In his mid-twenties, Chris was given just three months to live after being diagnosed with the cancer Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. “I’ve only got one lung as a result but I am still here,” Chris says. “When you are poorly and in hospital for such a long time, your life revolves around the television a lot.
“I hope those unfortunate enough to find themselves in hospital watching this year’s GBBO will think, ‘Hey that can be me next year, I can do that’ when they watch me. I really do hope I can inspire people. That would be amazing.”
Chris is a Guinness World Record holder for ‘Most published newspaper article’ after he wrote a piece about prostate cancer, and he also has his own book, The Cancer Survivors Club.
He lives in Bristol with his wife Catherine, and also enjoys sailing, travelling, writing and visiting bakeries.
What is Chris’ baking style?
Obsessed with the science behind baking, Chris likes to create healthy (yet unusual) flavour combinations – especially since recovering from cancer, which inspired him to examine what exactly he was eating.
But despite his usual orderly approach to recording timings, humidity and temperatures, Chris found himself having to re-think his methods in the tent. “I am very methodological and I’ve got more spreadsheets than you’d know,” he says. “But they all went out the window in the tent.”
He will happily admit that cake is not his “thing”, but viewers can expect him to be much better at bread – something he’s had a great chat with Paul Hollywood about as the two discussed their favourite bakeries.
Chris admits he was “terrified” when he entered the tent. “It just felt so surreal to be suddenly in there. We were all giggly as we were so nervous,” he says. “They talk about ‘tent brain’ and there really is such a thing. “When I went to read the technical challenge for the first time, I found myself not actually reading anything, then having to have another go!”
That probably explains his struggle with the first week’s chocolate mini rolls technical challenge – he came last. His pork pie cake showstopper too failed to impress judges Paul and Prue – but surely he’ll conquer his nerves and crack it in Biscuit Week?