Monday, 2 February 2015

Fame fame, fatal fame...

... it can play hideous tricks on your brain.

The main one being that in a six month period between filming and transmission, all sorts of rubbish goes on in your head. "I was a complete tit", "I made a bad joke", "I looked horrible". So come the day of broadcast, when your mum has told all her friends, everyone you know is ready to watch and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, you end up watching from behind your hands, wondering if your only five minutes of airtime will be the most humiliating thing ever.

It wasn't. I lived. And had an entire day of people telling me how brilliant I am. I could get used to that.

Icing ninja

This is the story of what it's like to be a "member of the public" guest on an ITV daytime programme.

"Hi, I'm calling from Let's Do Lunch with Gino and Mel! We'd like to have you and your kransekake on a Christmas show. Do you watch the programme?"
"Yes" (no)
"You know who Gino diCampo is?"
"Of  course!" (no)

A week later I'm lugging a 10-layer kransekage on the tube and making my way to the huge ITV tower on the South Bank. Pictures in reception: Jeremy Kyle, This Morning, Lorraine Kelly... I'm clueless, I rarely watch TV in the day, I never watch ITV unless it's something with David Tennant in. Or Agatha Christie's Marple, I love a bit of Marple. As I'm sitting there, an arguing couple exit the lift.
Oh good god, I'm in Jeremy Kyle land. Help me!

The producers are lovely, desperate to find someone reasonably sane and friendly to fill their slot and jumping on my words like I'm the most interesting person ever. I get carried away.
"Sometimes," I say, "we put chocolate on the base of the kransekage". Production lady is over the moon. "Chocolate! Yes, that will be great". There is no chocolate on a stacked kransekage. Somehow I forget to mention it.
"And green and red icing! Because Gino's Italian and he's decorating the cake!"
Nooooo. Never. Oh, okay then.

I'm in. Filming in two weeks. We need an 18-layer cake for display, and 18-layer cake for Gino and a spare one in case things go wrong. Icing bags, flags (Italian), icing, plates, decorations. I make a list, down to the last plate, and send it to the producer.

"This is great. Can you specify how many flags you'll be bringing? Also, we've decided Mel's going to make one too so we need another cake and some English flags.

Right. Another internet order, another kilo of marzipan. We're up to four cakes.

"Hi Karen. Great news! The guest's going to join the challenge too! So we'll need another cake. He's English though so you can use the same flags.".

Right... five kransekage, That's a lot of kransekage. "Oh, and another spare!"

I'm a bit cross until I ask who the guest is. It's only Warwick "Willow" Davies. My geek brain goes a bit crazy and I'm suddenly in love with the whole thing again. TV, huh?

They send a car to pick me up, which is marvellous. Every day should start like this.
Two producers and I fight through the crowds in reception (there are only two lifts working) carrying an assortment of boxes, and I'm led through to the studio, where I dump everything on a table before being taken straight through to make up. It's 10am. We're filming at 12.30. Ish. Hopefully.

Make up is wonderful. I'm brought a coffee and offered pastries and a fantastic, cheerful lady in red lipstick and leopardskin with an astounding number of bottles sets to, finding some cheekbones I never knew I had and generally turning early-morning me into something almost unrecognisable.

In make-up

A final bit of lipstick and firm instructions for nil by mouth until filming and I'm off to sort out my cakes.

I put three uniced kranskage on to plates, arrange my already iced and almost stacked display cake and lay out the icing bags and flags. The chocolate is nowhere to be seen. There is an awful lot of waiting around as the producers and presenters do their job, set up angles, fiddle with autocues and do timings. There's a rehearsal, during which I make a mess of talking, and a pep talk. Oh, and we're not using the flags. We're definitely using the chocolate though. A runner is put on chocolate duty.

I meet Warwick Davies in the green room and manage to keep my cool by being entirely silent and completely failing to ask for the selfie I really wanted to get with him. We all watch the show start, Mel and Gino transformed from the efficient, busy professionals of earlier into sparkly smiley presenters and one by one we file in, Warwick Davies first, the cheese lady second and then finally me.

Chatting to Professor Flitwick like it ain't no thing

When I finally go on, I'm a lot more confident than in rehearsal. It goes so quickly I can hardly remember what happened. I know I shouted (I do that, I can't seem to help it) and, worst of all, made an accidental height joke at my geek hero. But then it's off set to clear up and out of the building and that's that for almost six months.

Bad education

Then it's on. My phone's broken so I borrow a lovely customer's smartphone and watch it from behind my hands with my friend Andy. He likes it, I like it, the accidental height joke is funny instead of offensive, my parents are proud. My brother puts it on YouTube and I put it on my page.

A customer emails: "I'm a little worried about the chocolate and the icing. Can you assure me you'll make a traditional kransekage?" Well yes, I reply. Of course I will. "But on the TV..."

Clearly I am willing to do anything to be on TV, like those people who eat insects in the jungle. I have no shame. I don't even care.

Fast forward two weeks and Paul Hollywood makes his kransekake on prime time BBC1. I have no idea what the man's thinking. Semolina for a start. And who on earth would cover a kransekake in red icing and green glitter? It's shocking, really.

Within two weeks there have been two kransekage on TV. Both have been wrong. One of them is my fault. I'm sorry, I really am. I promise to make only the most traditional, lovely kransekage from here on in. Unless I'm asked to be on TV again, then all bets are off.

Autographs are available on request and only a small charge for selfies. Contact my agent.

Thanks to Stacey for the screengrabs. x

Watch me gleefully sacrifice my art for fame here:


  1. I thought it was brilliant - especially the part about Warwick Davis' height. You really MUST do more TV, Karen :)

  2. Well thank you! Not sure how I'd go about it. Challenge Hollywood to a bake off maybe?

  3. haha brilliantly entertaining blog! Love it, espesh the Warwick Davis bit as above :)

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  5. You were fab! And I think chocolate goes with everything anyway, or it should do :)

    1. I actually really does. The production staff demolished an entire cake by picking bits off and dipping them in the melted 75% chocolate. Like churros.

  6. You met Wicket! That's so cool!

    1. I KNOW! My son was terribly disappointed I wasn't on telly with an actual Ewok.(So was I, a bit)

  7. You were brilliant Karen - such a natural! Great write up too!