After 10 gruelling weeks of being tested in the Great British Bake Off tent, David Atherton has been crowned 2019’s champion.
David beat fellow finalists Alice Fevronia and Steph Blackwell in Tuesday’s finale, which included chocolate cake and stilton souffle.
David, an international health adviser from London, said winning was “the best feeling in the world”.
He triumphed despite not having been named star baker during the series.
Steph had been given the accolade in four episodes, and Alice received it twice.
“Week on week other people were stronger,” he said. “I was always the underdog and yet I just managed to get through.
“All of it is a bit surreal and I am still trying to process it, but the whole Bake Off journey is non-stop and part of it is just having the stamina.
“Honestly it was never in my mind that I thought I could win this. I have had daydreams of winning Bake Off for about 10 years. The judges always loved my presentation but not my flavours.”
The final started with David, Steph and Alice being tasked with baking a decadent chocolate cake. Next came a twice-baked stilton souffle in the technical challenge – the round in which the dish is sprung on contestants, whereas they are able to practice for the other two.
Finally in the showstopper, as their families gathered outside the tent, the final trio had to create a visual illusion picnic basket using cakes, sweet breads and biscuits.
At the end of the episode, Hollywood said: “Well done mate you smashed it… David came in as probably the underdog into the final knowing that twice Alice has won [star baker] and Steph won four times.
“He has gone from nothing to win the whole thing – it’s priceless, absolutely priceless, he should be really proud of himself. I think he has done an amazing job.”
Fellow judge Prue Leith added: “David is an extraordinary baker and I am so full of admiration for him.
“Right from the beginning he has never lost his temper he has always been very neat and organised. It was really a question of the tortoise catching the hare. He just steadily went on and won.”
The two other finalists were equally full of praise for the victor.
Alice, a geography teacher from Essex, said: “David just blew us out of the water – the best baker won. I am so happy and really proud of myself and I can really leave with my head held high. It’s just the best feeling.”
Steph, a shop assistant from Chester, added: “I have made some amazing lifelong friends. It’s just really been the most incredible experience ever.”
Series 10 was the third since the show moved from BBC One to Channel 4, and featured a decidedly younger contingent of hopefuls. David beat 12 other contestants, more than half of whom were in their 20s, while the oldest contestant was 56.
The average viewing figures for this series have been around 8.9 million per episode, on a par with those in 2018, when Rahul Mandal won.
While The Great British Bake Off has not achieved the audience size it enjoyed on BBC One – where it peaked at almost 16 million for the 2016 final – it has been a big success for Channel 4, with some episodes almost reaching the 10 million mark.
By comparison, Gogglebox, the broadcaster’s next most successful show, averages around four million viewers. And a significant proportion of The Great British Bake Off’s audience is made up of the younger viewers particularly prized by advertisers.
David has had to keep his win secret since the finale was filmed, keeping the trophy under his bed. “I am now planning to put a potted palm on it and keep it in the living room,” he said.
He said he was “looking forward to the exciting opportunities that might come from this”.
He also had a final word of advice for anyone thinking about applying for the series.
“Don’t think you have to be a totally perfect baker to apply for Bake Off. If you think like that you won’t ever be ready.
“You get a lot of help and you learn so much along the way. It’s a great experience and I would encourage any amateur bakers out there to apply.”