Can you bake? Rate yourself out of 10.
Absolute zero. Zero in the clearest way. And more than that, as a cook I’d rate zero, too. I’m really good at making myself a sandwich, and I’m even better at ordering in.
My next question was “Who taught you how to bake?” but that seems a little redundant.
Totally! I’ve been given instructions to bake my first cake. They are in the most simplistic of terms, and if I were a four-year-old I’d be able to follow them.
Are you a Bake Off fan?
I’ve never watched it, but my wife is a big fan, which is why I’m here. I have no real choice. The opportunity arose, and she compelled me.
Do you think she did that because she wanted the opportunity to laugh at you?
No, not at all. She is the one who wrote down my instructions. She sees it as an opportunity to write down instructions for me to follow. She’s definitely excited by her contribution to the show, so the pressure is really on for me to get it right.
Is it something you’ve been nervous about doing?
No. If you really can’t do something at all, then it takes any nerves away. I know that the instructions were fairly clear and simple for the first bake. For the technical stage I have no idea. Unless it’s taking the oven apart with a screwdriver, I’m doomed. Unless the technical also features really, really clear and simple instructions, but I guess that’s not really the point if the challenge. I think I’m like someone on Death Row – I feel a certain release.
Who do you want to impress the most? Paul or Prue?
I think Prue is someone whose name I know. I definitely remember, as a child, my mother having Prue Leith books, and I think my sister went to a Prue Leith school at some stage. So she seems to be the cook around here. What does Paul do?
He’s more of a strictly baking background. That’s his expertise. Along with looking mean and moody.
Gotcha. So Paul’s an actor.
Who do you see as your biggest competition?
In this? The other three. In equal measure. Talking to the others, I’d say that Alison has the most experience, and Joe is the dark horse.
Have you had any baking disasters?
Obviously not! No disasters. That’s a great way if looking at it! I have a 100 per cent perfect, faultless record, having never made anything before!
Why are you supporting Stand Up to Cancer?
Because it’s a fantastic cause. Almost every person has been touched by cancer in their own way, and it’s fantastic to be able to get involved. Also, if I can make a cake in the name of Stand Up to Cancer, then literally anyone can.
Have you practiced any of your bakes?
No, but my wife has. That seemed fairly useless. She showed me the cake and said, “That’s what you’re supposed to do.” While she was making it, she kept sending me away to do non-baking tasks, and then I’d come back and she’d go “Ta-da! Isn’t it amazing?” And she’d tale pictures and send them to her friends to thoroughly impress them. As if that was in any way useful to me! It would be a bit like me turning up with a car and saying to her: “Hey look, there you are, just make one of these.”
Did she give you any advice before the show?
Just “Follow the instructions.”
Are you competitive? Do you want to be star baker?
I think I’m realistic. That’s not going to happen. Let’s leave it at that.
How do you feel about the technical challenge?
Very excited! Can’t wait! (Laughs). What a thrill!
What would be the worst possible thing you could be asked to make in the technical?
I suppose anything to do with cooking or baking. I’d struggle with that. But if it’s anything else. Home DIY, constructing anything. If it’s a bookshelf, or something even more complicated than that, I’m fine. I did engineering at University, so if there’s any chance to bring out the toolbox, I’m totally on it. But anything involving baking, or artistic, I won’t be so good at that.
I think you might be in a spot of bother.
Yeah. But the word is ‘technical’ so I’m hopeful.
If you were a baked good, what would you be?
A croissant. Is that baked?
Yes, you’re allowed that.
Good. I had to check.
A lot of baking is about discipline, precision, and coping with pressure. Do you think your military background will give you an advantage?
I’m really good at cleaning up. I intend to leave my workstation very clean, I’m going fir cleanliness points. I think the army taught me how to clean stuff. A tidy kitchen is a happy kitchen. That would be my baking motto.