Can you bake? Rate yourself out of 10.
Out of ten? Probably somewhere close to a zero.
Who taught you how to bake, if anyone?
When I was little, mum spent loads of time with my sister and me, making sponges and pastry and fairy cakes and so on. She says, “I do not know what happened to you, because you definitely had the training.” My sister’s excellent and can make her children’s birthday cakes and what have you. I don’t know what happened to me. I’ve baked two cakes as an adult. One was relatively successful – a Victoria Sponge – and the other one was a banana cake that ended up tasting like fish.
That’s an achievement!
It is! I’ll tell you how I did it. There was too much bicarbonate of soda in it, apparently. You don’t want that – it was horrible!
Do you have a go-to signature dish?
Oh god… Rice Krispy cakes? Corn Flake cakes? It’s a cereal-based repertoire.
Are you a Bake Off fan?
I love Bake Off, and that’s why I wanted to do this. Over the years, I’ve been so impressed by these people producing these fantastic bakes, I think it’s mesmerising to watch. I always watch it at tea time, and it always makes me really hungry, even if I’ve just eaten, which is annoying. But it’s a fantastic show, it’s really good to watch, and for me to be in the tent is a lovely experience. It’s exciting even though I work in telly myself. I’m still excited to be there. I don’t think any of us have the baking prowess of the people on the real version of the show, but being there, giving it a go, hopefully people at home are going to shove a few jam tarts in the oven and raise a bit of money. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Does the fact that you’re a fan of the show make it more nerve-wracking for you?
I think so, yes. I’ve got no expectation, there’s no pressure, but I’m a lot more concerned and bothered than I thought I’d be. I know Paul pretty well, and I’m sure he’s going to rip me to shreds! Prue is amazing, she’s right up there in terms of bakers, and I’m petrified she’ll hate it and think it’s all baked wrong. It’s quite a lot of pressure, and it really gives you an insight into what the real bakers go through.
Who do you want to impress the most? Paul or Prue?
I think I’d want to impress Prue the most, because she glides through the tent like royalty. With Paul, I just want to do well so I can shut him up.
Who do you see as your biggest competition?
Oh gosh. I think the other three are all pretty good.
What’s your strength in your baking?
They say you’ve got to be precise and methodical. I’m none of those things. I’m a bit rough and ready, I’m adaptable. But if it goes wrong, instead of getting in a tizz, I’ll just fix it and create something. It may not be right, but it’ll be something.
Why are you supporting Stand Up to Cancer?
The older I get, the more people I know who are being affected. Where it used to be older relatives, now it’s actually friends, it’s colleagues, it’s friends exactly the same age. And it’s really scary. I think anything that any of us can do to raise awareness and to boost the pot for the research can only be a good thing, because actually, when you think about it, statistically, it’s going to come to each and every family in a certain guise. It’s not something that happens to ‘other people’.
Did you practice your bakes?
I practiced one. I practiced the tray bake, so I knew how it should look and how to assemble it.
Did you get any advice when you were preparing for this show?
My husband is an ex-chef, so he said, “Don’t do it!” That was his advice. He knows me really well. He said “Al, you’ve only got a couple of weeks to prepare, I don’t know where to start. There’s so much I need you to know going into this.” I said “Look, don’t worry about it, it’ll be fine, how difficult can it be? Obviously, I’m not going to make anything hugely elaborate, but I can go in and bake a sponge and it’ll be lovely.” And he said “Ahh, remember the banana cake.”
If you were a baked good, what would you be?
That’s very difficult. I think I’d be a croissant. No, actually, I think I’d be an éclair.
Your Welsh heritage is very important to you. Is that going to be reflected in any of your bakes?
No. In fact, I’ve gone quite Californian. But my showstopper, if anyone can even decipher what it’s meant to be, that will be a start. You’ll see it, and you’ll think” What the bloody hell is that?”