Paul Hollywood: I might have been happier without The Great British Bake Off

As the hit BBC2 baking show returns to our screens, the silver-haired baker talks the down side of celebrity

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Paul Hollywood – the silver-haired star of The Great British Bake Off – has opened up about the dark side of his culinary celebrity, saying he might have been happier had he never joined the hit cookery show.

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“I thought I’d spend my life making baguettes, muffins, croissants,” says Hollywood in the new issue of Radio Times. “I might have been happier if I had.”

The 47-year-old star recently split from his wife of 15 years amid rumours of a relationship with his fellow US Bake Off judge Marcela Valladolid.

“Maybe fame has caused a problem,” says Hollywood. “But it’s not fame as such. To nail it to that would be foolhardy. It’s the perfect storm, a blend of everything. One in two marriages fail. I don’t see those people written about in the papers every day.”

And while it might come as a surprise to the scores of women who tune into Bake Off to watch a seemingly rampant Hollywood flex his muscles and grin at the contestants, “the real Paul Hollywood is shy,” he says, and likes “nothing better than going home, putting on slippers and a dressing gown, having a cup of tea and watching telly.”

“One day I’ll disappear and hide in a corner of Britain,” he continues. “I’ll own a bakery in a village, live above it, have a big garden because I like mowing. I want to get up when I feel like it, let people queue for my products and when they’re gone, shut the shop and think about tomorrow. Creating magic – that’s my dream. And I’ll do it.”

Read the full interview with Paul Hollywood and his fellow judge Mary Berry in this week’s Radio Times magazine, on sale now

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The Great British Bake Off returns to BBC2 on Tuesday 20 August at 8pm