Rahul Mandal, a research scientist from India, has been crowned the winner of the Great British Bake Off 2018. Despite having little-to-no faith in his own abilities throughout the competition, the worry-wart proved himself to the judges and his peers as an excellent star-baker.
Rahul moved from his home in Kolkata, India to the UK seven years ago on a university scholarship. He later obtained a PhD in optical metrology and is currently working as a research associate at the University of Sheffield.
Now aged 30, Rahul admits he never baked while in India, but learned the skill five years ago because he felt lonely. It was a colleague (with a particular love for Rahul’s lemon drizzle cake) who encouraged him to enter the Great British Bake Off earlier this year.
One of his most noticeable characteristics is his nervousness and lack of self-belief. Each week, Channel 4 viewers saw Rahul apologise unnecessarily to judge Paul Hollywood. Some common phrases include, “I’m very, very very nervous”, “my hands are shaking”, and “oh no, oh no, oh no.”
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 31, 2018
The final, which aired on Channel 4 last night, saw Rahul compete against finalists Ruby Bhogal and Kim-Joy Hewlett. The trio were tasked with baking doughnuts, bread on an open fire, and an “edible landscape” showstopper. In the end, Rahul’s edible rock garden guaranteed him the winning title.
According to the BBC, last night’s final was watched by an average of 7.5 million people, a slight increase in last year’s figures of 7.3 million. The number of viewers peaked in the last five minutes of last night’s how, with approximately 8.1 million people tuning in to see Rahul be crowned the winner.
The public’s reaction
Twitter users have had very mixed reactions to Rahul’s win; with some saying it’s well deserved, and others insisting Kim Joy should have won instead. See examples below:
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) October 30, 2018
Hooray Rahul Mandal won Great British Bake Off. I cried when he won he’s been absolutely brilliant all the way through this sensational season. Well done xxxxx
— Christopher Biggins (@onebiggins) October 31, 2018
Kim Joy should have won but I knew she wouldn’t because Rahul was planned to win from the start! The show is such a fix #GBBOFinal
— Tiv (@OttiviaRue) October 31, 2018
I haven’t watched the #GBBO final yet. Already seen that Rahul won. I knew that weeks ago. He was the shows & judges favourite from the start ?
— Matthew Theobald (@DirtyLyle) October 31, 2018
So I just cried happy tears watching Rahul crowned winner of #GBBOfinal! Well deserved in my opinion & he really melted my heart the entire series! All you negative lot coming out of the woodwork to slate Rahul for winning is ridiculous ? bit of positivity wouldn’t go a miss!
— Adele (@adelelock_) October 31, 2018
Photo: Great British Bake Off, Channel 4