It’s Bake Off time of year – and it couldn’t be busier for last year’s contenders Andrew Smyth, Selasi Gbormittah, Candice Brown and the rest of the 2016 crew. Because while they’re not directly involved in the show, the tight-knit group of contestants are still the best of friends in real life – and as the show starts, the WhatsApp messages get going!
Andrew, who faced off against Candice and Jane in the finals last year, reveals that the entire cast of last year’s Bake Off are constantly communicating with each other, and love nothing better than a quick deconstruction of this year’s efforts too. “We talk constantly,” Andrew told HELLO! at Monday night’s Leading Ladies album launch, which saw Beverley Knight, Cassidy Janson and Glee’s Amber Riley taking to the stage at the Savoy Hotel. “We’re on WhatsApp all through the show, but it’s not just then. We are literally in touch with each other every day. And it’s everyone, not just one or two of us.”
So far, the Bake Off buddies are pleased with the new series which this year moved from the BBC to Channel 4. Admitting that Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc were a “tough act to follow” the TV favourite insisted he thought 2017’s hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding were doing a great job.
He also revealed that Bake Off baddie Paul Hollywood is actually a big softie when the cameras aren’t rolling. “Behind the scenes, if you’d had a bad time, he was the first to come up and make sure you were OK. He’d work through with you what had gone wrong, make sure you wouldn’t make the same mistake,” Andrew said.
And while watching every episode is a must for all 12 of the 2016 Bake Off alumni, the red-haired contestant admitted his empathy for the current contestants makes it a slightly painful process. “You just feel for them, you know the pressure they’re under,” he said. “One of them didn’t put the oven on the other day and I knew exactly how they felt because I did the same. It’s so pressured you do things you’d never do in real life.”