The Great British Bake Off - meet the finalists

Ahead of tonight's final, we chat with the three remaining contenders, James, John and Brendan - and ask you to vote for your winner

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The Great British Bake Off - meet the finalists
Written By
Claire Webb and Tina Ogle

James MortonJAMES MORTON, 21, medical student, Glasgow

Have you been tuning in to the show?

You need to watch to know what to expect when people stop you in the street. Waitrose is the real danger zone. I was getting stopped so much I’ve started shopping in Tesco. A surprising number of men stop me – I didn’t realise so many Glaswegian men watched Bake Off!

It’s the ladies you’ve really been a hit with –  how does it feel to be a heartthrob?

Um, I just think it’s hilarious. I had 60 Twitter followers before; now I have 28,000. It all started after the third episode when I got “star” baker and wore a tank top – I think people confused their attraction to the tank top with liking me. The Fair Isle jumpers were a deliberate decision as I’m a proud Shetlander. They did get a bit smelly after a long day’s filming in that warm tent, I must confess.

What was your worst moment?

The gingerbread house. It was the same week as my end-of-year exams so I hadn’t practised at all – as you probably could tell. I had to sacrifice a lot of baking practise for study and vice versa. I’d underestimated how much time it would take up, and thought I could study in the evenings. But I was so, so tired I just wanted to get some savoury food in me because I’d been eating sugar all day – and go straight to bed. I told my parents I was managing fine when in fact I was really stressed and absolutely sure I was going to fail my exams. Thankfully I didn’t.

If you do win Bake Off, will it change your life?

I’ve got three years left at university so I’ve absolutely no temptation to jack in medicine, but I’d like to invent some recipes of my own for my blog – and whisky might well feature! They didn’t show it but I got quite a stern telling-off from both Mary and Paul for adding too much whisky to all my bakes. But I still think it would go down well in Glasgow.


John WhaiteJOHN WHAITE, 23, law student, Manchester

Have you been tuning in?

Yes, it’s been really weird watching myself. I think I’m more nervous about watching myself than when I was filming it. Compared to this, baking in front of Paul and Mary was a complete dream.

But I’ve been getting some good feedback. Lots of followers on Twitter and stuff generally, good reactions. I’ve been recognised a few times. The first time it happened, I’d just done a length of the swimming pool. This woman said, “Oh, are you on Bake Off?” She recognised me without my clothes on!

What was your worst moment – when you sliced open your hand?

That happened when I was making the strudel dough. I grabbed the dough in the Magimix to test the consistency, and forgot the blade was in there. It was a moment of pure stupidity.

One thing I’d always said was that I didn’t want to get through on default, I wanted to go through on merit. I was gutted when I thought I was getting through just because I cut my finger. Then I realised that no one was going home so that was a bit more fair.

But in the following week, which was the enriched doughs, I messed up all three rounds – Chelsea buns, doughnuts and stollen – and it didn’t go well at all. After the first day I went back to my hotel room and was sure I was going to get kicked out. It was during the finals of my law degree, too.

But I’d do it all over again, I really would. I love baking that much. I’ve always baked as therapy in times of stress, and it’s helped me be really organised. I can’t draw or paint, so baking is how I express my creative streak.

If you do win Bake Off, will it change your life?

I’ve been studying law, but it’s not something I really have an interest in – I really want to go down the baking route. I love it enough to want to make it into a career, to be innovative and write recipes. I want to try and go to the Cordon Bleu or the Ritz Escoffier to try to hone my repertoire, then open an establishment in Manchester and maybe London.


Brendan Lynch BRENDAN LYNCH, 63, company director, Birmingham

Have you been tuning in?

I find it compulsive watching – it’s fascinating to see how about 22 hours of filming are edited down to one hour. It’s a very busy environment with 50 production staff there and it took me a while to settle in. What’s been extraordinary is the number of fans that I’m attracting. I wasn’t a tweeter before and I didn’t have a Facebook page but from a zero start in August I now have nearly 16,000 followers! And I have my own website.

What’s been your worst moment?

I didn’t think a clementine and chestnut torte was 70s, so I was a bit puzzled when Paul described it like that in the desserts week. But it seemed to stick and I was told I looked a bit rattled about it. I wasn’t rattled, I was simply trying to work out what triggered it. So I decided to put a picture of myself in the 70s, when I was about 22 or 23, on my Facebook page and that’s been a real talking point.

And the tarte tatin the week before was a big wake-up call for me. I didn’t really understand the new technology ovens and I misunderstood the setting so it didn’t bake enough. But it made me decide “Right, that’s it, I’m going for it.”

And the best?

There have been quite a few highlights, really. The strudel pastry was great fun to make and I think it’s easier to make than flaky pastry.

The other one I was particularly proud of was the showstopper American Pie. I’d created that specially for the show and I used colours with blueberries and raspberries and Chantilly cream and that, too, was a big success.

There was a good sense of camaraderie and support. We were often ticked off for wandering over to one another and offering advice! In the end they gave up trying to keep us apart because we would always find a way of meeting up by the fridge surreptitiously!

If you do win Bake Off, will it change your life?

I saw Gareth Malone, the choirmaster, go into an old people’s home and gather them into a choir. That really inspired me and I’d like to take my baking into old people’s homes. It would give them a purpose and something to do so that they feel they matter. I’m talking to an organisation that has 32 homes and they have expressed an interest.


Don't miss the final of The Great British Bake Off - tonight at 8:00pm on BBC2

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