me. He is constantly teasing me. I think we have a great natural chemistry and we both respect each other’s baking knowledge.

What was the audition process like the first time?

When I started I had no idea that Paul had been auditioning with other people, which of course because of the kind of show it is, there would have been. When I was asked to meet Paul Hollywood to see how we would get on, I thought we might meet and have an informal chat in a pub. When I got there it was makeup, clothes and cameraman. I did get a bit of a shock, but Paul made me feel really relaxed about it, and I felt less nervous. He told me to go for it and not just follow him. He knew I had more oomph and experience than I was showing, and encouraged me to show more of myself.

How skilled are the Bakers this year?

They are exceptional, and skilled in different ways. I can’t talk about them separately but they all bring something individual and different to the table. Some bring strong and exotic flavours, and others bring intricate flavours with delicate icing.

How has Paul helped you in the tent?

He helped me find my feet and I have learned such a lot from him. He is an absolute genius when he sums up the judging with few words…’s straight to camera, no errms or arrhs , he is so succinct. Whereas I go round the houses with lots of words so I have tried to pick up on his critique and absorb it! I am not as good as him, but I think I am getting there now.

Being around a show that has so much noise around it, was that daunting?

I have had such a great experience on this series, and I haven’t found any of it daunting as everyone has been so professional and welcoming. The crew and production team are so brilliant, I really admire them all. Working with Paul, Sandi and Noel – it’s a pleasure to do. The only downside is that I just don’t want any of the bakers to leave!

Describe Paul, Sandi, Noel in 3 words

Paul – Soft-centred, professional, masculine

Sandi – Humourous, loyal, caring

Noel – Quirky, daft, clever

What’s next in your baking or anything else world?

I’m bringing out my first cookbook in 25 years, Prue: My All-Time Favourite Recipes, and I’m also working on another cookbook with my baker niece Peta to come out next year. I have just finished my eighth novel, to be published in the Spring, The Lost Son, the third book in a trilogy.

The Great British Bake Off starts Tuesday 28th August at 8pm on Channel 4

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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