SU2C GBBO - Alex

Alex Horne Interview

Category: Interview

Can you bake?

I cannot bake. I have never baked. My children can bake better than me. But I saw this as an opportunity to learn a new craft, and possibly fashion a new career. I’m only doing it so I can release a cookbook. That is not true. I can’t bake.


What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m very good at pouring out the right amount of sugar into a bowl first time. So if it says 200g, I’m really good at pouring it until it stops at 200g exactly and it doesn’t go one gram over or under. Those are all my strengths. My weaknesses are mess, time-keeping, sharp knives, and identifying the difference between flour, salt and sugar.


When you’re cooking, do you have a go-to dish?

“When you’re cooking” is a big assumption. My dad used to cook me an omelette every Monday because my mum sung in a choir. So I can do an omelette. Actually I can’t, I can do scrambled eggs. So that’s my go to. I tried to cook a pizza recently, and I put it under the grill, and I was told afterwards that it should have been the oven. It just went black. So no, I can’t cook. You’re talking to an idiot.


My next question was “Have you ever had any culinary disasters?” but that seems to fulfil the criteria.

Yeah. I’ve never done a good bit of cooking. I was once a runner on a TV programme, and I had to bake some playdough. I had to cook a playdough version of Tony Hadley’s arse – it’s a long story. But I left it in too long – it was in a hotel – and the fire brigade had to come. They eventually found the charred remains of Tony Hadley’s arse, and it was all my fault.


Will you be attempting to recreate Tony Hadley’s arse in cake form on the show?

I won’t be, unless it’s in the surprise round. Maybe we’ll all have to cook Tony Hadley’s arse. But no, I didn’t choose that as one of my options. I sort of regret that now.


Are you a fan of Bake Off?

Yes. Yes, I genuinely am. On Taskmaster, our director, Andy, was the original director of Bake Off, and he used to do both shows at the same time. So I know a lot of the camera crew, and it’s really nice to feel comfortable in the tent. And it’s just as warm and supportive as it looks on the telly. I know Noel and Matt a little bit. I was a fan. And I still am a fan.


What’s the worst thing you could be asked to make in the competition?

Probably a cake. I can do a pancake, but that’s the only cake I can make. If it’s anything other than a pancake, I’m in trouble. If it’s got any height to it, I’m worried. If they use words like ‘sponge’ then I’m in trouble.


You say you can’t cook, but I’ve seen you make a dish called ‘eggy pop’ in the past.

Yes, I can make eggy pop. An egg dish in a minute, using a mug, some butter and an egg, and a microwave. If that’s the challenge, and it’s a minute, and we’re done, then I’ll be a happy man. But it seems unlikely. It doesn’t really lend itself to the Bake Off format.


I gather that Tim Key once cooked a very interesting meal for you.

Yeah. We sometimes have food challenges on Taskmaster, and in the very first series, they had to cook a meal with ingredients beginning with every letter of the alphabet. Tim knew I would be the one tasting it, so he included ingredients like ‘D is for dogfood’ Q was for quinoa, and everything in between. It was essentially homemade pasta stuffed with dogfood. It wasn’t the nicest meal I’ve ever eaten.


Have you done anything in the way of practise or preparation for the competition?

No, they encourage you to practise, but they don’t factor in three children, a dog, and a trip to Ireland with the in-laws in the only window where I could cook. I didn’t complete any of the challenges in practise. Also, they sent me the ingredients, which I’m very grateful for, but they also sent me a bottle of gin. That didn’t help. I don’t know quite what they were hoping for, but I did enjoy myself. But we didn’t have an edible product at the end of it.


Is any of the gin left?

No, the gin was consumed. My showstopper dish tomorrow involves wine, and I don’t think there’s going to be any of that left either.


A lot of people have spent the rather restricted last couple of years baking and cooking. Do I take it you haven’t followed suit?

No. Where I live, we’ve really got to know the delivery drivers. We’ve got quite a good rotation of takeaways in the town, so I’ve sport of focussed on that aspect of life. I think it’s important to keep these industries going in these troubling times. So I’ve been doing my bit to help the town and eaten as many curries/Chinese/burgers/pizzas as possible.


Are you competitive? How badly do you want to win?

I am competitive if it’s a pub quiz. I’m not competitive if I’m in a cooking competition, because I can’t win. It’s quite a nice position to be in – I am just here to do my best, but I’m not here to win. So it’s quite nice not to have that horrible side of my personality exposed.


How have you found interacting with the judges so far? Is that quite intimidating?

Weirdly, it is. You just sort of think “Ah, they’re just playing their roles,” but it looks like they take it very seriously. They have to eat so many biscuits and have opinions on them, I don’t think I could do their job. But yeah, they do look you in the eye, and they do speak from their brains and their hearts. And I don’t think they suffer fools. So it is more intimidating than I thought it would be.


Why is SU2C important to you?

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve not had too many direct brushes with cancer, but obviously I do know people who have had it, and haven’t come out from it, like everyone. Every single person is going to be affected by cancer in some way unless we do something about it, so it just seems like  a very good charity to get behind. It’s a bit of a no-brainer.


If you could have one former Taskmaster contestant helping you out in the Bake Off tent, who would you choose?

I’ll pick James Acaster, because he’s been here in the tent, and he had a problem, and I think he would be able to help me through whatever trouble I’m about to land myself in. So I’ll have James, because he’s also one of the funniest people I know. So I can get on with the baking, and he can do wry looks at camera and off-colour remarks.