INTERVIEW: Great British Bake Off 2012 Winner, John Whaite

ImageLife changed in an instant when a staggering 6.5 million Great British Bake Off fans saw relative underdog John Whaite rise to the top and romp to victory on the baking series.

In just nine months the former law student released his first cookbook, moved to London with his partner and is now a regular on daytime TV.

And now the baking sensation is on his way back up North and he couldn’t be happier.

“Moving to London was a big thing for me because I’m such a soft mummy’s boy,” says the 23-year-old from Wrightington, “When I was up there last I didn’t want to go back to London.

“That’s what I miss most about home – my family.”

John is returning to his Lancastrian roots for a special afternoon tea event at Clitheroe’s Brownsholme Hall on July 25, in an event organised by Kirkham’s SilverDell Bookshop, and it appears he has more in common with the town that his fans my have first thought.

“My family used to live in Clitheroe,” he reveals, “When my mum got pregnant with me we moved, so I was created in Clitheroe shall we say.”

No sooner had the final of the baking show aired on television, John was inundated with job offers but it was the offer to write his first cookbook that caught his eye.

“I always knew I would write a book,” he says, “whether it be a baking book or a novel so the writing part of the job I really enjoy.

“I was surprised at how well the first book was received, I didn’t know if people would believe in me as a baker so I was surprised it was successful.

“What I did find difficult was trying to create a diverse range of bakes that would appeal in one book.

“My publisher had to say to me ‘John you’ve repeated rose too much’ or ‘you’ve got too much white chocolate in there’ so it was trying to get a range of baking that was difficult for me.”

And now John is in the process of writing his second publication.

“I’m excited to write my second book because I know where to improve but then at the same time trying to think of the recipes is quite tricky.

“The first one was based on home baking but this one is going to be more baking at home in terms of baking with kids, baking for breakfast, baking for brunch, what you could do if you were with your mates.

“ I think, it’s a more accessible book, whereas the first one was categorized by mood – some people loved it, some people didn’t really get it – so I’m going to make the second one a bit more conventional.”

The popularity of shows such as the Great British Bake Off has ignited the nation’s passion for all things baked and now John is enjoying passing on his skills to the Great British public both in his adopted town of Greenwich in London and across the country. The cover of John Whaite's first book

“I love doing the classes, “ he says, “I was quite nervous with the first one but I ended up really enjoying it and the people there seemed to too.

“We get a range of people from those who can, say, do the brioche already and a really quite good to people who haven’t done all that much.

“What I do find is that people tend to be on the same wavelength, they all have a keen interest in baking and so it all works well for them.

“And I always give them a glass of bubbly to get the mood flowing so we have a bit of a laugh and a giggle.”

“People buying shop-bought cakes has definitely gone down and I think that’s because people are making their own things.

“You know what’s going into the bakes and you can make smaller quantities so you don’t have a big piece of cake leftover waiting to be eaten, you can just make small muffins and freeze them so you don’t end up indulging too much.”

And when it comes to choosing his own favourites, John will always prefer the taste of home cooking.

“It’s about the flavour for me,” he says, “ I’m not into this arty-farty decorated cakes and plates – I can’t do that – I just want something to taste bloody good.”

So what advice does John have for the pretenders to his GBBO throne?

“For those taking part in Bake Off this year I would just say be yourself but also remember to make sure you treat people with respect. Everything you do will be scrutinised so make sure you speak to people correctly and don’t bitch about people – be grateful about the exposure you get. My mum always said to me, don’t burn any bridges- always leave on a positive whenever you leave a situation.”

Details onJohn’s classes at http://www.johnwhaite.com

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INTERVIEW: Eddie Halliewell

Eddie Halliwell

“There’s nothing like experiencing a festival with your friends and family,” says Wigan DJ, Eddie Halliwell.

And with the Creamfields festival just 30 minutes away from his home in Upholland, the 32-year-old says it is one of his favourite festivals to play.

“When you’re playing in places like Brazil you can’t experience it with friends and family because it’s so far away so festivals like Creamfields and my residencies in Ibiza are great because you have friends there every week.

“For me to be able to do what I do and have your pals come over to the clubs you’re playing it’s amazing.”

Eddie, who lives with his girlfriend Helen, has played at the dance festival, held on August Bank Holiday, for the past seven years and says he enjoys trying to mix things up year on year

“I remember when I very first started at Creamfields and we played the main arena and another arena to express two different musical sides so from that point I’ve tried to vary my set times, playing later or playing earlier,” he says,  “there have been a couple of years we’ve done a couple of special projects such as Edit so we’re always mixing it up and making it different.”

Alongside his residency with Cream in Amensia, on the White Isle, Eddie’s Summer is looking busier than ever, doing up to ten or eleven gigs throughout the season and in playing fellow DJ’s Laidback Luke’s arena at Creamfields this year, the former Radio One DJ is hoping for a completely different experience at the festival that turned into somewhat of a mudbath last year.

“Hopefully the weather doesn’t spoil things like it did last year,” says Eddie, “we were very fortunate last year because we did the Saturday and the weather was bad but it was a shame it got cancelled on the Sunday so hopefully we’ll get a good year this year. DJ, Eddie Halliwell

“Last year we had our own area – again that was fortunate because we were on a hill so we didn’t get washed out the water was running off – so we had the fire it up arena and had a selection of DJs who we wanted to play in the arena so that was fantastic and a different experience because we’d never done that before.

“As for playing LBL’s arena this year that is another experience I’ve never had so I’m looking forward to that for a change again.”

As he plays different festivals around the world from Australia to Ibiza, Eddie says it is “important to be organized” because the crowds can be so different from place to place.

“Cream has got so big now it consistently has one of the best audiences to play to.

“Cream always does a great job in booking acts and DJs that people want to see as well as acts that are quality but people haven’t necessarily heard of, they always strike a good balance.

“You go to some events and people will think too outside the box and it goes over people’s heads and other time you get promoters who every time they do something it’s a known name which can get a bit boring.

“Cream have a good balance which represent not only in the festivals but in the clubs.

“I just think as a clubber I look back at old flyers that crop up and you look at the line ups  they always but the best acts on.

“They’re always on the money with finding new acts. ”

But then again, you would say that Eddie!

Eddie Halliwell Festival

Eddie Halliwell will be appearing at the Creamfields Festival on August 25.

For tickets and info visit http://www.creamfields.co

REVIEW: Ghost The Musical

Over 20 years have passed since Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze starred in the heartbreaking film version of ‘Ghost’.

So beloved was that version that when a stage adaptation was suggested, fans of the original big screen version were, understandably, a little sceptical.

Transitions from screen to stage can be tricky. However the ‘tricky’ parts of Ghost: The Musical are what makes it so incredible.

Back in Manchester, where the magic started with a world premier back in 2011, Ghost, is starting it’s UK wide tour with Stewart Clarke and Rebecca Trehearn taking over the roles of Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen.

Though the only iconic musical number from the screen version, ‘Unchained Melody’ makes an appearance, the impressive score from the Eurythmic’s Dave Stewart allows the leads to utilise their soaring vocals – particularly  pitch perfect performances from Trehearn in many of her solos.

But it is the incredible staging, lighting effects and magic tricks from the production team that truly makes this a jaw-dropping experience.

As Sam is killed during a mugging, his transition from one life to the next is seamless and really makes the audience question what they have just seen.

Credit must be given to Stevie Hutchinson as the suitably creepy subway train ghost making up part of an impressive sequence on “his” carriage and the lady clearly born for the part of psychic Oda Mae Brown, Wendy Mae Brown who took on the iconic Whoopi Goldberg role, allowing for some very funny comic relief. This is one musical that has to be seen to be believed.

The tour continues around the country and comes to Liverpool in February 2014.