You’re a presenter of Bake Off: The Professionals – you’ve seen even the pros fold under the pressure of competitive baking. What were you thinking, saying yes to this?
I know! I just thought it was high time I put into practise all the things I’ve been learning on ‘Professionals’. And I thought “What better way to do it than on Celeb Bake Off?” So, I was thrilled to come down here and put my natural expertise into play and show them how it’s done. Whether that’s actually going to be what happens or not I don’t know.
Of all the people taking part in the series, is it fair to say that you have the most to lose, in terms of credibility?
Absolutely, yes. I’m under huge pressure, it’s a nightmare. But it’s for charity, you’ve got to do it! I imagine anyone I’ve ever been critical of on Extra Slice will very much enjoy any criticism I get from Prue and Paul. So, we’ll see, won’t we?
Can you bake?
Of course! I got an A* in food technology GCSE. Also, I used to enjoy making a frangipane to impress people as a teenager.
Wow, you really had it all going on as a teenager, didn’t you?
Yeah. And yet I still had to come out!
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I would say my strengths are presentation and I’m quite good with the elements. My weaknesses are things like dealing with equipment. I find that very stressful. This morning I managed to get a bake welded to the base of the fridge-freezer as I was leaving it to set. I had to have a wrestling competition with the actual fridge.
Do you have a signature dish?
I don’t really. I’m not sure I know anyone who does. Even as pretentious as I am, I don’t have a signature dish. I think anyone who says they have a signature dish is quite unbearable. And I say that as someone who is often seen as quite unbearable.
Have you ever had any culinary disasters?
I once made biscuits, and they went wrong, and I don’t know why, but they tasted absolutely disgusting. They were burnt. But I didn’t burn the biscuits – it was something to do with the nuts in them. It was vile. One of the worst experiences of my life. I still think about them now.
What’s the worst thing you could be asked to make in the competition?
Anything involving stilton. Also, anything that’s too messy. Because obviously I’ll still be wearing a three-piece suit, and I’d hate to make a mess.
Have you done anything in the way of practise or preparation for the competition?
Honestly, no. I just decided I’d ride it out on my wits and do my best in the moment.
Have you asked Liam for any tips?
I haven’t, but I know what he’d say. Liam always says about baking “You’ve got to do it with love.” So that’s what I’m doing. Although I’ve added to that a little bit of competitive edge, and meanness. But lots of Liam-style love. I’m combining Tom Allen-mean and Liam-love. That’s the combination. Liam’s always so enthusiastic and positive about things. I should have asked him for advice – why didn’t I?
Did you do any baking during lockdown?
I did make one banana loaf – not a euphemism – but I didn’t do that much baking because I was trying to watch my weight. I realised it was so easy during lockdown to just eat all day. We are all feeling slightly stationary. I thought I wouldn’t feel any better if I just stuffed my face all day. And we’d just finished Bake Off: The Professionals when we went into lockdown, so I was quite ready for a bit of a break from sweet things. I did a bit more savoury cooking.
Why is SU2C important to you?
I think it represents a really brilliant community effort, on behalf of everybody involved with Channel 4, and also the viewers at home, to get behind a campaign which is so positive, and does so much good work, in terms of those people who have cancer, and also their loved ones around them. It’s a brilliant way to bring everybody together.
Does it feel odd, being a contestant? Are you constantly having to stop yourself from going up and presenting?
Yes, actually I have found that. It’s quite difficult to stop talking people through what I’ve been doing with as tin of condensed milk. And they keep saying “Stop looking down the camera.” It is a bit tricky to do that, and I do find myself interviewing people, but I’m snapping out of that quickly. Because it turns out baking is really hard. No-one told me this. It’s really difficult. And tiring.
You went to school with Rob. What do you remember about him?
Well, I don’t remember him doing any baking! So, I think this is all going to be very interesting. He’s actually quite competitive, Rob, so I think he might be taking it more seriously than we would anticipate. He’s got that sort of boyish football energy, which is quite competitive, so I think that might come out.
Who’s going to come out on top?
Me. Of course!