Who is Paul Hollywood?

Everything you knead to know about master baker and Great British Bake Off star…

Paul Hollywood, Bake Off (C4, EH)

As the frontman of The Great British Bake Off, Paul Hollywood remained at the helm of the beloved BBC programme when it jumped ship to Channel 4 in 2016.

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While his original partnership with national treasure and all-round icon Mary Berry was hailed as ‘the secret ingredient’ that made Bake Off so hugely popular, he still managed to cook up a storm with new judge Prue Leith and hosts Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, who joined the show on the new network.

But there’s far more to the 52-year-old bread bastion Hollywood than just Bake Off and his blue steel gaze.

Here’s everything you need to know…

Paul Hollywood – the early years

Son of a baker, Hollywood was born in the Wirral, Cheshire, in 1966. Originally heading to college to study sculpting, Hollywood decided to swap clay for dough and dropped out of school to work at his father’s bakery – the brilliantly-titled ‘Bread Winner’.

Hollywood’s impressive baking skills saw him then work up the chain to become head baker at a series of luxury hotels, including London’s The Dorchester and Buckinghamshire’s Cliveden House.

After a brief stint as a baker in the sun in Cyprus, Hollywood returned to the UK and landed a series of guest spots as a celebrity chef on numerous daytime TV shows, before landing the esteemed judging spot on Bake Off.

What shows did Paul Hollywood star in before Bake Off?

His first appearance was on Carlton Food Network and Taste in 2002, when he co-presented two TV series with James Martin.

Hollywood earned his crust as a celeb baker by starring on This Morning and The Alan Titchmarsh Show – as seen in this fun clip where he judges Atomic Kitten’s bread-baking skills; not quite Bake Off standard, but it’s a start.

Hollywood also popped up on BBC One’s now defunct spiritual programme, The Heaven and Earth Show, as a guest.

What has Paul Hollywood done outside of Bake Off?

It was BBC’s Bake Off that sent Hollywood’s career stratospheric – with America desperate to launch a similarly demure baking programme in order to emulate its success across the pond.

Paul Hollywood Bake Off

Step forward The American Baking Competition – the short-lived answer to Bake Off which premiered in 2013.

Its premise was simple – the show aimed to fund the best amateur baker in the US through a series of three challenges – a signature, a technical and a show-stopper dish. So far, so Bake Off.

What differed from its British counterpart was its prize, with the winner of the American Baking Competition $250,000 and a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster – which is one off from our version of the show, where the winner gets a bouquet of flowers and a picnic, fundamentally.

Despite looking and feeling like Bake Off, the show failed to emulate the same huge ratings for the States, with network CBS giving the show the chop after just one series.

But despite The American Baking Competition being an all-American let down, our cousins across the pond tried to launch the show once more in 2015 under the new guise of The Great American Baking Show. While Mary Berry was a judge on the first two series, Hollywood took the reins in 2017.

However, the reboot was pulled from air in December last year after the show’s co-host, Johnny Iuzzini, was accused of sexual harassment.

“In light of allegations that recently came to our attention, ABC has ended its relationship with Johnny Iuzzini and will not be airing the remainder of The Great American Baking Show episodes,” the network told USA Today.

What shows has Paul Hollywood been on away from Bake Off?

His popularity as a judge in Bake Off has seen him star at the helm of his own baking shows, including BBC Two series Paul Hollywood’s Bread in 2013 and Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds in the same year.

There’s also been a mix of travel in some of his newer baking shows, including Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road Trip and Hollywood’s City Bakes.

When was Paul Hollywood on Who Do You Think You Are?

Hollywood delved into his family history in the 12th series of the show in 2015, in an emotional episode which saw him learn how his grandfather fought in two major skirmishes during the Second World War.

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Reading his grandfather’s love letters, he tells the cameras he has ‘something in his eye’ in highly emotional scenes.