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Bake Off winner Nadiya talks anxiety, acceptance and self-love | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV


Nadiya on set of her new show

Nadiya says entering GBBO was the most anxiety inducing thing she’s ever done (Image: BBC)

Not a lot of people know this, but I’m very good at… rollerblading. It’s a bit 90s, I know, but I can do it really well. Admittedly I haven’t done it for a while but I used to be pretty good at it. I see that videos are all over TikTok, so I’m actually bang on trend. Not that I use TikTok. 

My best friend is… my husband, Abdal. I have three sisters and two brothers who I’m also very close to. 

My nickname is… Noddy. Well, it used to be at school. Nowadays everyone just calls me Nad. 

The bravest thing I’ve ever done was… entering The Great British Bake Off in 2015, although it was the most anxiety-inducing thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had so many panic attacks leading up to it. I was a sweaty, crying, panicky mess on the first day of filming. Abdal took a picture of me when I left home to film the first episode and you can see the nervousness in my eyes. I was petrified. I can only imagine the fear my husband would have been feeling also. It was the first time I’d been on a train on my own – and I travelled to London. But second to that was baking the Queen’s 90th birthday cake. I had just come off a plane from Bangladesh, so I was very jet-lagged and tired. I had just four days to bake the cake. It was nerve-racking. 

My favourite TV show is… Gogglebox. [I’m that person who talks to the television when it’s on. I’m always making annoying comments. 

My perfect evening is… Well, it would start with a big bath together with my three kids, Musa, 13, Dawud, 12, and Maryam, nine, with a bath bomb. Although we can’t really do it any more because we can’t all fit. Then we’d have a really delicious dinner, which we’d all cook together. Then they’d go off to bed – we sometimes put up the camp beds upstairs and take some snacks and they have a movie. Abdal and I would chill out downstairs with a pot of tea and some cake – probably my favourite carrot cake or lemon drizzle. Then we’d watch a soppy movie. We’d wait for the noise to subside upstairs and then relax. 

My first kiss was… with my husband on our wedding day. Yes, it felt strange to wait that long. He was my first everything. It was weird for both of us really. I don’t really agree with arranged marriages but it’s worked out brilliantly for us. I’m very lucky. 

The best thing my parents taught me was… to value my elders. I’ve grown up in a culture where the elders are the top of the household, the ones who make the rules and who are respected. If someone older than you walks into a room, you get up and give them your seat. That’s what we were taught to do. It’s something I instil in my own children. I feel like sometimes those values get lost. Our elders have lived and they have wisdom that we don’t have, which we should respect. My grandma, who was orphaned at four and married at 12, had no education – she can’t read or write. But she has so much wisdom. She teaches me life lessons as a woman. I could never get that from anybody else and I value that. 

Nadiya on set of her new show

Nadiya says lockdown has helped her learn to love herself (Image: BBC)

My biggest regret is… not going to university. I was the first girl in my family to get an opportunity to go to university to study psychology, but my parents were too afraid and didn’t let me go. Part of me wishes I’d ignored them and just gone. If I ever could go back and change something, I would have rebelled. But it’s not all bad as I had my family instead. And in the end, I did an Open University course studying childhood and youth studies anyway. 

I’d like to say sorry to… my dad. I was the teenager who asked too many questions and constantly had a go at him. I made his life hell. I was such an angsty teenager. If I ever complain to him that my kids are irritating me, he just says, “Karma.” I’m a lot nicer to my dad nowadays. 

The one thing I’d change about myself is… If you’d asked me this before lockdown a few months ago, I would have said I’d want to change everything about my looks. I’d love to be transformed into Jada Pinkett Smith. I love everything about her. But lockdown has given me time to learn and understand myself a little bit better. Now I don’t feel like I’ve got loads of regrets or that I want to change loads about myself. I have the body, the one that God gave me, and it keeps me alive every single day. It may not be the most toned, it may not be the tallest, and I’m covered in stretch marks, but I wouldn’t change it. We have to learn to love ourselves. 

The last time I cried was… a few weeks ago. I was two days away from finishing filming my new series Nadiya Bakes. I cried because I really missed my kids. I have these moments where I am so tired and I can’t believe I’m working 12 to 14 hours a day. It was part exhaustion, part missing them and part saying bye to the crew. 

The first record I ever bought was… Take A Look At Me Now by Westlife featuring Mariah Carey. I actually collect vinyl records. It’s something my dad always did. Our family house got broken into years ago and all the records got stolen so I’ve been trying to collect records ever since to build it back up again. 

It’s not good for my image, but I like… Pot Noodle. Obviously I pimp it up a little bit. I add extra soy sauce, chilli flakes, spring onion and coriander – I can’t leave anything alone. 

I drive… a BMW. It’s not flash, it’s just a family car my husband bought. 

The shop I can’t walk past is… Costco. I have a terrible addiction to it. I like to buy things in bulk – you know real necessities like boxes of Bueno bars. Last time I bought a packet of 60 crabsticks – I just can’t resist. 

The most expensive thing I’ve ever splashed out on is… Ooh, I’m not a big spender on myself. I bought a pair of blue kitten heel boots from Hush. I waited for months for them to go in the sale, and even then it’s way more than I would spend on a pair of shoes. 

My last holiday was… Denmark. We went to Billund, the home of Lego. The whole family love it. 

I’m currently reading… Bizarrely I’m not reading anything at the moment. But I just finished Nikesh Shukla’s Brown Baby, A Memoir Of Race, Family And Home. When I was pregnant with my first, I struggled to find parenting books that I could relate to. TheEnglish books would say something like, “After you’ve had a baby, tell family to give you seven days to get settled before you start having visitors.” Well, it just doesn’t work like that in my family. My mother-in-law was waiting outside the delivery room. 

If I had half an hour left on Earth, I’d… raid the fridge and have five minutes with my husband and hold the kids tight. 

Nadiya Bakes is on Wednesday, 8pm, on BBC2. 



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