Mr Lovely by Paul Hollywood

As a boy, the Great British Bake Off judge was a rebellious Led Zeppelin fan. But his cane-wielding, ironically named geography teacher knew how to bring him into line
24th October 2014, 1:00am


Mr Lovely by Paul Hollywood

As well as teaching me geography, Mr Lovely was my housemaster at the Mosslands School in Wallasey, in the Wirral. He was the one who dished out the cane, but even though I was a bit of a naughty child, I managed to avoid it. Let's just say I got away with it.

I was always getting into trouble for talking in class and messing around. I'd take one of those single wooden desks with a chair attached and move it round the room when the teacher turned away. I was always doing stupid things like that for a laugh. It was a lot of fun, if I remember rightly.

Mr Lovely's voice was deep and authoritative and he used to shout all the time. He scared the living daylights out of all of us and his manner was totally at odds with his name.

I wasn't particularly good at school as I never bothered revising and didn't concentrate as much as I should have. Yet I never fell asleep in Mr Lovely's class. You couldn't - he just bawled at you. And because he shouted everything, you actually learned something. I still remember a lot of it now.

I liked him because of his character: I thought he was hilarious. He was quite sarcastic and funny during classes and I used to find that entertaining.

As my housemaster, he was the person who moved me up a band. When I first arrived I was put in the CSE classes, but after a term he moved me up to O-level. I was shocked but my parents were happy. So I have Mr Lovely to thank for my leaving school with O-levels.

He was always telling me to get my hair cut. When I was at school you were a mod, skinhead, sweat or rocker. I was a sweat, which meant I was with the long-haired mob who listened to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Hawkwind. Did I get my hair cut? Too right. Otherwise I'd have been expelled.

Another teacher who left an impression on me was Mr Byrne, who taught art. He was a massive bloke - an absolutely colossal fellow - and he stomped around in cowboy boots. We all thought he was really hard. There was a story going round that if you didn't bring your homework in, he'd hang you out of the top block window by your hair.

I liked art but I wasn't a great artist. For Mr Byrne it was all about interpretation and his encouragement made me stick with it. He was pleased when I said I was going to art school. When I first got there, I learned photography, sculpting, potting and textiles, but then you had to pick which one you wanted to carry on with and I chose sculpture.

I'm not in touch with either teacher now, but 10 or 15 years after I left school I did pop in to say hello to Mr Lovely. It was nice to see him and he did remember me. I've not been back since everything kicked off with Bake Off.

Thinking back to school, I suppose I was ruled by the rod rather than by a pat on the back. The threat of the cane or of being shouted at was always hanging over you. Education has changed now, I think for the better, yet I still have fond memories of these two teachers. They encouraged me but in a no-nonsense way, and that suited me.

Paul Hollywood was talking to Kate Bohdanowicz. His book British Baking is published by Bloomsbury, priced at pound;25. Tickets for Paul Hollywood's British Baking Live Tour are available at

Bun factor

Paul Hollywood

Born 1 March 1966, Wallasey, Wirral, Merseyside

Education The Mosslands School, Wallasey; Wallasey School of Art

Career Baker, author, television presenter and judge on BBC One's The Great British Bake Off

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters