‘The Bake Off beefcake with the best buns in the business’: Sex, pies and Paul Hollywood

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    As one of the judges on the hugely successful BBC series The Great British Bake Off (2010–), Paul Hollywood has become a food icon in the United Kingdom. Like other celebrity chefs, he has augmented an appreciation for careful food preparation and enhanced taste experiences, resisting the widespread consumer desire for easily accessible convenience food. This article explores Hollywood’s persona and the extent to which personality attributions associated with a ‘Northern’ identity paradigm are an intrinsic part of his appeal. I argue that Hollywood is selling more than cakes, pies, pastries and fancy bread through his various endeavours both on-and off-screen: he is selling an idea of the North as a place which values hard work, frugality and resourcefulness. For all the posturing about ‘food porn’ in the press, Hollywood’s work often celebrates the simplicity of comfort food, or the staples that define the routines of home cooking where repetition and familiarity are key aspects of the experience. Despite his success in the United Kingdom, Hollywood failed to emulate that success in the United States when he co-hosted The American Baking Competition (2013). This begs the question: what is it about a television star like Hollywood that makes his commodity value appeal and resonate in one market but ultimately sink without trace in the international market? Might we consider Hollywood as a case study in the limits of the transnational celebrity?
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)253-266
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Popular Television
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


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