One of our residents, Sue Lewis, came tantalisingly close to appearing on the The Great British Bake Off. Here’s her story.
Sue Lewis lives in one of our Aged Miners Homes in Lumley, near Chester-le-Street.
She only took up baking as a hobby around four years ago, but as you will see from the photographs on these pages, she produces some amazing creations.
Early this year, Sue’s son Ben, unbeknown to her, submitted an application online on her behalf for this year’s Bake Off.
Sue takes up the story: “I was horrified when I discovered my son had entered me but then I forgot about it thinking I wouldn’t hear anything, then one day, out of the blue, I got a call from one of the programme’s researchers.
“They said they liked my application, even though I hadn’t a clue what my son had put in it, and asked me questions like whether I could make choux pastry, hot water crusts and sourdough.
“They also gave me a quiz and I got eight out of the ten questions wrong, so at that stage I thought it wouldn’t go any further.
“But I was then asked if I would come to a venue in Manchester and bring two bakes, one sweet and one savoury. They said the bakes should show something about myself and my character.
“I wanted to do something different so for my sweet I did a lemon drizzle cake which looked like a joint of beef and for my savoury I did cheese flans, but with pineapple in them.
“What I wanted to show was that things can look very different than they taste.”
Sue says everyone was asked to put their bakes on the table and each was photographed. There was then an anxious wait while the judges looked at the photographs. Those that were considered worthy of going through to the next stage were then called to discuss their bakes with a panel of three judges.
She adds: “I was called in front of the panel and they told me they had never tasted anything so nice as my two bakes. I nearly fell off my chair.
“I then had to do the same interview but this time in front of the camera. This was so they could see how I performed with a camera on me, but even though I was little nervous I felt at ease and I forgot I was being filmed.”
After being filmed, Sue, along with the remaining bakers, was told to go home and wait for a call to see if she had made the final stages.
She says: “It was a good few weeks after but I received a call saying I had made the last 60. Then, they phoned me again to say I had just been pipped for the 12 places on the show but that I was effectively first reserve.
“The 12 who all made it onto the show had to go to London to do a technical challenge in front of the cameras and if anyone had failed at that stage, I would have been asked to come, so I came incredibly close to being on Bake Off.”
Amazingly, despite being within a hair’s breadth of being on one of Britain’s most popular television shows, Sue has no regrets.
She adds: “I am very proud of what I achieved and if I am being honest I was a little relieved to not make the final 12 because as you can see when you watch the programme, the bakers are under a lot of pressure.
“The producers have asked me to apply for the 2018 show. At the moment I don’t think I will. The experience was fantastic and I was so surprised to have reached as far as I did.
“The comments I received from the judging panel were amazing, but most of all, the fact that my sons thought I was good enough to enter, especially Ben who actually entered for me, was good enough for me. An experience I shall never forget.”