The Great British Bake Off 2017 bakers: Flo Atkins
Age: 71 – the oldest contestant ever to take part in The Great British Bake Off
Day job: Retired
What do you need to know about Flo?
Landing a place on the Bake Off has brought Flo out of a very “bad hole” after her husband Richard died two years ago from leukaemia. The couple had been married for 48 years.
Seeing how she was struggling to get through each day, her son Stephen encouraged her to start baking for his restaurant – and baking quickly became a coping mechanism.
“Even then, I would still cry for hours and hours,” she says. “I was so devastated when Richard died and I was in a bad place. I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t be bothered with life and I just found it so tough. He was such a good man and he was always putting me first.
“Stephen, my son, could see how upset I was and he said ‘come on, bake for me’. That helped me with the grieving process and that’s how my journey to get on The Great British Bake Off started really as my daughter, Nicola, then decided she would apply for me after she spotted an advert! She knew how much I enjoyed baking.”
Her children’s efforts to help Flo through her grief have paid off. “Bake Off has given me a new lease of life,” she explains. “The fact that I am part of the 12 bakers in the tent makes me feel proud.
“It’s taken me out of the black hole I was in and it’s brought me back to the place I was in before Richard died. Suddenly for the first time I am finding myself talking about making plans like having a new kitchen fitted and doing things to my house. Don’t get me wrong, I still sometimes have my bad days but this show really has helped put a smile on my face again.”
Raised alongside her 11 siblings in Huyton, Liverpool, Flo met Richard at the age of 21 while working at a sausage factory. They soon had three young children and she enjoyed creating delicious treats for her family – something that continues to this day.
What is her baking style?
Flo prides herself on being a homely and traditional baker. She enjoys making cakes, and loves baking for her family.
How well is she doing on The Great British Bake Off?
Flo got off to an excellent start. Everyone loved her ‘One in a Melon’ Cake, an illusion cake that looked impressively like a watermelon. Paul Hollywood even said he loved her. Sure, she only got 9th place in the technical, but who cares when you can bake a Showstopper that looks like THIS?
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) August 29, 2017
After a glorious first week, Flo began to struggle. Her Gin Jam Butties were a disaster, she came last in the Technical with a collection of miserable-looking doughy things you’d never mistake for fortune cookies, and her Pick My Bones board game looked a little sloppy. Is Flo in trouble?