Entertainment

Prue Leith: Bake Off fans have eased off comparing me to Mary Berry

The new series kicks off with biscuit week.

The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith has said now she gets fewer comments comparing her to Mary Berry than she used to.

Leith replaced Berry on as a judge in the popular baking show in 2017 when it moved from the BBC to Channel 4, and she is returning for her second stint in the tent for the new series along with Paul Hollywood.

The chef and cookery writer joked that she has enjoyed being approached by Bake Off fans over the past year, because she is an “egotist” who likes the attention.

The Great British Bake Off 2018
The Great British Bake Off’s Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood (Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions)

She told the Press Association: “It’s always quite funny… now people just say, ‘I love the show, I love Bake Off, I think you’re wonderful’ or a straightforward compliment, and that just makes me feel wonderful.

“But I used to get far more of, ‘I really love Mary Berry! I’ve always loved Mary Berry and I just didn’t want to like you’.

“And you wait for it, and you wait… and then they say that you’re all right and that it’s survived the change.”

Bread expert Hollywood, who was criticised by some fans for sticking with the show when it was sold to Channel 4 while Berry and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins quit, said that fans now give him a “knowing nod”.

He added: “They say, ‘nice one Paul’.”

Leith and Hollywood return for their second outing on Channel 4 along with presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig in the new series.

The pair have insisted the show is still the same as it was before, because it remains focused on one thing: the bakers.

Hollywood said: “Nothing has really changed, because actually, when you take the framework out, what you’re left with is the bakers.

“The feeling this year was exactly the same, it’s got such a warm feeling.”

Among the 12 new amateur bakers hoping to be crowned the winner are a blood courier, a civil servant and house and techno DJ and a retired air steward.

There will also be a banker, a mental health specialist and a research scientist battling it out across three Bake Off challenges in each episode.

Leith said she is “amazed” at the mix of people chosen for this year’s series.

“It almost looks as if the company chooses the bakers for their personality, because they’re always different, they’re always interesting,” she said.

“But they don’t. They choose them for the best bakers they can find. And I suppose if you have thousands and thousands of people apply, you’re going to get good bakers and a wonderful mix of personalities.

“And they really are. And this year they’re very different. And yet, if you look at those 12, I think they’ll be friends for life, they are so well-bonded and the whole experience is cemented.”

The new series will open with a playful reference to Leith’s mistake of revealing last year’s winner hours before the final aired.

Leith was in Bhutan when she tweeted her congratulations to winner Sophie Faldo, unaware of the time difference.

After that, the bakers will face biscuit week, during which they will be tasked with creating Wagon Wheels during the technical challenge.

The Great British Bake Off begins at 8pm on Tuesday on Channel 4.

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