Great British Bake Off’s Nancy: I’ve got thick skin but Martha was too young for judges’ criticism

Nancy Birtwhistle says age kept her safe from Paul Hollywood's criticism, but she was worried it might be too much for 17-year-old Martha

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Paul Hollywood has made many a baker well up during five series of The Great British Bake Off, but one contestant this year has had no trouble facing down the baking silverback.

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Nancy Birtwhistle, one of the final four bakers in this year’s competition, says she was never worried about serving up her bakes to judges Paul and Mary, although she feared the experience would be too much for young baker Martha.

“I can remember one time when Martha was really wobbling, and I just wanted to remove her from it,” Nancy told Radio Times. “She’s incredibly strong and confident, but she was only 17. I have years of thick skin, and was prepared to give as much back if I didn’t think criticism was warranted. But she was too young for that.”

60-year-old Nancy also revealed that she was shocked by the reaction to ‘Bingate’, where Diana was accused online of deliberately taking fellow baker Iain’s ice cream out of the freezer.

“That weekend was fraught, incredibly hot and something happened to everybody,” Nancy said. “I remember blowtorching my dessert while it was still in the freezer.

“What happened with Iain and Diana happened, but it wasn’t as if everything was calm and Diana took his ice cream out and left it to melt,” she continued. “It was right next to me, and that ice cream was only out for seconds. When there was this negative response I was quite shocked. Diana was obviously knocked back by the outcry, but I’ve telephoned her since, and she’s all right.”

Nancy will compete in the semi final of this year’s Bake Off on Wednesday 1 October at 8pm on BBC1, where she will face fellow star bakers Richard, Luis and Chetna for a place in the series finale.

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Read more from the Bake Off final four in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, on sale from Tuesday 30 September in shops and on Newsstand for iPad or iPhone