Paul Hollywood was born in Wallasey, which at the time of his birth was in Cheshire (now Merseyside). His mother was a sculptor and his father a baker, from a long line of bakers, with his own chain of bakeries across the nation called Bread Winner. Hollywood studied sculpture in his teenage years, hoping to follow in his mother’s footsteps, a look into his wallet told him that maybe his father’s were better. His father re-emphasised this point by offering him £500 to cut off his long hair and start work in his bakery, an offer Hollywood couldn’t refuse. After his apprenticeship, Hollywood took work as head baker at several high-class hotels, including Cliveden House, the Chester Grosvenor, and the Dorchester. Following this, he took some time to travel (as he puts it) Cyprus and the Middle East, and it was in Cyprus where he worked at a couple of resorts as a baker.
His media career began in the early 2000s, working alongside James Martin on some television shows including Taste. But it was in 2010 that his career really kickstarted on the show we’ve all heard of, the Great British Bake Off, on which Hollywood was one of two judges – initially alongside Mary Berry. Hollywood became known for his straight-to-the-point matter-of-fact method of judging, drawing comparisons to Simon Cowell and Craig Revel Horwood, however, he disputes this claiming he is always fair with the contestants and only judges them on the produced baking, rather than the personality as the others do. Of the original judges and hosts, Hollywood was the sole member to move with the show to Channel 4 in 2017, a cause of debate amongst the loyal fan-group that the show had amassed. He is and was also the judge on the Great British Bake Offs charity specials for Sport Relief, Comic Relief, and Stand Up To Cancer as well as the sister show, The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice.
Hollywood has also appeared on other TV programs, notably showcasing his love of fast cars, baking shows, travelling Japan, and a memorable episode of Who Do You Think You Are? The baker with the icy eyes has released several cookery books, one of which, 2005’s 100 Great Breads was awarded the Top Bread and Pastry Book by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
He is no stranger to controversy, hitting the front pages of tabloid newspapers for issues in his private life surrounding divorce from his ex-wife. A source of mirth on shows he appears on with comics, like the Great British Bake Off SU2C’s infamous Lee Mack joke.