Festive Great British Bake Off star Paul Hollywood reveals the 12 things that really make his Christmas including dressing up as Santa!

Paul Hollywood The Great Festive Bake Off
(Image credit: Charlotte Medlicott)

Christmas is a busy time for Paul Hollywood as he bakes lots of tasty seasonal treats. We quizzed the Bake Off judge to find out what - aside from Mince Pies - he really loves about the festive season…

Ahead of two festive specials of The Great British Bake Off, judge Paul Hollywood reveals the 12 things that really make his Christmas…

1. Playing Santa…

Paul Hollywood: "I’d say Christmas is a kids’ thing but I’m still a big kid really, so I love it. I enjoy dressing up as Father Christmas; I used to do it for my son Josh when he was really young but, occasionally, I’ll put the suit on now just for a laugh. I wear it with big boots with fur-lined tops and bells that jingle as I walk."

2. Anyone for a mince pie?

PH: "My duty of making mince pies usually starts at the beginning of December, when the first door of advent is opened. I like to add apples and tangerines to the mixture, then when people come around they’ll have a warm mince pie with a dollop of cream. Delicious!"

3. A good Christmas pud!

PH: "I used to make Christmas puddings a lot when I worked as a baker in hotels. I’d make them in the January for that year’s Christmas, so that they had time to rest, ferment and mature. I don’t like too much alcohol in a Christmas pud as I think it ruins it. Putting alcohol on top afterwards is fine – because then you set light to it and burn it all off!"

4. T’was the night before Christmas…

PH: "On Christmas Eve, we’ll relax as a family with a Christmassy movie like The Polar Express or A Christmas Carol. That really gets us excited about Christmas. We might drink champagne and eat some cheese and biscuits. But everyone knows Christmas Day is the big day for food."

5. What’s on the box?

PH: "At Christmas, I love watching the old shows like The Two Ronnies and Morecambe & Wise. We also watch many of today’s big shows like Doctor Who and we’ll tune in for The Queen’s Speech. When my nan was alive, she insisted that we all stood up when The Queen appeared!"

When is the Doctor Who Christmas Special on?

6. The perfect Christmas…

PH: "I love waking up and watching all the kids in the family open their presents, while Christmas carols are playing. The tree lights will be on and I love the smell of a real tree. Then, around lunchtime, I’ll pop to the village pub for a few beers, then we’ll go back and have lunch. In the evening, the whole family plays charades."

7. A Christmas feast…

PH: "I don’t cook Christmas lunch mainly because all the females in the household take over the kitchen on Christmas Day. I will carve the turkey, however, and I’m the designated washer-upper! We have about 15 people around for Christmas lunch, so the amount of washing up afterwards is horrendous. It takes me about three hours – there aren’t enough tea towels in the whole of Britain that can dry everything up!"

8. Christmases of yesteryear…

PH: "I’ve got a recording of me at my nan’s one Christmas and I’m really made up because I find a handkerchief with my initials on it and a tangerine in my stocking! My mum wasn’t wealthy; we were just an ordinary working class family but she really thought about presents. So those things meant a lot."

9. Going crackers…

PH: "I MUST win a prize from a Christmas cracker. I like a good cracker with a good snap and I don’t mind some of the naff toys inside them. I’ve still got a little tape measure from last year and it’s really useful. And I make a rule that everyone has to wear a paper hat."

10. Christmas Bake Off!

PH: "Filming this year’s two Christmas Bake Offs was hilarious. Myself, fellow judge Prue Leith and hosts Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig have filmed some really funny sketches and we’re all dressed up in festive gear. There’s snow, carols, some great challenges and some very popular bakers from previous series will be coming back, so you can guarantee some delicious festive bakes. Both specials are very Christmassy."

11. Memorable gifts…

PH: "My favourite Christmas present as a kid was a purple Raleigh Chopper bike, with the gears in the middle. It’s the most iconic bike of the 70s and I loved it. My passion for cars started when I was given a James Bond Aston DB5 toy car with an ejector seat. I now collect 1:18 scale models of Aston Martins and I’ve asked for one I need to complete my current set."

12. Let it snow…

PH: "The day after boxing day, I usually go skiing. Even if we just visit a snow centre in England, I must have snow somewhere between Christmas and New Year. So myself and loads of other families will all go away skiing."

The Great Christmas Bake Off is on Christmas Day at 7.40pm on C4. The Great Festive Bake Off is on New Year's Day at 7.40pm on C4.

Victoria Wilson
Feature Writer for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and WhatToWatch.com

With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!