The ever-twinkle-eyed Mary Berry has paid her Great British Bake Off colleagues Mel and Sue a qualified compliment about their skills in the kitchen...
“Mel and Sue are competent bakers… just,” said Berry during a session at the Cheltenham Literature Festival – adding that the duo are well-placed to provide guidance and moral support to the contestants on the BBC2 baking show where she and co-judge Paul Hollywood cannot.
“I can’t intervene but they go and give a bit of holding hands and sort of ‘Well I’ll hold one end while you pull the other’ if it’s something like filo pastry,” said Berry. “They just comfort them.”
The 78-year-old judge was also quick to point out that Bake Off is one of the few TV cookery competitions in which contestants regularly help one another out.
“They do actually look across at each other and, it’s strange, but they help each other,” said Berry. “If they’re making a cake and they want colouring in it and they haven’t got it they’ll go and borrow it from somebody on the next table, and they’ll say ‘Well I was just going to use it but you have it’.
“They want to win but they also think of the others – it’s a very nice atmosphere. They all get on and they’re concerned about the person that’s [leaving the competition].”
Berry had further praise for hosts Mel and Sue, too. “They are a sheer delight to work with,” she said, “it is laughter all the way. They were at university together so they love meeting up at Bake Off and we just have a great time.”