Tom Allen on why he loves cooking up a comedy storm on C4’s The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice and the horrible time he had to eat a chocolate tart with bacon in it!
The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice is proving just what the nation needs to cheer us up in challenging times. Along with celebrity guests and a chat with each week’s departing baker from the main show, the C4 spin-off, hosted by Jo Brand and Tom Allen, also gives a wry look at photos of viewers’ bakes as well as the offerings of brave audience members.
Here, Tom Allen tells us why he’s so proud to be part of The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice and why chocolate and bacon don't mix!
What have you loved about presenting Bake Off: An Extra Slice this time?
Tom Allen: “It’s a great group of bakers and we’re crying out for cake-based distraction. An Extra Slice has had a real surge in viewers, which we're thrilled about. We’re just talking about people in a baking competition but it’s a warm, fun, silly, uplifting end to the week when people are under so much pressure at the moment.”
How have you found the changes in the studio due to social distancing on Bake Off: An Extra Slice?
TA: “I prefer it! The first week was strange with everybody spaced out around the desk and me talking to the audience with my two-metre-long whisk! But everybody's relaxed now and it hopefully feels like you’re eavesdropping on a little party.”
Because of the pandemic, you’re not getting to taste the bakes the audience bring in. Are you disappointed?!
TA: “No! Sometimes people do experimental baking. A woman a few years ago brought in a chocolate tart with bacon in and it was disgusting. Although another lady made a pink cake with sweetcorn in. It looked like Mr Blobby had melted but it was delicious.”
Do you enjoy meeting the departing bakers?
TA: “Yes, I get starstruck! This year, I’ve felt really sad when they've gone and every one who has come on has been a brilliant character. I loved Rowan – I called him my dad! And I liked Sura. Everybody felt for her when she knocked over Dave’s cakes. But she’s such a laugh.”
It’s 80s week in the tent, how do you want to mark that on An Extra Slice?
TA: “I hope we learn about Paul and Prue Leith’s 80s hair cuts. Did Paul have a mullet? I hope so. And I reckon Prue had a huge bubble perm – big power hair!”
What’s next for you?
TA: “I've got my book, No Shame, out on 12 November – not that I’ve got anything salacious to share! I talk about when I was an awkward teenager dressing up in Victorian clothing and how I threw an elaborate dinner party when I was 15 to persuade somebody to go out with me but he wasn't gay! If anyone has ever felt like an outsider, I hope it makes them feel reassured that they're not the only one. We're all a bit weird sometimes!”
The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice continues on Friday at 8pm on C4
Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.
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