Words Nigel Lewis
Jane Beedle enjoyed ten weeks of national fame when she made it to the final of series seven last year, the last Great British Bake Off before the programme transfers to Channel 4.
The 61-year old mother of three says her life hasn’t changed since baking famed beckoned and that she’s been busy back at her garden design business that she runs with her best friend. Although she’s also been doing some TV work from her home kitchen for both the Good Morning Britain and Lorraine TV shows.
“The big difference I’ve noticed is that suddenly everyone wants to talk to you,” she says, which most recently included meeting the fans while launching the new Beckenham Market.
Her most memorable moment?
Her bake off journey started when her business partner Harriet kept on hounding her to apply to be on the show, and on the third attempt, she was accepted.
Jane says she remembers two of the episodes the best, but for different reasons. She says her mini mouse cakes made for the showstopper section of week seven were her proudest moment.
“I pity the poor people who had to clean my bench area after that; I have never seen so much mess in all my life,” she says.
But the next week disaster struck when her three-tiered floral cake went wrong and, at the time, left her “fed up and miserable; it was my worst week on the show,” she says.
What a lot of the programme’s fans won’t know is that contestants have a week to practice each of their bakes at home before filming, and Jane used her kitchen in her home in Beckenham as her practice area.
“Lord knows how much icing sugar is hiding behind the units left over from that time,” she says.
The next owners of the house will soon find out. Jane says that now all their children have left home, she and her husband want to sell up and move to a more rural and slower-paced area.
Bought as a wreck
They bought the property pretty much as a wreck. It had belonged to the local Conservative Party and served as their clubhouse and constituency office for over fifty years before Jane bought it, so the first thing had to do was convert back into a home.
“They had divided the building into two sets of offices and knocked two bedrooms to make a meeting room, which when moved in still had pictures of all the former Tory leaders hanging on the wall,” she says.
“There was no kitchen to speak of, no bathrooms – just loads of men’s and women’s urinals – and we lived in a small back room and cooked using an electric frying pan and a kettle during the six months that the work took to complete.
“At one point I saw my six-foot-five-inch tall son trying to wash his feet in one of the inty loo washbasins, which was entertaining.
Space to bake
“We installed a new kitchen, but it wasn’t a really posh catering one because we always knew we’d be selling up this year and anyway there was such a lot to do here.
“I wanted a kitchen that works rather than a really expensive one – my kids have always loved sitting at the breakfast bar and chatting while I cook.”
Jane says they always intended the property to be their final push to create a pension pot and that being on TV didn’t deflect them from their plans, which is why they are selling up now.
“My husband wants to work much less, and I want to concentrate on my baking more and do less gardening, so now we can move to somewhere more rural,” she says.
Contact Foxtons on 020 7579 2929.