So, Russell: can you bake?
No. not really. Well I did just bake something, contrary to my beliefs about myself, it’s possible for me to do baking. It was brownies and it went quite well, and I’m actually rather pleased with it.
Who taught you?
My wife Laura. My mum was always baking cakes - if only I had paid attention I could have had that knowledge. My mum also had cancer a lot when I was a kid. I paid attention to the cancer, just not to the baking, otherwise I’d have been a lot better at it. The information was available, I just didn’t take advantage of it. I learnt it seconds ago, glancing over John Lithgow’s shoulder. I love him, I want to go and live with him, he’s so nice.
Are you a Bake Off fan?
Yes - I love Noel, Sandi is a lovely person as well, but Noel is my actual friend.
Who do you want to impress the most in the tent?
I think it might be Paul because I do like that twinkle-eyed Scouser.
Who do you reckon is the biggest competition in the tent?
Lithgow. People are weak at the knees for him. They love him, they couldn’t get enough of that daft brownie with a flag on it.
After that challenge, what’s your strength is in baking?
Rigid adherence to the recipe, I was picking out particular grains of flour. Meticulousness.
Are you more likely to get a Hollywood handshake, or a soggy bottom?
I’ve had both before I got here, but one must always aim for the Hollywood handshake.
Why are you supporting Stand Up To Cancer?
It affects everybody. One of my mates has just had a massive brain tumour, keeps having to have it operated on. My mum has had cancer six times since I’ve been alive. My mates’ mum just died. It’s everywhere. You want to help people as it’s so prevalent and present.
Have you practised your bakes for today?
Oh yeah, I had a little go at brownies, and thank God I did. They turned out a disaster, the brownie was like tar, like something you’d use to lay a drive with.
Are you a competitive person? Do you want to be the star baker?
I am competitive, but I have the worst combination of competitiveness and ineptitude. If you’re competitive you’ve got to be good, and sadly I’m not. I’ve set a little goal for myself, not to be banned from Bake Off before it ends.
How do you feel about the technical challenge? Are you good under pressure?
No, not really, I go to pieces. Unless it’s very real pressure, but minor pressure such as this I could go to pieces, it could be an absolute disaster, I’m just really going to try and concentrate.
I know you said you don’t really cook, are you a traditionalist or do you like experimenting with food, even just when tasting it?
I’m quite traditionalist and rigid, I could probably live in a very simple prison if it was comfortable enough, like this is what you have to eat on a Monday. Like in the olden days when you have fish on a Friday. Slightly guilty that I didn’t do a Vegan cake, but thankfully John did one – by all accounts it was an un-mitigated disaster.
If you were a baked good what would you be?
A fairycake. A cupcake, an English one.
And finally, why should we get involved?
It’s a joyful way to do something meaningful and we should never overlook those moments in such bleak and peculiar times. Do something simple, joyful, fun and nourishing!