29/09/2015 04:30 BST | Updated 28/09/2016 06:12 BST

'Great British Bake Off' Star Nadiya Hussain: 'I'm Just As British As Anyone Else'

'Great British Bake Off' semi-finalist Nadiya Jamir Hussain has opened up about her fears over how the British public would see her, praising British society for its "tolerance" and accepting nature.

"Originally, I was a bit nervous that people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake. But I hope that week by week people have realised that I can bake - and just because I'm not a stereotypical British person, it doesn't mean that I am not into bunting, cake and tea," she said.

Nadiya has been a huge hit with 'Bake Off' fans

"I'm just as British as anyone else, and I hope I have proved that. The feedback I have had reveals how accepting people are of different cultures and religions. Now people know who I am, I can see how tolerant and accepting British society is."

The stay-at-home mum, who is studying for an Open University degree, lives in Leeds. She told the Radio Times: "My family is from Bangladesh, and we don't really have desserts in our culture. If there are sweet things to eat, they are eaten as a snack beforehand. But once I started to make desserts, crumbles and pies at home, it caught on. Now my family always expect one!"

The 30-year-old's facial expressions have been a highlight of this series among Bake Off fans, inspiring a tumblr called "The Many Faces of Nadiya Appreciation Blog", which aims to celebrate the contestant's "many and varied facial expressions".

"I think I have the sort of face that always looks really nervous," she said. 

Fellow semi-finalist Tamal Ray, 28, has become known as a Bake Off heartthrob - and revealed he is currently single. "I wouldn't have a girlfriend, I would have a boyfriend," he added. 

The medic, who is a senior house officer in intensive care at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, admitted he "became quite superstitious" during filming: "Firstly, I had to have sushi on the way to each episode. There were two weeks when I did really badly, and those were the weeks when I didn't have sushi, so from then on it was a must. I wore my lucky socks, too," he explained.

"I'm a Hindu, and I prayed quite a lot. I usually pray for other people, I don't normally ask for things, but that changed. I suppose there is a God of Food, but I didn't pray to him. I just prayed in a general sense and sent it out there."

Ian Cumming, 42, had a winning streak at the beginning of the series, being awarded "star baker" three times in a row. He said he was "genuinely surprised" to win week two. "I didn't feel good about my chances at all. Then when I got star baker three times, everyone thought I was super confident, but I'm not. I'm surprised at my progress, to be honest."

Nineteen-year-old Flora Shedden attracted some criticism after the first episode, when she revealed she was more used to using an Aga than an oven - leading to accusations on social media that she was "too posh".

"When people find out about the Aga, they think I'm very posh," Flora admitted. "My sister Hebe, who's 18, suggested that I should remind them we have a Skoda and four brown hens, not a Range Rover and four brown ponies."

The Scottish teen, who has just started a degree in art history at the University of St Andrews, added: "At St Andrews I have a fantastic kitchen, so I can still bake and cook. There was a lot of baking during Freshers' Week! It's a great way to make yourself more popular very quickly."

The semi-final of the 'Great British Bake Off' airs on Wednesday, September 30 at 8pm on BBC One.

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