Paul Hollywood has opened up about the impact of fame on his personal life, admitting he now finds it difficult to trust other people.
The Great British Bake Off star is the only member of the current cast to have appeared in every series, as well as crossing the pond to judge various American versions of the show.
As a result of this, he’s arguably become Bake Off’s most recognisable figure, though he has admitted this has come with its setbacks.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Times (£), Paul admitted he had issues with paparazzi photographers coming to his home – even during lockdown.
“The paps didn’t care about the rules – they still came to my house,” he said. “They waited on the drive till I took the bins out and then it was, ‘Oi, Hollywood, you c***!’ or, ‘You Scouse t***!’. They need you to look up. What they really want is to get the angry shot. Well, I wouldn’t give it to them.
“And one time I caught the abuse on my doorbell camera and gave it to the police. They told the photographer if he came back he’d be arrested.”
When Bake Off made the jump from the BBC to Channel 4, Paul was famously the only member of the on-screen team to stay with the show, with reports in the press claiming his salary had been bumped up as a result of the move.
“I was called every name under the sun,” he recalled of that period. “It was so horrendous, I actually cried. No one wants to be painted as the pantomime villain, especially when I was just sticking with a job I loved. But you can’t kick against it.
“David Walliams actually took me aside and said, ‘Mate, it’s just a game. Enjoy it.’ You’re clickbait, basically. But it hurt me. After a while, though, I got tough. I just thought, ‘OK, I’ll be your bad guy’.”
On how fame has affected him, he continued: “I don’t trust people anymore. I’m really wary of who gets close and I never used to be like that. In fact, I’m a hermit, whereas I used to be the life and soul of the party.
“I was always first down the bowling alley. But now quite often someone suggests going out and I’ll say, ‘Yeah, I’ll be there,’ and I don’t go.”
Paul added: “There is no school that tells you how to deal with being in the public eye. And however much you think you’re not going to change, it’s impossible to stay the same. I defy anyone to do it.”
Earlier this year, Paul was back in action with his fellow judge Prue Leith for the latest edition of the celebrity version of Bake Off.
Read Paul Hollywood’s full interview in The Times (£) here.