The Great British Baking Show has returned to Netflix, officially marking the end of summer. But for a certain demographic of Instagram and Facebook users, judge Paul Hollywood is always in season. In the tent, the silver-haired, 57-year-old bread expert strikes fear and doubt into the hearts of contestants. But online, his baking tips and advice appear to provoke a different emotion: abject horniness.
Hollywood maintains an active presence across Instagram and Facebook, where he has 585,000 and 525,000 followers respectively. On both platforms, the baker will valiantly attempt to post a recipe or an earnest update about his professional life, and someone (typically a middle-aged woman with a cartoon rabbit sipping tea as her profile picture) will comment “you can knead my biscuits any time” under her full government name.
Scroll through the comments on any Hollywood social media post, and you’ll find endless fawning over the judge’s piercing eyes (“Mesmerizing blue eyes! Handsome!”) alongside absolutely feral declarations of lust (“He can eat his way around me if he likes”) that could easily be dismissed as the spammy ravings of Instagram sexbots were they not attached to profiles of real women, most of whom appear to have husbands and/or children.
If you, like me, figured this thirstiness must be a holdover from something Hollywood did earlier in his career—because it certainly doesn’t make sense when applied to the Paul Hollywood we see on the show—you’d be wrong. Hollywood has been a judge on The Great British Baking Show (known in its home country as The Great British Bake-Off) and its various offshoots for the past thirteen years. He’s been the sole fixture among an otherwise ever-shifting cast of hosts and other judges. While he co-hosted shows on Carlton Food Network and Taste CFN prior to this, he was best known for his cookbooks, and before that worked at a number of prominent bakeries.
That being said, his lothario reputation is not entirely unearned. In 2013, Hollywood’s affair with Marcela Valladolid– his co-star on American Baking Competition, an early, ill-fated U.S. Bake-Off spin-off—resulted in his (first) split from then-wife Alex Hollywood. After a brief reconciliation, the two divorced for good in 2019. “My own marriage was too over seasoned with extra marital affairs for my taste,” Alex later wrote on Instagram, “and so I opted out and chose the single menu instead.”