The Great British Bake Off interview: Richard Burr

Radio Times talks to the builder turned baking maestro ahead of tonight's final

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Peering through the oven door is a regular sight in the Bake Off tent. Can you see through your oven window at home?
You must be joking! My oven is “well-used”: we have two kids, a dog and people streaming through the kitchen. It’s pandemonium. All the equipment I own has never cost more than a tenner, so going into the Bake Off tent has been amazing: everything’s clean, everything works.

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Do baking and building go hand in hand?
I’m very tactile. I love to make stuff and don’t mind getting dirty. The tent felt familiar with all the cameramen and crew hanging around. It was like being on site surrounded by tradesmen, only a bit cleaner and with less swearing.

Are you proud to show that boys can bake?
I hope we’ve turned over some stereotypes. Builders aren’t particularly known for their cooking abilities, but I think more fellas should bake. Bread’s easy, it’s only four ingredients, and even if you make it badly people are appreciative.

How have you balanced work and Bake Off?
I run my own business with my dad, and I owed him quite a lot of time off by the end. We kept things going, but it was exhausting. Up at six, work all day, get home, put the kids to bed and only start practising at about 8pm. Eating chocolate pudding at midnight is probably not the best way to live your life!

Why did you apply?
I applied for the show on New Year’s Day. I’d made all the cakes for Christmas, plus a Christmas pudding, a big gingerbread house and all the trimmings. My wife Sarah said I should do it, and because I had such a hangover on New Year’s Day I agreed for a bit of peace and quiet.

I left Sarah to do the writing. Next thing I knew I had the production company phoning me up.

What did you think about the baked Alaska incident with Diana and Iain?
We’d girded our loins and were ready for people to vent their opinions one way or another. We’d spent so much time getting to know each other that we cocooned ourselves from the worst of it. While we’re on TV we’re essentially owned by the public – they can say what they like.

Do you always have a pencil behind your ear?
I’m a builder, of course I do! I didn’t even notice I had it in for the first bake, but the crew noticed it, and from that moment on everyone was always asking where my pencil was.

Has Bake Off changed you?
I can’t walk into Greggs now, can I? If I’m walking down the road with a Curly Wurly I suddenly feel I’m not doing The Great British Bake Off any favours. Where’s my artisan pastry?

What’s next?
Being self-employed with an established business is great, but having been stretched so much by the Bake Off process I’d hate to just go back to baking birthday cakes. Maybe I should start building a new range of kitchens, and throw a couple of baking lessons into the bargain! 

Paul and Mary’s verdict

Paul says: “Whether Richard’s mixing up plaster, cement, dough or pastry, he knows about consistency. It’s like working a cement mixer. That’s why he does so well.”

Mary says: “I think he was the one who practised more than anybody at home.”

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The Great British Bake Off final is on BBC1 tonight at 8.00pm