The shocking scene inside the Bake Off tent is one that the show’s former presenter Mel Giedroyc will never forget.Casually checking on the bakers, she was horrified to discover that four had fainted on top of their benches and two lay flat on their backs.
“It was so vivid, it was really bizarre,” she recalled hours after her ‘trauma.’
Fortunately for Mel, who recently left the hugely popular show after seven years, the scene was all a dream and not the real-life nightmare it could have been.
“I had to wake Ben, my husband, and tell him straight away,” adds Mel (48) who admits she misses both the show and working with her old pals Sue Perkins, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
In fact, she had the dream just after filming would normally have started, had she stayed with the series when it moved from the BBC to Channel 4.
“We’d have probably done one already by now. It could well be why I had the dream. It is on my mind at the moment; as soon as the blossom comes out, it’s Bake Off time,” she says at the time of our interview in late April.
So does she really miss ‘that cake show’ as she’s jokingly referred to it in the past? “Definitely. It was a big part of our lives for seven years from early April to July every single weekend. It’s quite a big hole, but all good things come to an end.”
She’s still “very much in touch” with the others, though. Sue is an old friend and colleague from their days at Cambridge University together and she spoke to Mary over Easter.
“Paul tends to text and I occasionally get bouts of texts,” she adds. He also gave her an “amazing” bread recipe.
“It is a kind of cheat loaf that you don’t have to knead, just leave for 24 hours in a bowl covered with clingfilm. It’s called a knead-free American loaf or something and it’s sublime; a bit like sourdough. He’s a complete expert.” So she can bake in real life?
“I have to say over the seven years of doing Bake Off, you can’t really help but get involved and enthused almost by osmosis. My enthusiasm has definitely increased but I’m not sure how highly skilled I am. It’s the finesse that definitely flumoxes me; like fashioning orchids out of spun sugar. I couldn’t be doing that. I haven’t got the patience.”
Baking isn’t a skill she’ll have any need for in her new role as host of BBC1’s brand new Saturday night entertainment music show, Pitch Battle. The six-part series, due to start in early summer, will see rival musical groups competing against each other to be judged by the nation’s favourite choirmaster, Gareth Malone, and superstar singer Kelis.
Music lover, Mel says: “It will be really good fun. I am an off-the-cuff singer. I love it but am not trained in the field of singing.”
Her Bake Off experience will be put to good use this month though when she supports Marie Curie’s summer fundraising campaign – Blooming Great Tea Party – as she has done in recent years. “Bake Off brought us together and I’m honoured to be asked as I’ve always really enjoyed doing it. No-one in my family has been nursed by Marie Curie but I’ve met these ladies and they’re all absolutely wonderful.”
At the end of June, during her week off, she will be hosting a tea party at her London home for “all my local mates.” She’ll have some help though. “I might wheel in my sister Coky who is a very good baker. She’s five years older than me and very good at batch baking.”
Mel’s daughters – who were taught by her mother-in-law to make mean Victoria sponges – will also be involved. “I will get them doing something. They are very good bakers but just need a little bit of assistance with the cleaning up at the end of things…”
After cutting a few of her favourite egg sandwiches on “a cheap and cheerful sliced loaf” Mel says all she need do is, “brew tea and put up my feet up.”
With her second BBC show now being filmed – the word game Letterbox – in time for its daytime debut later this year, there won’t be much time for relaxing. If she hadn’t chosen a demanding TV career, what would she have done?
“I would like to think I’d have been a nurse like my mum Rosemary (80) was in the early years, but I’m not quite sure if I’d have the patience. I am not very good at staying up late so night shifts might have been a bit of a problem!”
- For more info on how to get involved in the Blooming Great Tea Party visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/teaparty
- Pitch Battle is on Saturdays, 7.30pm, BBC1.
- The Great British Bake off will air over the summer on Channel 4
- Interview and words by Carole Richardson