Gemma Collins wants to do an Eat, Pray, Love, Julia Roberts-style
Gemma Collins, 42, is the undisputed ‘queen of reality TV’ after launching her career on Towie, then becoming a meme sensation from appearances on Celebrity Big Brother, Celebrity MasterChef and I’m A Celebrity.
Next she’s taking on The Great Celebrity Bake Off to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer, although she does admit there was another factor behind the decision…
What tempted you to go into the Bake Off tent?
Obviously Stand Up To Cancer is a great cause but I’m a huge fan of Paul Hollywood, so when I got the call I was like, ‘I need to see Paul with my own eyeballs’. I always go into everything with such energy and pizzazz but when it came to the choux pastry it went horribly wrong. Paul Hollywood, bless him, was really complimentary because he saw how much enthusiasm I had and Prue Leith was beautiful, Matt Lucas was hilarious and… who’s the other one?
Yeah! Noel had never met anyone quite like me, so it was hilarious.
Did Paul live up to your expectations?
He is gorgeous. I can confirm to every woman on the planet that he is unbelievable in the flesh. Whoever gets to marry Paul Hollywood next will be a lucky woman. It’s just the vibe – I think he called one of my cakes ‘indescribable’ but I wasn’t bothered about the cake, I didn’t care if my choux pastry was good, I just wanted to meet Paul Hollywood.
What kind of baker are you?
I’m a freestyler and that’s where it all goes wrong. You know me, I’m not a conformist. So if you tell me to put in 125g of flour,I always put a few extra in. I love cake butI can see why I’m not a baker!
Katherine Ryan told us the Bake Off tent was swarming with bees – what surprised you the most about the tent?
To be honest, darling, I was just looking at Paul Hollywood…
Do you remember who else was there?
No I can’t remember any of them. I remember AJ Odudu was there who was hilarious but I don’t remember the rest – I can’t even tell you their names.
Shall I remind you?
So you had AJ Odudu, Jessica Hynes and Tim Key.
Jessica Hynes, she’s a top actress isn’t she?
Yeah she’s done loads of amazing work.
Me and her did have a conversation, I think she does a lot of work with asylum seekers so we talked about that but then I kept zoning out because Paul Hollywood was there.
Who were the other two?
Tim Key and AJ Odudu
I remember AJ, she was was a vibe. They were all lovely but to be honest with you I was just there for Paul Hollywood so I can’t tell you about the others but they were all so supportive, we were a really good team.
We all had a laugh and that guy whoever he was, he took it very serious – him, the actress and AJ all took it very serious. I was a total fraud, I was a sniper, I was the undercover cop there for Paul Hollywood. If I had to be in that tent for two days it was all worth it.
You’ve taken on plenty of reality TV shows, so what’s still on your list?
I’m the queen of reality TV. But I reached a point in my life where I wanted to move on because I was always filming. I’ve had time to concentrate on myself and enjoy a bit of normal life. I never used to go to the supermarket, I never had time to do normal life stuff. It’s been nice. Everyone loves ‘The GC’ but sometimes it’s nice to be me.
I’ve got really into gardening. This week I spent £400 on strawberries, seeds, carrots and tomatoes, and in that moment I was paying for it I was thinking, ‘That could have bought me a Gucci bag, what’s happened to me?’
But I love going to the garden centre and seeing people walking around. It’s exciting to me because I’ve never done it before.
So a travel show or gardening show?
I’d love it! I’ve got my sights on Jane McDonald, she cracks me up. She goes on holiday and bursts into song, she has got the best job in TV – I love her. If Jane needs someone to fill her boots when she’s fed up with it, then I would love the honour. She’s an incredible woman.
What’s on your bucket list?
I want to go to the Taj Mahal and sit there and have my picture taken like Princess Diana did. I’m on a spiritual journey at the minute. I watched Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts and I want that experience with the Buddhist monks. I went to Bethlehem this year, I had to go to Palestine – The GC in Palestine, can you believe it?
How has spirituality changed your outlook on life?
Once you’ve done the shopping and the fancy holidays, dig deep and graft the real meaning of life. I’m on my journey, hun! I’ve met Paul Hollywood, the Taj Mahal is next and I’m going to duet with Jane McDonald on a cruise ship. I want to go into films, movies and acting. Also my mission right now is to save animals on the planet. I’ve just given up meat and I feel like I’m definitely doing the right thing. I’ve tried it many times before and haven’t always been in the right head space, but now I am.
I’m older, I’m a lot wiser, I have more of a commitment – and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. How can I be a crusader for animals but then eat a bit of steak?
If we eventually have to eat insects, would you do that?
Never. I was asked to do I’m A Celebrity again but I don’t want to eat animals for people’s entertainment. I said I couldn’t do it.
It sounds as though you’re entering your activist era…
I am, hun! I’ve loved turning 40, although I was dreading it. I had DJ Fat Tony at my party and he’s someone I’ve always wanted to meet. I was standing there in the room, living my best life dancing.
Who would play you in a movie?
There’s so much upcoming talent. But maybe Diana Dors? Oh no! I think she’s dead – yeah, she’s dead, bless her. I think Sheridan Smith is an incredible actress. She could play me really well.
The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer is on Sunday at 7.40pm on Channel 4
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