Great British Bake Off contestant James Hillery from Brentwood speaks of his time on the show

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 October 2017

Great British Bake Off 8 - 2017: - Baker James.

Great British Bake Off 8 - 2017: - Baker James.

© Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions/Channel4 (Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way) CHANNEL 4 PICTURE

Cake-lovers have been glued to their screens every Tuesday night for the past few weeks, as everyone’s favourite family show, The Great British Bake Off has made its comeback.

James Hillery and presenter Noel Fielding sharing a joke in the tent. Picture: Love ProductionsJames Hillery and presenter Noel Fielding sharing a joke in the tent. Picture: Love Productions

Despite channel swapping, it still has us hooked with soggy bottoms, “grainy” caramel and far too many Paul Hollywood handshakes to remember.

With fewer people being invited into the tent than there have been astronauts in space, 46-year-old amateur baker James Hillery from Brentwood, is proud to say that he has been among the lucky ones.

He said: “It is a huge honour to get into the show, and to get half way through the series was such a privilege it will stay with me the rest of my life.

“You have the pressure of environment and everyone has their ups and downs but the camaraderie was really great and friendships have been built.”

James Hillery sharing his method with Prue, Paul and Sandi. Picture: Love ProductionsJames Hillery sharing his method with Prue, Paul and Sandi. Picture: Love Productions

Banker James learned how to bake from his dad Brian more than 40 years ago and has loved making treats for his friends and family ever since and often tests his delicious creations on his “unsuspecting guinea pigs” at work.

He’s now keen to pass on the family knowledge he got from his own dad onto his sons Oliver and Ethan who he’s teaching how to bake.

He said: “My dad has always been so humble and says ‘you are miles better than me as a baker’, but I always tell him that he gave me the passion for baking from an early age.

“He is so proud, he is like a peacock at the moment at his bowls club, and my mum is secretly pleased at her coffee mornings.

“Like me and my father I now teach my two sons how to bake, and of course they get so excited seeing themselves on telly.

“My son’s food technology teacher commented that she is loving the show and for a dad to hear that back makes me feel really proud of what I have achieved.”

It was pudding week on Great British Bake Off on Tuesday where the eight remaining contestants had to impress the judges with their steam puddings, a chocolate fondant with a peanut butter melting middle and a showstopping trifle terrine.

Unfortunately for James, he was the fifth contestant to leave the show after Paul Hollywood and new judge Prue Leith condemned his trifle terrine as “sickly”.

At the end of the episode, when it was revealed James was the next to leave the tent, Prue said: “We will really miss James in the tent.

“Julia was really sobbing her eyes out and who was comforting her? James - that’s typical of James, he is just such a nice guy.”

James added: “My time has come, it’s gutting.

“I wanted to do this to put myself against other really good bakers to see how good I was.

“To be part of that has been really humbling.”

When he’s not banking in Canary Wharf, James loves to walk his dog and to spend his free time in the fresh air at his allotment, growing fruit and vegetables to incorporate into his bakes.

After leaving the show, he says he intends to stay at his city job but would like nothing more than to pursue his baking passion.

“Bake Off was good at stretching me into areas I hadn’t gone to previously - I think I was stuck in a baking rut before.

“I now want to go on a baking tour round Essex to meet all the artisan bakers, and learn from them.

“I want to continue baking, and would love at some stage to do some teaching at my son’s food technology class – if they will have me!”

The Great British Bake Off is on every Tuesday night at 8pm on Channel 4.

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