He told a new Channel 4 series that when he walked into the famous Bake Off tent for the first time that it was “very cute” – but “couldn’t see the public liking it”.
Paul added: “I thought, ‘This is a bit weird. It looks like a British village fete.’ The critics came back hating it but as the weeks went on the numbers starting climbing.”
In this new series, Paul Hollywood’s Baking Life, he shares his favourite recipes from a lifetime of baking.
The four part-series, starting tomorrow, also includes revelations about his childhood and life as a baker at The Dorchester and Cliveden House.
It is accompanied by a new recipe book.
The show also features sneak peeks behind the scenes of the Bake Off tent, guest slots from Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig and Prue Leith, along with appearances from ex-GBBO bakers Val and Selasi, friends and family.
In the first episode, he watches his audition tape for the show in 2010.
Seeing himself for the first time, he said: “I don’t like watching myself on camera. Get your jumper off. Change your jeans and lose weight!”
When he first met co-judge Mary Berry, he said: “She gave me a big hug and we just got on right from the start. Maybe it was the accent. Bit of rough from the North!”
Paul Hollywood’s Baking Life, tomorrow at 8pm on Channel 4.