Celebrity baker Paul Hollywood will put a twinkle into the eye of Sheffield food lovers when he appears on stage in Sheffield City Hall next year.
Those blues eyes and his no- nonsense, stern manner with contestants have certainly captured the imagination of millions of TV viewers who have been watching the triumphs and dramas of the Great British Bake Off.
Paul said he never imagined the show would be so big. “The show gets 6.5-7 million viewers a week, which is X Factor level. Being shown on Tuesday at 8pm on BBC2 shouldn’t work but it seems to.”
He’s clear about why the show, which finished its third series this week with Frances taking the title, is a success.
“It’s nostalgia, looking at the recipes everybody remembers from when they were kids. It’s what their grandmothers or mothers made them.”
He is all too used to criticism of the judges’ opinions.
Paul said: “I find it very humorous. People get really upset and involved on Twitter if they think we’ve made the wrong decision.
“They’ve only seen the dish, I’ve eaten it and had that sensory overload. How can you judge if I’m right when you haven’t tasted anything?
“You can’t challenge Mary Berry and you can’t challenge me. I get it all the time.”
His blunt approach isn’t put on: “I’ve always been like that, very opinionated. If I don’t like something, I’ll tell the contestants. They learn how to do stuff. If it’s not good, it’s not good. You can’t beat around the bush.”
He has noticed fellow judge Mary Berry has become a little tougher on contestants. And apparently she tells Paul off too if he drives too fast.
He was typically forthright about Sheffield contestant Howard: “Howard’s a good lad but he picked some pretty strange flavours, like hemp and tea.
“Sometimes your own opinions or own flavours don’t really appeal to other people.
“The technique of what he did was perfect.”
There’s only one dish to put before Paul to really make those blues eyes sparkle with joy. “I love bread and butter pudding, just made with normal sliced bread. I like lots of raisins and custard. I don’t like it when it’s bone dry.”
Paul is going to be on our TV screens a lot, with Bake Off specials and a series on pies and puds.
Tickets went on sale this week for Paul Hollywood Live – Get Your Bake On at Sheffield City Hall on May 1. Paul will demonstrate up to four recipes and four lucky audience members will be invited to take part in a baking challenge.
Box office: www.kililive.com or call 0844 871 8803.