Hollywood's Rise To Fame

Written by Ben Felsenburg

Ol’ blue eyes is back. In fact, it’s almost as if he’s never been away, but just weeks after The Great British Bake Off finished for this year, Paul Hollywood: A Baker’s Life (Monday, Channel 4, 8pm) sees the return of the grey-haired smoothie. Nowadays he may be a deliciously dishy slice of beefcake for his legions of fans but, as Hollywood recounts, back in 2010 he was an unknown humble baker in Kent. That all changed thanks to an audition tape in which he proved to be a natural, and watching the footage – screened for the first time – in which he all but literally tears apart some particularly poor bread bought from a local shop, provides a fascinating glimpse of how he already had the fully formed persona of a savagely cruel judge. Then there was the crucial chemistry with Mary Berry, prompting Hollywood’s explanation: ‘I got on well. Maybe the accent helped. A bit of Northern rough...’

Screened to accompany his new book, Hollywood’s series takes him back inside the famous tent, and for once the tables are turned as we see how he fares tackling a baking challenge, joined by his Bake Off buddies Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding. Also featuring his memories of growing up on Merseyside (look out for the chubby toddler in the vintage photos) and handy cooking tips – including how to cook pizza with distinctive pizzazz – this light, bright entertaining half hour is yet another reason to say hooray for Hollywood.