As the final approaches, Radio Times has caught up with Bake Off heart-throb Tamal. The 28-year-old senior house officer in intensive care at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, is also studying for membership of the Royal College of Anaesthetists.
How has being on Bake Off gone down with your patients?
It’s a great icebreaker! In the morning I see my patients on that day’s operating list, and talking about Bake Off helps with the tension a bit. I didn’t think the consultants were particularly interested, but I made some muffins recently and they all went mad for them.
And at the end of my set of night shifts this week I’ve been asked to stay on during the day and judge a hospital Bake Off. It’s the last thing I want to do, to be honest!
How much practice did you do?
Before the first episode is recorded, you have to have made up your recipes for the entire show. From then on, you have four to five weeks to prepare, and successive deadlines. I have had so many deadlines throughout medical school that I suppose I’m used to it. But this was something new – making up recipes in such quantities, and in such a small amount of time.
Do you have a good kitchen?
Not really… I share my flat with a very understanding guy but we have about two feet of worktop, which is a bit of a nightmare to practise on. We do have a nice big living room, though, which I basically took over. It ended up looking like a bombsite made of cake, with piles of ingredients everywhere!
What did you do with the practice cakes?
To be honest, a lot of it got thrown away. I told my manager at work that I was in a cooking programme, but I didn’t say which one. So if I had brought them all to work, everyone would have guessed. I gave a lot to my mates and family, but there are only so many Madeira cakes you can give away…
Did you put on any weight?
I lost weight, actually. I stopped doing a weekly shop and cooking for myself because I was baking all the time. So anything I ate was just scraps that I had left around. My bathroom scales broke halfway through filming, but I am sure I lost a couple of kilos. Gained it all back since, of course!
Tamal with Bake Off co-host Sue Perkins
Was the experience nerve-racking?
Week one was the worst, because you are full of self-doubt. I became quite superstitious during the filming process. Firstly, I had to have sushi on the way to each episode. There were two weeks when I did really badly, and those were the weeks when I didn’t have sushi, so from then on it was a must. I wore my lucky socks, too. I’m a Hindu, and I prayed quite a lot. I usually pray for other people, I don’t normally ask for things, but that changed. I suppose there is a God of Food, but I didn’t pray to him. I just prayed in a general sense and sent it out there.
You have acquired heart-throb status since the show began – do you have a girlfriend?
I wouldn’t have a girlfriend, I would have a boyfriend, but I am single at the moment. Although, yes, I have had a few offers on Twitter!