What is the difference is between judging on “Celebrity Holiday” versus a regular season episode?
The difference is the bakers. The celebrity bakers tend not to be any good at baking broadly. They’re there for very good reasons. They want to help raise money for a charity, or they’re there because they’re fans of “Bake Off” and they think it’ll be huge fun to do it. They’re not generally there because they think that they’re the greatest bakers on God’s good earth. What is lovely about it on the celebrity ones, the holiday specials and things, is it’s so much more relaxed, because nobody really thinks they’re going to win.
Halfway through, they begin to realize that they might win, and so then they get more competitive and start to get a bit more serious about it. At the beginning, they’re mostly camping around and being full of joie de vivre and excited to be there. They’re on a jaunt, really. They’re having fun, and I like that, because it is much less serious and jollier really.
Celebrities, just like the rest of us, absolutely love meeting other celebrities. When you get six of them in a room together, it’s like a party. They’re all so keen to make their number with their hero, who might be DeAndre or somebody who they’ve admired, or they know them because they’ve met them before. It’s like an old pals reunion.
What was your first impression of this year’s celebrity contestants?
They were lovely fun. I had read up about them and I realized they were quite a famous bunch. I didn’t know they were that famous because I don’t follow — they’re American stars and we don’t see much of them. DeAndre Jordan — we don’t follow basketball, but even I knew who he was, and he was terrific fun because he was lovely and friendly and excited, and I absolutely fell in love with him. I thought, “This is the most beautiful man, and he’s the only man I’ve met for a very long time, who’s at least a foot taller than me, probably more so, that was lovely.”
I loved them all, and I was very impressed with [Ego Nwodim]. She was so lovely and such fun, but they were all very friendly. None of them were standoffish or grand or too important to talk to you. That was nice.
Was there a favorite or most surprising bake that came from this year’s competition?
I can’t remember. I spent my life judging “Bake Off” one way or another. I can’t remember anything that anybody’s baked. I should be able to, but I can’t.