Everything you need to know about Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood

With his firm handshake and steely blue eyes, Paul Hollywood is the only original member of the Bake Off team to remain in the tent


Paul Hollywood is the last remaining member of the original Bake Off crew, and it must have been a pretty weird year for the TV judge. He’s said goodbye to Mary Berry and Mel & Sue, and welcomed his new co-judge Prue Leith to the tent alongside presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig.


It’s all change for the Bake Off, and yet Hollywood remains in that famous tent with his piercing stare and coveted handshakes. But how did he get there in the first place?

Here’s what you need to know:

Age: 51

Twitter: @PaulHollywood

Instagram: paul.hollywood

What was Paul Hollywood famous for before GBBO?

Paul Hollywood with Bake Off newcomers Prue Leith and Noel Fielding
Paul Hollywood with Bake Off newcomers Prue Leith and Noel Fielding (Channel 4)

Paul Hollywood follows in a family tradition: his grandfather was head baker at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool, while dad John F Hollywood owned a bakery in York. Young Paul originally started a sculpture course at the Wallasey School of Art, but he seems to have preferred sculpting bread instead because he soon quit to work in his dad’s bakery.

He went on to become head baker at a number of hotels in the UK (including the Dorchester) and in Cyprus, Egypt and Jordan. Travelling to remote villages, he picked up ancient techniques for baking bread.

While working at a five star hotel in Cyprus, he met his wife Alexandra – at the time a scuba diving instructor. The couple have a teenage son, Josh.

Hollywood built up a reputation for his skill with dough, and has published successful cookbooks including 100 Great Breads and How to Bake.

How did Paul Hollywood end up on TV?

Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith
Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith (Channel 4)

He may be a household name now, but before the Bake Off began in 2010 Hollywood wasn’t exactly famous outside the catering world. His first appearance was on Carlton Food Network and Taste in 2002, when he co-presented two TV series with James Martin.

Then in 2010 he joined GBBO with Mary Berry as his co-judge – a turning point in his career.

A post shared by Paul Hollywood (@paul.hollywood) on

Since then he has also judged Junior Bake Off, Sport Relief and Comic Relief. He’s tried to take the show to US with The American Baking Competition (a flop, and a disaster for his marriage when he had a brief affair with co-host Marcela Valladolid).

But Bake Off success has opened up new opportunities, with other shows including Paul Hollywood’s Bread, genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? and Paul Hollywood City Bakes.


The Great British Bake Off airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4