Who is Great British Bake Off 2017 contestant James Hillery?

This jolly banker says the Bake Off tent is more stressful than Canary Wharf

Great British Bake Off contestant James

The Great British Bake Off 2017 bakers: James Hillery

Age: 46

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From: Essex

Twitter: @Cluckmuckcook

Day job: Banker

What do you need to know about James?

Great British Bake Off contestant James
Great British Bake Off contestant James (Channel 4)

James describes himself as a “bald baking banker with a bad back” from Brentwood, although he works in London’s Canary Wharf. He lives in Essex with his wife Ann, two sons Oliver and Ethan, and three chickens named Sparkles, Superman and Jeff.

Before he was a banker, James worked as a port diver for the Royal Navy Reserves, keeping the ports clear during the cold war.

He has been practising for Bake Off by forcing his guests to eat cake. “I literally didn’t stop,” he says. “I kept making so many cakes I think my parents have gained about 14 stone! I am joking but I literally wouldn’t let them leave the house without trying a piece of my cake!”

James hopes one day to open a cafe with “fantastic artisan coffee” and “delicious home made bakes”.

What is his baking style?

Great British Bake Off contestant James
Great British Bake Off contestant James (Channel 4)

James’ main baking influence is his father, Brian, who first taught him to bake over 40 years ago.“My dad, Brian, first inspired me to bake as he was always baking at home with us and since working in the city, I have found baking a stress reliever,” he says.

Expect to see lots of homegrown fruit and veg on James’ workbench, as the amateur baker also loves to spend time on his allotment.

How well is he doing on The Great British Bake Off?

“When you see the tip of the tent as you arrive in the grounds, you really do get goose bumps,” he said of his first week on Bake Off. “But oh my goodness! Is it harder baking a cake in the tent than working in the city? 100 times, way harder.”

His first bake, a rhubarb crumble cake, was a little dry according to the judges, but “nothing a bit of custard wouldn’t help” according to Prue Leith.

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While James has never been out of the top three in the Technical Challenge, none of his bakes have been amazingly notable. Can he change this in Bread Week?


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