I was a Bake Off finalist – here's why Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith could already have favourites BEFORE show starts | The Sun

A BRAND new set of amateur bakers are heading into the tent tonight to showcase their skills on The Great British Bake Off.

But a former finalist on the show has now revealed that the baking hopefuls may have met judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith already – and they most likely have their favourites.

Kimberley Wilson got to the finals of the 2013 series of Bake Off, eventually won by Frances Quinn.

Now a psychologist, she’s revealed all the secrets from the show – including the gruelling start times and what happens to the food afterwards.

Technical challenge BEFORE the show

A keen baker, Kimberley was 30 when she decided to apply for Bake Off.

Following an extensive 16-page application form, including “your history in food, what you like to make, and kitchen disasters,” successful candidates are given an interview with producers.

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“It’s basically a clearing interview, where you bring something in, and they check whether you actually made the cake yourself or just bought it,” laughs Kimberley. “They’re like, ‘So what was the recipe for that?’”

Following that round is a screen test “to see whether you freeze on TV or not”, and then after that you do a live test.

She explains: “You basically do a technical challenge, as like a little test before you’re on the show.

“In my year, Paul and Mary Berry judged it!”

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'Like a marathon'

Paul now judges Bake Off with Prue LeithCredit: Channel 4 / Mark Bourdillon / Love Productions

Kimberley was working and studying in London when she got on the show, which filmed every weekend in Somerset.

She recalls: “I was working through the week and then got the train down on the Friday night, baked all weekend and then got the train home on Monday morning to live my life and practise my recipes to do it again the following week.

“So it's not like a lovely holiday camp where all you do is bake. It's Bake Off in between the rest of your life, it's hardcore.”

Warning from host

The days for the contestants were extremely long when it came to filming too.

Contestants would do the signature challenge on a Saturday morning, the technical challenge in the afternoon, and then spend most of Sunday baking their Showstopper.

She says: “We stayed in a hotel in Bristol, and they bus you in at five in the morning to the tent. 

“In the first few weeks, we would start baking at about seven and they were 12 to 14-hour days. It was really exhausting.”

One of the former presenters, Mel Giedroyc, actually gave contestants a warning halfway through the series.

She adds: “In week five, Mel pulled us over and was like 'Guys, from here on, it's just endurance', and it really was. It was like a marathon.”

What happens to the food

When it comes to the food, one of the biggest questions is where it all goes once Prue and Paul have tasted it.

And Kimberley reveals it mostly goes to the crew.

In fact, during her series, the bakers had to demand some of their food was left over for them to eat – as they kept missing out.

She explains: “As soon as you're finished baking, they take you outside for chats to camera, and then you come back and, I kid you not, the crew come in with Tupperware and massive rolls of foil. 

“We had to start asking, 'Can we please actually get some?' and so they started portioning off a bit for the bakers and then the rest would go to the crew."

Kimberley has been working with The Food Warehouse by Iceland – who found 71 per cent of people are still using their dining table as a desk, following the pandemic.

And she’s advising families to have at least one meal a week together – with phones and technology put away, in order to enjoy each other’s company.

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She says: “Ideally, family mealtimes are an opportunity to switch off from the outside world, but the survey reveals a fairly high level of ‘technoference’, where technology interrupts our relationships. 

“Digital distractions can impair relationship quality, emotional wellbeing and even have negative effects on children’s behaviour.”

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