Can Yorkshire score Great british Bake Off hat-trick?

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A win for hotly-tipped Nadiya will make it three Yorkshire wins in just six series of The Great British Bake Off.

Tonight, millions will tune in to the final of The Great British Bake Off – and Leeds mum-of-three Nadiya Jamir Hussain is the hot favourite to take the honours.

With bookmakers offering bets of 2-5 on a Nadiya victory compared to 4-1 and 5-1 for fellow finalists Ian Cumming and Tamal Ray, she has all the signs of a nailed-on winner.

And if Nadiya does manage to impress judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry enough to take the title she will be the third Yorkshire winner of the popular series in just six series – an amazing hit rate for the county.

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The 30-year-old’s facial expressions have been a highlight among Bake Off fans, even inspiring an homage on social network site Tumblr called The Many Faces Of Nadiya Appreciation Blog.

Nadiya admitted to a lack of confidence before she went on the show, with her husband and sister-in-law persuading her to apply.

“My family are constantly telling me that they are very proud of me, and that really helps me through,” she said.

“My dad has loved the series and he goes up and down the street each Wednesday making sure everyone is going to watch it.

“He did run a restaurant for years so he knows what he is talking about, and I value his comments each week – although I have never asked him for advice because I wanted to do it my way and in my own style.”

Victory tomorrow night would undoubtedly change Nadiya’s life – just as it has for the previous Yorkshire winners.

Five years ago, Edd Kimber was working as a debt collector for Yorkshire Bank in Leeds. Then his friends spotted an advert for a brand new BBC baking competition and persuaded him, as a keen amateur cook, to chance his arm.

That programme was The Great British Bake Off and it quickly became a smash hit. Yet Edd, who ended up winning that first series, admits he never saw it coming.

“As contestants we knew it was going to be on BBC2 and I think we all assumed it would be this little daytime show that did ok,” he recalled.

“The only thing we could compare it to was Masterchef, but I don’t think anyone thought it would even replicate that kind of success.

“It certainly didn’t feel as polished as it does now, but we got around four million viewers which I remember seemed amazing for something that was so untested. It’s crazy to think it now gets three times that number.”

The show proved the passport to a new career in cooking.

“I always say that whatever I could have wanted to change about my life back then, Bake Off changed it in the most amazing way,” he said. “It allowed me to follow my passion and fulfil my dreams in a way I never imagined.

“I’ve written three cookbooks, two of them have been published in America. I ran a pop-up bakery in Fortnum & Mason, they allowed me to take over the kitchenware department and turn it into a bakery for a few weeks.

“The thought of this boy from West Yorkshire being given an opportunity like that is just unbelievable.

“ITV chose me to be the resident baker on the final series of The Alan Titchmarsh Show and I’m currently writing recipes for a magazine. Every day is different, but every day is about food. It’s all I ever wanted.”

Success on the show was just as life-changing for Nancy Birtwhistle, crowned champion at the end of last year’s series.

The former GP surgery manager from Hull has her own website and is in demand for everything from cookery demonstrations to after-dinner speaking.

Edd and Nancy’s achievement in winning the competition – with Nadiya looking set to follow in their footsteps – is even more impressive given the gruelling schedule that goes hand in hand with a place in the series.

Filming takes place over the course of a weekend, with contestants getting up at 5.30am to be in the famous Bake Off marquee for 6.15am, with the cameras rolling from 9.30am.

Even those who find themselves eliminated in week one have submitted, and practised, nine weeks’ worth of recipes.

Those who are lucky enough to survive go straight into working on their recipes for the following week.

Mobile phones must be handed in on a Friday night and there is a strict policy of no texting, taking of photographs or talking about the show with anyone beyond the four walls of your own home. Contestants liken it to leading a double life.

“It’s quite surreal to be in that tent with producers rushing around and the cameras in your face,” said Edd. “But if you remember why you’re there you enjoy the process more.

“It’s easy to feel stress about being on camera and what you are saying, but if you concentrate on the baking you will relax and do better as a result.”

He reckons that the nature of the competition – and those taking part – has changed since his win five years ago.

“I’m not the sort of person who has ever wanted to be famous, I just did it because I loved baking and thought it would be fun.

“People who go on the show now seem to have more of an idea of how to turn it into a media career.

“We were perhaps a bit more innocent back then.”

However, the reward that awaits Nadiya if she becomes Yorkshire’s latest Bake Off champion is just the same as it has always been – the chance to pursue a professional career in baking.

“You can’t be luckier than doing what you love doing every day,” said Edd. “Very few people get that opportunity, so I feel extremely fortunate. And it’s all thanks to Bake Off.”

The Great British Bake Off Final is on Wednesday at 8pm on BBC1.

Joanne Mjadzelics

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