Borough Belles on Telly!

Back in March, three Belles volunteered to take part in a special episode of Great British Bake Off Extra Slice that was being filmed as the culmination of the celebrity 4-parter of Great British Bake Off in celebration of Comic Relief 2015. Well that’s what it turned out to be anyway once having volunteered ‘to be in the audience’ of the filming and myself only a member of the Belles for a couple of months, we had no real idea what we were letting ourselves in for!So some Belles had taken part last year in a Bake Off Extra Slice filming and perhaps they knew what was coming because I was surprised when only three Belles were on the address list of the email that came round, myself, Amy and Christy. One of the tv production crew got in touch over the phone asking us to think about what we’d be baking for the programme (and I thought I’d just be sitting there laughing and clapping!)  with the ‘make your face funny for money’ Red Nose Day theme in mind. Now most of my personal baking experience has been with the aim of inserting ever more exotic vegetables into baked goods in order to use up the contents of our veg box at home and to make cake seem like a health food. This didn’t seem like the kind of bake that would have ’em rolling in the aisles. For some reason I decided to tell the TV guy that I’d make a pair of wearable glasses in the style of Dame Edna out of pretzel, gingerbread and royal icing coloured with beetroot… I’d never made any of these things in my life! I only later found out that Dame Edna was part of the Bake Off celebrity contingent – what a coincidence!!! Well I suppose on the crazy glasses front there are few examples – it was either going to be Dame Edna or Elton John. At least we had a week to practice. Several iterations down the line and a hilarious moment of photo-taking of the best one whereby I was lying on my kitchen floor balancing the glasses on my face because my partner Iain said ‘nobody would ever know that I wasn’t standing up’, I had a sort-of viable pair of edible glasses.


Amy, Christy and I shared some panicky text messages on the morning of the filming – would we be ready in time? Would we make it across town/on the bus without cake disaster befalling us etc. etc. Meanwhile we each got a sense of real Bake Off performance anxiety and Iain wielded power tools as a last-ditch attempt to find a way to help me rescue the arms of the glasses. I can now confirm that slightly over-baked Paul Hollywood recipe orange and poppy seed pretzel can indeed be drilled into with a Black & Decker should the need arise.

The three of us made it to the studios on London’s South Bank with our precious cargoes and were happy to hand them off to the production team with a sign of relief. Amy revealed a fabulous Luscious Lumley Cake dedicated to Joanna Lumley who appeared on the show and Christy had made Jo Brand the show’s presenter and one of her personal heroes in the style of a Red Nose and really got a good likeness.
All the invited bakers had sneaky peeks at each other’s creations and there were some really professional ones; cupcakes decorated with the Bake Off presenter’s faces, moustache-shaped biscuits you could hold up on sticks, Paul Hollywood’s beard in bread and even a massive ring doughnut hoopla game!
After watching top-secret highlights of the four celebrity Bake Off shows so we could make sense of the filming, the Production crew told us where to sit on the set. Turns out I was to be sitting in ‘Position 1’ and to be fitted with a microphone as was Amy. Cue gigantic internal panic. The set was really great to see close up as was the process of filming a show. We were lucky that not only Frank Skinner and previous Bake Off contestant Howard Middleton were in the panel, the Queen of Baking herself, Mary Berry was also in attendance. The celeb winners Jennifer Saunders, Gok Wan, Victoria Wood and Michael Sheen had all donated their time for charity to be on the shows and seemed like they loved doing it. Jo Brand was as dryly funny yet warm as she was off camera as on it and despite the long process, it was a fun thing to be a part of.
IMG_2414 amy
When the ‘celebs had done their bit and after spending the entire recording sitting bolt upright due to the microphone shoved down the back of my dress, quietly sweating away and praying nobody would talk to me, the moment came… time to speak to bakers in the audience that had made something for the show. Eeeeeekkk!!! The crew filmed lots of the bakers including Mary Berry, yes, MARY BERRY, tasting our Amy’s Luscious Lumley cake and saying that she liked it – massive kudos to Amy for that! Howard got to try on my Dame Edna glasses and I hadn’t a clue what happened, just heard the gasp from the audience as I was flapping around behind him. The results of this humorously made the final edit of the show for all to see though sadly Amy’s Berry endorsement did not …
Watch the clip HERE
What an experience – a taste of real Bake Off panic, behind the scenes telly magic, grand master Berry’s endorsement of Amy’s baking skills, 41 seconds of fame for my wearable baking (keep an eye on the high street, I’m sure it’s going to be a big thing in 2015), but actually best of all were the tears of laughter I cried whilst trying to balance the damn things on my face to prove they actually worked – isn’t it an amazing thing when that happens, all too rare. Comic Relief indeed.