BRENDAN, 63, COMPANY DIRECTOR, BIRMINGHAM
How old were you when you first started baking?
My mum died when I was very young and my older sisters took over the cooking. I remember trying to make an apple tart aged 11. I made pastry by putting flour and water together, it must have been disgusting. I was brought up in a very strict Catholic tradition in Ireland and it was a bit like Billy Elliot - men didn’t cook or bake, that was women’s work. So it was quickly jumped on, and it wasn't until my late 20s that I took it up again, but it’s been a passionate hobby ever since.
How did you find filming the show?
It took me two or three programmes before I settled in. I found the close scrutiny and endless interviews very strange. Reality television is an odd world but I don’t regret a moment of it. Would I want to do it again? No, I wouldn’t!
Was it fiercely competitive amongst the contestants?
Not overly so. I had been warned because in the last series there had been some difficulties with groups forming and criticising each other. There was one person who was very ambitious and told us every day that they were going to win it but we got used to that. There were no dirty campaigns or subtle digs.
How do you plan on using the skills you've learnt on the show
I saw Gareth Malone, the choirmaster, go into an old people’s home, gather them into a choir and take them to the Royal Albert Hall. That really inspired me and I’d like to use my baking in a similar way. My plan is to take my skills into retirement homes and persuade the managers to allow residents to make their own bread and cakes, for themselves and to sell. I want to give them a purpose so that they feel they matter.