To millions of #Television viewers he is one of the essential ingredients to the immensely popular baking show The Great British Bake Off, but Paul John Hollywood wasn't always destined to be lining up alongside the typically British Mary Berry on the hit BBC show. He recently took part in Radio 4's Desert Island Discs and imparted to the show's presenter Kirsty Young that his original ambition had been to become an artist.
Indeed, he was only persuaded to drop the brush for the mixing bowl by his father, who went as far as to offer him the princely sum of £500 to become a baker and to not complete his studies.
49-year-old Hollywood told Young that he had "quite enjoyed art, sculpture and all that stuff," and did an O-level in sculpture. His father had different ideas for his son though and the lure of the cash in the eighties (which was a tidy amount in those days, especially for a student) proved too much to resist. He fondly remembered his father suggesting that he "join the industry" instead of continuing his art studies.
With an army of devoted fans behind the BAFTA award-winning show nowadays, as members of the public attempt to impress the two seasoned judges, Hollywood and Berry with their culinary expertise, The Great British Bake Off has become a staple diet on our TV screens.
So much so that the audience figures for the Bake Off's final last autumn surpassed those for the BBC's coverage of the World Cup football final in the summer. That from a country that holds up football as its national sport is indeed a fillip for the well-liked programme, although it may of course have been slightly different if England had still been involved in the competition at that stage, whereas in reality many fans had become disenchanted with the matches long before the final whistle. There was only a wafer in it though, with the football drawing 12.1 million viewers compared to Nancy Birtwhistle's progress to become the GBBO champion seeing some 12.3 million people tune in, although it was estimated that the peak figure during the screening was around 13.3 million. #Celebrities