Interview: Jon Richardson On The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer

The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer starts Tuesday 5th March at 8pm on Channel 4

The star-studded line-up features John Lithgow, Jeremy Paxman, Sally Lindsay, Michelle Keegan, Jon Richardson, Russell Brand, Russell Tovey, Greg Wise, Jess Phillips MP,  James Acaster, Big Narstie, Nicola Adams, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Caroline  Flack, Hannah Cockroft,  Joe Wilkinson, Johnny Vegas, Georgia Toffolo, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, and Rylan Clark-Neal. They will join Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, plus hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding for a bake off like no other. Jon Richardson talks about taking part below.

 

So, Jon: can you bake?

I think anyone can bake, but I don’t think I can bake well.  I sort of feel like baking is just like chocolate and butter and sugar and that is always nice, so I think anyone can bake, you can put those things together and it will come out alright.   The next level of that, I definitely can’t do.  I’ve not got the patience for decorating things, and making things even and tidy.  I really like stews, everything in a bowl boiled down right to its essence.

Who taught you – or perhaps you were self-taught?

I can tell you who didn’t teach me - I can tell you my mum did not teach me!  Everything I learnt, I learnt in spite of my mum!

How do you rate your chances after today’s first challenge?

I don’t see it as a competition - it’s so far out of my realm that I just have to believe that it is fate whoever wins, I could lose my life to baking.  The difference between a gooey brownie middle and a dry one, it’s like months of just making brownies and putting on eight stone and not seeing my kid!    Hannah is definitely the most competitive, she’s got to win.  I think John is probably the main competition, he’s just cool and done a lot and when you’ve won as many awards as he has, who’s going to get stressed about a brownie?  And Russell is a dark horse.  He’ll play the whole, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’, but actually he’ll know exactly what he’s doing!  He’ll pull it out of the bag, he has some sort of trick I’m sure.

What is your own personal signature dish?

Baking-wise, I’m disappointed not to have had the opportunity to do a Battenberg, because I think that is my ideal cake, it’s very square, regular and beige, it’s everything I stand for – an antiquated, beige, square slab!

Are you a Bake Off fan?

I like Bake Off yes I do. I find it quite tense to watch, because I think it’s one of those shows.  If I watch The X Factor, I know I’m never going to aspire to sing so I don’t mind if they’re good or bad, but when I watch Bake Off, because I aspire to be good at it, I find it easy to try and put myself in their position.  It’s quite tense to watch - although it’s pretty and summery.  I think ‘oh my God’ that’s what I would do, I’d forget that or drop that.

Who do you want to impress the most in the tent - Paul or Prue?

I’ll take what I can get in terms of praise, if anyone says anything nice to me, I’ll be their friend for life. I think I’ve watched Prue a lot longer going back to Great British Menu days and before that.  Paul is obviously the expert baker so if I get a compliment from Paul I’ll know I’ve cooked a good cake. I’d like Prue just to admire me in general.

In your life have you had any baking disasters?

I haven’t baked a lot for a long time, I think when I was younger I baked more, but I don’t remember any baking disasters.

What’s your strength in your baking?

The method and tidiness.  I appear calm, everything’s nice and clean, it’s not really very good for telly, as people like drama.  But no matter how disgusting whatever I serve, I will appear to be calm and collected and in control.

Are you more likely to get a Hollywood handshake, or a soggy bottom?

Soggy bottom, yes definitely, I’m not a big handshake man anyway to be honest, not one for physical contact, I’ll take a Hollywood nod.

Why are you supporting Stand Up To Cancer?

I think Stand Up To Cancer is a massive cause.  I lost my uncle and a friend of mine, Ellen (a friend from home)  this year.  For them - and for everyone I’ve lost to cancer, and for everyone who anyone has lost to cancer, I think there’s a lot of work still to be done, we’ve got to keep the foot to the pedal. 

Have you practised your bakes for today?

I’ve practised one batch of brownies and the fact they are still in my kitchen as we speak, un-eaten, suggests that practise didn’t go very well.  My child couldn’t have them as they had orange liqueur in them, although she was mad up for having them.  Luckily there was cake everywhere, it had just been my wife’s birthday and my birthday in the last few weeks, so we were well serviced by proper cake cooked by professionals! 

Have you practised your show stopper?

No.  I made four biscuits just to see whether they would hold up and I have to decide which I’m going to do. Which is not right, but in a different world I’d have practised more, but in a different world I wouldn’t have a child and other jobs.

Are you competitive? Do you want to be the star baker?

I am competitive in some things but I think you have to be aware that you’ve been booked as a comedian so I shall aim to be funny, by that I mean terrible, and if the bakes don’t turn out well I’d like it to be known that I did that on purpose to create maximum entertainment value.  If it turns out to be funny and they’re amazing and I get the apron, then I don’t have to buy a Christmas present for my sister, she would love the apron, she wants it big time.  She wants the apron more than me.

How do you feel about the technical? Are you good under pressure?

I’m good at following instructions.  Because I don’t eat a lot of sweets or puddings, I’m a bit worried it might be one of those things I’ve never heard of, but having looked at the other three I think we’re all roughly in the same boat.  It’s just if it happens to be something that one of the others likes and is good at - I’ve never made bread so I don’t know about yeast and raising and proving and all that.

Are you a traditionalist or do you like experimenting with food?

No, I’m a traditionalist, I’ve yet to experiment and for it to go well, so I’ve learnt to stay within my means. I’ll leave the experimenting to the experimentalists!

If you were a baked good what would you be?

I think I’d be a Battenberg, it’s square and beige like I am.  It would be nice to be a piece of toast.  Everyone likes a piece of toast don’t they? No one is ever sad when you offer them a piece of toast and if I could be that to someone, that would be nice.

Interview supplied by C4

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