The Great British Bake Off: The third baker leaves the tent
In Tuesday’s night’s episode of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4, Julia was named Star Baker for the first time, and Flo, 71 was the third baker to leave the tent.
‘My daughter Nicola applied for me, but the reality only hit in when I walked into the tent. I was totally overwhelmed and I wasn’t a bit nervous about meeting Paul, or even Prue. I felt that Paul is the same age as my son, so I just tried to keep that in my head, I just kept telling myself take it down, keep calm.
‘Paul and I had a great rapport, I loved him. You can throw anything at me, but beware as a scouser I can come back with something worse, and Paul knew that. Prue said to me at one stage - is he picking on you again - and I said don’t worry I’ve got two at home like him! I loved Sandi and Noel they kept us buoyed up, and Sandi was always making me cups of tea.
‘The best moment for me has to be when Paul cut into my watermelon cake. I wanted to see inside it as much as the Judges did, to see if it had baked through properly, and thank goodness it had. I did practice it twice at home so I must admit I wasn’t fazed by making it in the tent. I am comfortable making cakes and gateaux I could make them all day long, but throw me a challenge of a biscuit and a bread sculpture and I start going to pieces!
‘My worst moment - well I really had a few! Making the sugar paste was a disaster, the bread sculpture was another one, I could barely watch those on tv, and I will never attempt to make another one. The fortune cookies didn’t bring me any good luck either!
‘At the end of the day I am a housewife that makes cakes, pastries and biscuits, that’s my comfort zone, and it’s my comfort for feeding my family.
‘Since my husband Richard died after a very happy 48 year marriage, Nicola my daughter was trying to get me to join all sorts of clubs, reading and craft clubs, and I just didn’t want to do it. So they came up with the idea of me going on Bake Off and Nicola applied. I have a wonderful family and they have been there literally every day for me.
‘When we watched the first episode all together I made a banana and salted caramel gateaux and I made a Bakewell. The Liverpool Echo called me ‘Scouse Nan’ when I first appeared on the show, but I don’t feel old inside - I still wear my high heels and I feel in my head I have a young attitude to life. I have a lot of young ones in the family and still have a laugh with them.
‘Liverpool is a great place and I love the people, their sense of humour. You can go into any pub in town and there will always be someone funny, or someone genuine and willing to help anyone.
I have totally embraced people recognising me, it’s part of my personality, I enjoy talking to people, making new friends and having a laugh. Bake Off has introduced me to a whole new raft of people!
‘Kate and I are both from Liverpool so we had an immediate connection, and I bonded so well with the young ones Liam and Julia, I think they treated me like their nan! All of us Bakers got on so well and we have all kept in touch.
‘I am a very sociable person, so trying to keep it a secret was a nightmare I like to have a good old chinwag with mates, so for some of them I had to pretend I was going out to lunch while I was really filming. It was so hard to keep quiet, and then so good to share the news with all my mates.
‘I feel since Bake Off I have blossomed, and it has given me the strength to carry on, Bake Off has made me a stronger person. When Richard died I felt that half of me had gone, I had lost my soul mate, but now I feel I have my confidence back.
‘Richard would have said don’t be doing it love, he probably wouldn’t have wanted me to go through the stress of it. But I know on seeing it he would have been as proud as punch, and said well done.
‘My son got a message on his phone from the nurses on Ward 24, Aintree Hospital [who looked after Richard] and all the nurses said ‘Go Flo, Go Flo!’. That made me night and I was really choked, that meant more than anything as I don’t really follow Twitter or social media. To get a message from those busy nurses was really heartwarming.
‘I have had a long journey to get where I am, and to other wives who lose their beloved husband I would like to say it does get better in time, I didn’t think I would make it but I did. After the rain there is sunshine.’
Flo was raised alongside her eleven siblings in the industrial town of Huyton, Liverpool. After meeting her late husband Richard at the age of 21 whilst working at the sausage factory, Flo started to bake delicious treats for their three young children. When her husband died two years ago, her son Stephen encouraged Flo to start baking again to help her deal with the grief and she likes to help her son out by baking for his restaurant. Today, when she’s not singing karaoke or having a boogie with her friends, Flo prides herself on being a homely, traditional baker and loves nothing more than baking for her family to keep them happy, healthy and together. Flo is retired and at 71, she is the show’s eldest amateur baker to take part in the series to date.
Flo will join Jo Brand on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Thursday 14 September, Channel 4 at 10.00 pm.