Paul Hollywood saying that he winds up Prue Leith
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Dame Prue Leith, 81, says it was “absolutely awful” when she accidentally revealed Sophie Faldo had won The Great British Bake Off in 2017, hours before the show was broadcast. The GBBO judge was on holiday in Bhutan at the time and became confused by the time difference.
The restaurateur took to Twitter to congratulate the winner, saying: “No one told me judging a GBBO final would be so emotional. I wanted them all to win. Bravo Sophie.”
Now, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs almost five years later, she said the incident “was absolutely awful”.
She explained to presenter Lauren Laverne: “I was having a siesta in Bhutan and I picked up my phone and I saw a message from the production company who said, ‘Don’t forget to congratulate the winner after 10pm’.
“I looked at my watch and quickly tweeted, ‘Bravo Sophie’.
“Then, a text came whizzing in from [food critic] Emma Freud which just said, ‘Eek eek it’s tonight delete delete’.
“By then I was panicking so much I didn’t know which button to press so I rang my secretary, which I do in every moment of panic, and she said, ‘Don’t worry I’ve deleted it’.”
Prue’s secretary had deleted the tweet a mere 89 seconds after it went out, but it was too late, and it had already gone viral.
When asked how she dealt with the aftermath, Prue said she “felt so terrible”.
However, there was a silver lining, and the incident prompted a phone call from the Bhutanese Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay.
The chef continued: “What’s interesting is the Prime Minister of Bhutan rang me up and he was very nice. He said, ‘You mustn’t worry… it just means that you were thinking about your colleagues’.”
Prue then asked the Prime Minister why “he was wasting his time” talking about Bake Off when he had a country to run. To which he replied: “Prue, you have put Bhutan on the map!”
The faux pas was at the end of Prue’s first series when she replaced Dame Mary Berry on the baking show when it moved to Channel 4.
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However, she says that she had never seen the show before so didn’t really know what to expect.
She explained: “I didn’t watch it, I had heard of it and I knew Mary Berry had decided not to go to Channel 4.
“So, it did occur to me I would quite like that job, and then I dismissed it thinking they wouldn’t want another old lady.”
When she did land the job, Prue went to none other than her predecessor Mary for advice, particularly how she should handle fellow judge Paul Hollywood.
Prue laughed: “I asked [Mary] what Paul Hollywood was like, she said, ‘He’s very strong, you have to hold your own.
“’He is very articulate and if you don’t jump in, he would have said it all’.”
Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 on Sundays at 11am.
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