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Bake Off contestants ready for semi

The Great British Bake Off contestant Richard Burr has revealed that he only agreed to apply for the hit show because he had a hangover.

The builder and father-of-two has wowed judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry with his culinary creations and been crowned star baker four times during the BBC1 series.

Burr, who is competing in this week's semi-final, told Radio Times magazine: "I applied for the show on New Year's Day. I'd made all the cakes for Christmas, plus a Christmas pudding, a big gingerbread house and all the trimmings.

"My wife Sarah said I should do it, and because I had such a hangover on New Year's Day I agreed for a bit of peace and quiet.

"I left Sarah to do the writing. Next thing I knew I had the production company phoning me up."

Despite filming in bucolic surroundings, Burr, who is always seen baking with a pencil behind his ear, said that the Bake Off tent was not very different to his usually workplace.

He said: "The tent felt familiar with all the cameramen and crew hanging around. It was like being on site surrounded by tradesmen, only a bit cleaner and with less swearing."

He added: "I hope we've turned over some stereotypes. Builders aren't particularly known for their cooking abilities, but I think more fellas should bake. Bread's easy, it's only four ingredients, and even if you make it badly people are appreciative."

He said of his future: "Being self-employed with an established business is great, but having been stretched so much by the Bake Off process I'd hate to just go back to baking birthday cakes."

Meanwhile, Chetna Makan, who also remains in the competition, said that she found it strange that people watch her shopping since she appeared on the show.

And Nancy Birtwhistle, who has also survived the show so far, said that she felt protective of fellow contestant Martha Collison - the 17-year-old who was booted out last week - and hinted that she thought she was too young for some of the criticism.

"I can remember one time when Martha was really wobbling, and I just wanted to remove her from it. She's incredibly strong and confident, but she was only 17. I have years of thick skin, and was prepared to give as much back if I didn't think criticism was warranted. But she was too young for that," she said.

Judge Hollywood said that this year's contestants looked after each other more than in previous series and will be seen doing so "even in the final".

Fellow remaining contestant Luis Troyano, who revealed he would go to bed at 3am in the morning on some nights after practising a bake, added: "I found that we weren't up against each other. We were up against the judges. I'd try to help people out all the time. I'd offer to help, and before I knew it there'd be someone from production telling me to go away."

Judge Berry said of the influence of the BBC1 show: "I was passing the dust cart in Beaconsfield. A big burly chap leant out of the side of it and said, 'Hello Mary! I'm baking!' I thought, 'You've just emptied my bins.' Of all the people you don't expect to bake..."

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