“Henry telling Paul to ‘shut up’ was a corker – but he did cheat in that technical!” Bake Off’s Sophie Faldo on Festival Week

In her weekly Bake Off column, 2017 champion Sophie Faldo has her say on the drama dished up on Festival Week

Sophie Bake Off 2017 (her own image)

We’re hurtling through to the final stages of The Great British Bake Off 2019, with our six remaining bakers taking on tricky Festival Week in a bid to impress Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

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RadioTimes.com Bake Off columnist and former champion Sophie Faldo talks us through this week’s events, serving up her thoughts on Steph’s reign as Star Baker, the cheating antics of one contestant – and whether the technical challenges even matter any more…

“Paul bangs on about the Star Baker curse…”

Paul Hollywood, Bake Off (C4, EH)
Paul Hollywood, Bake Off (C4, EH)

I think that’s b******s because it’s only really happened once or twice, and then he went on to say ‘curse of the Star Baker’ – but the whole point of the rule is that it happens more often than normal, and it doesn’t happen that often. It’s a rare occurrence where people have done really well one week, then lose it the next.

It’s interesting that Steph is really consistent at a very high level. So no, I think it makes you realise that you’re up there, you’ve just got to kind of not rest on your laurels and keep going into every week knowing you could be out if you don’t work hard.

“I’ve noticed a pattern with Hollywood handshakes…”

Paul Hollywood handshake

Paul is more likely to give out handshakes for things that are dough related. When it’s in his realm and he knows the thing he is judging – he gives out more bread related handshakes for that than he does for other stuff. It also depends on what mood he’s in – you can never really tell.

“Henry telling Paul to shut up was a corker – but he did cheat in that technical!”

You can make a lot of memes out of Henry. It was lovely because you could genuinely see his surprise. He did get help from Sandi Toksvig in the technical, and technically that would be against the rules – but we’ll let him off for that one, because it’s Henry. The hosts seem to be more helpful this year. They were pretty strict with us, especially on the timings. I was quite surprised. I’m jealous!

“You can steal stuff from the tent!”

Henry said last week about stealing things – and you can, but only what you’re allowed to take – cake stands, spatulas, whisks. You can take your own equipment, but things tend to get left behind that people get to pinch at the end. I was heartbroken because I wasn’t allowed to take the cake stand I made my final ever showstopper on.

“No-one’s ever that bothered about technicals”

We have to turn around and face away as Prue and Paul debate the technical. They’re really quiet, so we honestly can’t hear. But technicals are one of the ones where, if you’re going to get criticism, that’s the one you want it because no-one really cares.

I think technicals are less significant, they always have been. I think they do weight it more towards the show-stopper, then it’s the signature and then the technical is more of a tie-breaker. It must be really disheartening to come top in the technical as it’s such proof of your ability, but then to be sent home is really s**t.

“I don’t miss Bake Off’s more traditional themes”

I thought Festival Week was a potentially odd theme, but it was quite fun as they introduced different sorts of cultural bakes from different festivals.

I don’t miss the traditional themes. I like the fact it’s making everyone think a little bit more and getting the bakers to try things that are potentially quite new. Otherwise you’re seeing the same things over and over. I think you start running out of ideas and you don’t want to recycle the same themes every time. I think it’s good it’s being changed up.

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