The most dramatic thing to happen in last year’s final of The Great British Bake Off didn’t even take place on screen.
Instead, just hours before the final aired, new judge Prue Leith accidentally revealed the winner to be Sophie Faldo owing to a mis-timed tweet.
Now, in an interview with the new issue of Radio Times, Leith has reflected on the incident. “It was very scary at the time and horrible,” she says now. “I had so many people saying, ‘You ruined my life, how could you?'”
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The production company, Love Productions, had sent her a message telling her to remember to congratulate the winner after 10.30pm. However she was on holiday in Bhutan with her husband, and Leith got the time zones confused.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s after 10.30.’ And so I immediately tweeted. And of course it was five hours out or something.”
But the slip-up hasn’t stopped Leith from being outspoken. In the same interview, she reveals her thoughts on school lunches, the government’s new sugar tax and how she argued with Michael Gove.
“The sugar tax alone won’t do it, but I think it’s a good idea,” Leith tells Radio Times. “I think that the most important thing is to teach children to cook at schools. And not only to cook but to understand about where their food comes from.”
She adds that she believes this should be part of school curriculum, similar to that of Finland.
“The end goal is making children want to eat healthily,” Leith explains. “And it’s just like maths, you know? The parents can’t say ‘This is none of my business,’ [because] it’s government money that has to pay for the obesity crisis… I had this argument with Michael Gove when he was education secretary.
“I said, ‘If you made it part of the curriculum and part of the schools’ responsibility to address the lack of children’s knowledge on food and eating… you can justify that.”
She also adds that she would “ban lunchboxes. I think however well-educated a parent is… very few parents really give their children healthy lunchboxes because of the pressure from the kids.
“The kids say, ‘I get that, and Lucy gets that and Emily gets that, why can’t I?’ In Finland they don’t let any children bring anything into school and it’s confiscated if they see it. So they all sit down, have a proper meal, learn. Lunchtime is a lesson during which the kids should be learning to share and respect each other, by which they mean table manners. They should learn to play nicely and share, and hey all help in the kitchen and they clean up.”
The four of them – Prue, Paul and presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding – have all become so close that they are all actually going on a mini-break to Copenhagen later in the year. “To see the Tivoli Gardens at Christmas,” says Leith.