Bake Off’s Tom Gillford admits he “wanted to impress Mary Berry the most”

The seventh contestant to leave the GBBO tent wanted to win over the outgoing judge as he admits he was struck by "the curse of the star baker"

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The Great British Bake Off’s Tom Gillford has admitted he “wanted to impress Mary the most” as he became the seventh to leave the tent.

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Judge Mary Berry, 81, will say goodbye to the Bake Off when it moves from the BBC to Channel 4 – but Tom revealed how much the baking matriarch’s praise is valued by contestants.

“I wanted to impress Mary the most and to get a good comment from her,” he explained. 

“If Mary says something nice you know it’s genuine, that’s the reality.”

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Where Paul Hollywood is the bread expert, Mary knows her cakes – and particularly her sponges, from the days when she used to work as a electric oven demonstrator in Bath.

“When she said I made a good Genoese sponge that was a good feeling,” Tom said.

The 26-year-old really did have a disastrous Dessert Week. His Millionaire’s shortbread roulade was criticised for its plain appearance (cue Tom: “I wanted it to look like a chocolate bar and it did look like a chocolate bar”) and his technical challenge came second-last.

On Showstopper Day he also missed the mark, with a collection of mousse cakes that simply weren’t very mousse-y.

Tom’s disappointing week came after he won Star Baker for the second time in the previous episode – something which he thinks is no coincidence. 

“The curse of the star baker well and truly struck for me,” he explained.

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Having passed on the Star Baker crown to Andrew Smyth, he added: “It’s a great competition, you can’t stoke up an early lead, you are only as good as your last bake.  

“Like horse racing, the favourite sometimes has a stumble and that’s how it is.”

Having weathered Batter Week, Botanical Week and Bread Week, Tom leaves the tent with no regrets about his experimental and ambitious bakes. 

“It’s important to take risks and sometimes I pulled it off and sometimes I didn’t,” he said. “But if you don’t try new things then everything stays the same. Creativity is a risk.”

Tom is also looking forward to relaxing in front of the television with his wife as he watches the remaining bakers battle it out in the tent.

He joked: “From now on I won’t need a cushion to hide behind when I know it’s going to go terribly wrong.”

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The Great British Bake Off continues next Wednesday at 8pm on BBC