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Paul Hollywood reveals he'd never have taken the job if he'd known the impact it would have


The piercing blue eyes, the famously agency handshakes, the massive floury hugs of condolence – they’ve all helped flip Paul Hollywood into a real tv showstopper as a choose on The Nice British Bake Off. So it’s a little bit of a bombshell, then, to listen to him say he regrets ever signing up within the first place. 

A passionate artisan baker by commerce, he enjoys being a part of TV’s largest problem present and is massively grateful for the monetary rewards it’s introduced him. However the harm it’s completed to his private life has been colossal. 

His fellow choose Prue Leith describes him as like a jam doughnut – delicate and squishy within the center – as a result of beneath the cultivated air of menace and the gimlet-eyed stares he provides the contestants, Paul is clearly extra delicate than you may think. 

Paul Hollywood, 56, (pictured) reveals the harm that The Nice British Bake Off has completed to his non-public life

In 2013 your entire nation watched as he launched into a mid-life disaster. Paul, then aged 47, had an affair with Marcela Valladolid, his youthful co-judge on the American model of Bake Off, resulting in a break up together with his spouse Alex, then a brief reconciliation earlier than they ultimately divorced after practically 20 years of marriage. 

His private life has been beneath intense scrutiny ever since, and his relationship with Summer season Monteys-Fullam, the barmaid he began seeing after splitting up with Alex, was splashed all around the papers whereas it lasted. 

She dumped him after two years in 2019 when he allegedly requested her to signal a non-disclosure settlement forbidding her from speaking about their relationship. She later revealed the proficient baker most popular to eat ‘low cost sliced bread’ at residence. 

Then earlier this 12 months Alex – now a star chef herself – described her marriage as having been ‘too over-seasoned with extra-marital affairs’ in an Instagram submit. 

Paul's fellow judge Prue Leith describes him as like a jam doughnut – soft and squishy in the middle – because beneath the cultivated air of menace and the gimlet-eyed stares he gives the contestants, Paul is clearly more sensitive than you might imagine

Paul’s fellow choose Prue Leith describes him as like a jam doughnut – delicate and squishy within the center – as a result of beneath the cultivated air of menace and the gimlet-eyed stares he provides the contestants, Paul is clearly extra delicate than you may think

At the moment Paul, 56, appears quietly settled in a relationship with Melissa Spalding, landlady of the Chequers Inn in Smarden, Kent, the place he’s been identified to moonlight because the pizza chef. 

‘Would I’ve completed Bake Off if I’d identified all these things was going to occur, the lack of my non-public life?’ he says. 

‘No, I wouldn’t have completed it. The monetary advantages are nice. It’s a job, and to earn cash you must work arduous, however finally what issues is your non-public life and your anonymity. 

‘Something to do with household, you must watch out. Making an attempt to take care of household relationships is basically tough after they’re within the public area.

‘It’s arduous sufficient exterior the general public area, however to do it within the public area is not possible.’ 

When he break up up with Alex he moved out of their residence in Wingham in Kent, whereas she and their then 11- year-old son Josh stayed. He later described the affair as ‘the most important mistake of my life’ and stated he’d by no means forgive himself for the stress he’d put his spouse and son via. 

 I’ve just a few buddies I can speak in confidence to, however I discover it tough to belief folks. Who the hell are you able to belief?

‘I’m not a politician, I’m a choose on a baking present,’ he says now. ‘The Bake Off job is fairly simple, it’s my ardour, so to have the ability to evangelise via the programme is nice. 

‘However the different stuff that goes with it’s brutal and reduce me to my core. I’ve had just a few buddies from childhood I’ve confided in however it’s tough. 

‘I don’t need to fear my mum. I discover it tough to belief folks. Who the hell are you able to belief?’ 

Prue Leith, to whom he’s grown shut since they began working collectively after she changed Mary Berry when Bake Off moved to Channel 4 in 2017, is one for starters. 

‘She’s good. She says, “Observe your coronary heart.” In the end, you’ve acquired to be truthful to your self. Generally it’s arduous, typically it’s simple. 

‘You must take heed to the little voice behind your head. I’m thick-skinned now, you’ll by no means see me rise to something as a result of it’s pointless. It’s selfpreservation,’ he admits. 

Paul pictured with his ex-wife Alex. The pair split after Paul had an affair with Marcela Valladolid, his younger co-judge on the American version of Bake Off

Paul pictured together with his ex-wife Alex. The pair break up after Paul had an affair with Marcela Valladolid, his youthful co-judge on the American model of Bake Off

‘I reside fairly a quiet life within the nation. I don’t exit so much and I are likely to maintain myself to myself. 

‘I’m going for a stroll or for a trip on my motorcycle carrying a black visor so no person is aware of who I’m. Fame brings you these toys, which is nice, however there’s a draw back. 

‘You by no means fill the hole – the hole is inside you. You must discover a solution.’ Has he discovered it? 

‘No, however I’m getting there. You must alter your life-style. The stress I’ve felt has been off the size. 

Paul pictured here with chef Marcela Valladolid as judges for The American Baking Competition. His life came under intense scrutiny after the pair had an affair

Paul pictured right here with chef Marcela Valladolid as judges for The American Baking Competitors. His life got here beneath intense scrutiny after the pair had an affair

‘There’s no vent. So I’d take heed to music, Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or one thing chilled out, and I typically go and sit by myself. I’m not afraid of my very own firm, and I even have two Maine Coon cats who’re nice firm.’ 

PRUE WAS LIKE A RAINBOW 

It nonetheless rankles with Paul that he was accused of betraying Bake Off when it moved from the BBC to Channel 4 in 2017, though it was Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins who jumped ship, whereas he stayed. He was unprepared for the vitriol levelled towards him, saying on the time, ‘Mary won’t ever be a villain. I’ll at all times be a villain.’  

At the moment he provides, ‘It was like shedding a part of the household, as me, Mel, Sue and Mary have been all tight. However I didn’t have the identical connection to the BBC as they did, possibly as a result of I used to be northern they usually didn’t know the place to position me. 

‘Even so, I used to be nervous, however Channel 4 have been adamant about getting the precise staff, they usually did – I bear in mind Prue when she walked in, she was like a rainbow.’ 

Paul describes Prue Leith (right) as a rainbow

Paul describes Prue Leith (proper) as a rainbow

One key to discovering himself once more has been writing a brand new ebook known as Bake, a set of his greatest recipes from desserts and biscuits to breads and pastries, which is printed subsequent month (yow will discover a few of these recipes, together with Paul’s favorite focaccia and jam doughnuts, on pages 75-78). Writing the ebook proved to be each the remedy and distraction he wanted. 

‘Throughout the first lockdown on Bake Off, we have been actually in a resort for seven weeks,’ he remembers. ‘It grew to become my quiet place, so after we completed filming I’d typically return to my room and begin writing just a few notes as I used to be nonetheless in Bake Off mode. 

‘Each time I style or bake one thing I be taught one thing new, and I’m impressed to enhance and develop my recipes additional. 

‘Prue, who was additionally writing a ebook in her room on the identical time, I’ve been accused of not caring on Bake Off, however when folks break down I’ll give them a hug I’ve just a few buddies I can speak in confidence to, however I discover it tough to belief folks. 

‘Who the hell are you able to belief? would say, “Are we having dinner?” And I’d say, “Give me an hour, I’m simply ending this chapter.” All my favorite issues are on this ebook, it covers most bakes from a lemon drizzle to a Danish pastry to a flatbread.’ 

Paul is a third-generation baker, rising up in a flat above his father’s bakery on Merseyside that at all times smelled of bread. His dad John based a sequence of bakeries known as Bread Winner which ultimately stretched from Aberdeen to Lincolnshire, and Paul has been baking ever since John provided him £500 to hitch the enterprise within the Eighties.

It was too good a proposal to show down throughout a interval of excessive unemployment, so Paul shaved off his lengthy hair, rolled up his sleeves and acquired caught right into a career that will develop into a lifelong ardour. 

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than he was experimenting with artisan breads, incorporating cheese and even chocolate. A couple of years later, one creation – the ‘Rolls-Royce of loaves’ made utilizing grade-A flour from a specialist miller – offered in Harrods for a staggering £15. 

‘I’ve at all times made my very own bread,’ he says. ‘I make not less than three loaves every week, usually two are sandwich breads as I start daily with two eggs and troopers. I additionally make a focaccia most weeks as I like risotto they usually go nicely collectively.’ 

After leaving the household enterprise, Paul went on to develop into head baker at various inns together with London’s Dorchester, Cliveden in Buckinghamshire and the Chester Grosvenor And Spa. It was in these high-pressure, high-end kitchens that he developed his craft. 

Turning into a star was by no means a part of the plan although, and nobody is extra stunned by his success than Paul, who describes himself as ‘only a fats bloke from the Wirral’. 

Today, Paul, 56, seems quietly settled in a relationship with Melissa Spalding, (right) landlady of the Chequers Inn in Smarden, Kent, where he’s been known to moonlight as the pizza chef

At the moment, Paul, 56, appears quietly settled in a relationship with Melissa Spalding, (proper) landlady of the Chequers Inn in Smarden, Kent, the place he’s been identified to moonlight because the pizza chef

He made his first TV appearances when he was working at a five-star resort in Cyprus, which is the place he met Alex, who was working as a scuba-diving teacher. 

He quickly grew to become a daily on British TV reveals, however his huge break got here in 2010 when he was chosen to be the choose on what even the producers imagined would solely be a distinct segment present on BBC2. However it recurrently attracts audiences of as much as 9 million every week. 

Now everybody needs a slice of Paul’s cake. His Twitter account has develop into a bible for these seeking to good their loaves, and even his former fellow choose Mary Berry has sought his counsel on her bread recipes. 

‘I discover the entire journey bizarre,’ he says. ‘It’s like one thing out of a bloody film as a result of I by no means set out to do that. I got down to be a good baker, that’s all. On the first Bake Off audition they emptied a bag of stuff onto the desk for me to critique. 

 I’ve been accused of not caring on Bake Off, however when folks break down I’ll give them a hug

‘There have been muffins, rolls, pies… it took about ten minutes! Then about 4 months later we have been filming. 

‘My mum retains each single media slicing about me. She sticks them in a scrapbook, and as I’m flicking via I’m pondering, “Why the hell have you ever reduce that out?” It’s a nightmare for me, however she’s very proud.’ 

For the previous few years the line-up has been Paul and Prue as judges with Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas as hosts after Matt took over from Sandi Toksvig in 2020. 

‘There’s at all times a pleasure going again into the Bake Off marquee as a result of it smells of freshly reduce grass, like an enormous greenhouse, and there are all of the summery plates,’ says Paul. ‘It’s a comfortable, completely happy place. We frequently get the giggles. 

‘Prue may innocently come out with one thing, like speaking about somebody’s balls, the dough ones, and I’ll say, “You possibly can’t say that Prue!” A couple of instances Matt, Noel and me have gotten the giggles so badly I’ve needed to depart the marquee.’ 

The contestants don’t at all times get the giggles although, and Paul has admitted he toughened up in 2019, leaving all of the bakers in tears within the technical challenges, which take a look at their data of basic recipes and strategies. 

‘I’ve been accused of not caring about them, and other people have damaged down, however I’ve given them a hug and whispered, “It’s only a sport, it doesn’t matter,”’ says Paul. ‘Once we’ve completed filming they speak to me and I can say, “I might have completed this, this and that…” however I can’t have interaction with them whereas we’re filming.’

Naturally his followers soften in entrance of him, and on his reside excursions they squeal as if he have been a boyband star. However he takes all this in his stride. 

‘I don’t consider myself as ugly, however I don’t class myself as handsome. I’m only a regular man in an uncommon job. 

Paul pictured with his Great British Bake Off colleagues Noel Fielding and Prue. He describes the tent as a 'cosy, happy place'

Paul pictured together with his Nice British Bake Off colleagues Noel Fielding and Prue. He describes the tent as a ‘cosy, completely happy place’

‘I’ve by no means dyed my hair as a result of I believe when you begin doing that you just’re in a world of hassle. So I’ll develop previous disgracefully. I could be grumpy however I attempt to put on a smile on my face.’ 

He’s much less sanguine about his waistline and health ranges, however right now he lays to relaxation the parable that he goes on a food plan earlier than filming – or certainly ever. 

‘I must lose some weight, which I’ve began to do, truly. However I believe finally should you could be wholesome that’s the primary factor. 

‘I’m not a believer in diets because it’s a bit opposite to every little thing I do, however I do consider in train and in slicing down your consumption. And in consuming plenty of water.’ 

So if he might take away one factor from his mom’s scrapbook, what would it not be? ‘The place do I begin?’ he laughs heartily. 

‘However I hope this message goes in it – put away your PlayStations and social media and get out a bowl of flour, some eggs and butter, and get baking.’ 

  • Bake: My Greatest Ever Recipes For The Classics by Paul Hollywood shall be printed on 9 June by Bloomsbury, £26. See provide p78



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