David Parkin has a surreal week with Bake Off, The Apprentice…and Christmas Kamara

IT’S been a bit of a surreal week.

If you don’t believe me it started with me interviewing three of the contestants from this year’s The Great British Bake Off at Leeds Arena.

And then watching football pundit Chris Kamara singing numbers from his new Christmas album.

If you don’t think that’s surreal then I’d like to know what you’ve been up to.

I blame myself.

If I hadn’t been completely flattered in being asked to judge some awards it would never have happened.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that judging awards is either quick or easy.

I’ve judged two sets of awards this year and have spent the best part of a week’s time doing it.

Of course it’s an honour and you get to meet interesting people and find out about fascinating businesses.

That has certainly been the case judging the Prolific North Awards for creative and digital firms across the North of England and the White Rose Awards – Yorkshire’s tourism Oscars.

But it is time consuming.

So the pay-off is going along and having a fun evening at the awards ceremony.

Well until you are asked to be a “roving reporter” at the event.

Actually I was delighted to get involved in Welcome to Yorkshire’s White Rose Awards at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.

It’s well run, well attended, glitzy and the liveliest Monday evening you’ll spend during a grey late November.

My job was to pop up in the audience of 800 at Leeds Arena to ask a few questions of some of the guests.

Bake Off winner, Yorkshireman David Atherton, couldn’t make the awards event but three of the county’s contestants that also took part in the hit show this year were there.

And it was my job to ask them a few questions.

You can judge from viewing the video clip below, filmed and Tweeted by Gill Laidler of Topic UK magazine, how I got on.

Helena Garcia, Amelia Le Bruin and Dan Chambers were great fun and up for a laugh.

Helena Garcia was born in North Africa, grew up in Lanzarote and studied in Spain before moving to live in Leeds.

Well everyone needs a change of scenery.

I told the audience she got into baking the usual way – she went on a school exchange trip to Las Vegas and stayed with a Mormon family.

As you do.

Helena told us that was the first time she learned about Halloween and that inspired her scary creations on this year’s GBBO.

When I thanked her I asked if her accent was from Doncaster.

She looked at me with a straight face, grabbed the microphone and shouted: “No, Barnsley!” which brought a huge cheer from the audience.

I turned to chat to Amelia and said that Bake Off is very British – it seems to have been filmed during an endless summer of sunshine in a marquee on a lawn surrounded by lots of lovely cakes.

But then the judges turn up and ruin it by kicking someone out.

I asked what it was like being in that famous tent and she said it was actually really enjoyable and she wasn’t traumatised at all.

Even by the smug, self-satisfied ladies’ man Paul Hollywood (my words not her’s).

Finally I chatted to Dan Chambers, who got into baking to impress his girlfriend.

I asked if it had worked.

“Well I’m now married to her…” he replied with a smile.

I asked the audience if they viewed that as a success and they cheered.

After his experience on GBBO self-taught baker Dan told us that he still cooks and has returned to his job as a support worker in Rotherham.

I then had to hand back to the hosts of the evening, Heart Radio presenters Rich Williams and Natalie Anderson.

But rather than just saying “back to you” I needed something a bit more impactful.

So I said: “Natalie, Rich, given we are talking about baking…it’s from this hunk of Yorkshire Parkin back to you.”

In my mind the audience reaction was something akin to what Tom Jones received in his prime.


I FOUND myself sitting next to Iraq war veteran Simon Brown at the White Rose Awards.

Readers may remember I also sat next to Simon at a Welcome to Yorkshire dinner in October and recounted his incredible recovery from being shot in the face by a sniper while rescuing fellow British troops who had been ambushed in Iraq.

He lost an eye and has had 10 operations and over 100 hours of surgery to reconstruct his face and save 20% of the vision in his remaining eye and now campaigns on behalf of the Help for Heroes charity.

We greeted each other warmly and Simon turned to the lady next to him, pointed at me and said: “He only sits next to me so he’s the pretty one.”

Later on I told him one of the guests had complained her vegetarian meal didn’t have any gravy on.

“She’s had nowt moist all night…” he said with a straight face.

He told me he’s made several TV appearances and can gauge the quality of a place through which TV show people recognise him from.

“Some say Newsnight and others remember me from appearing on Jeremy Kyle.”


AMONG the entertainment at the White Rose Awards were the dancers from Leeds West Indian Carnival and a singer called Charlotte Hannah whose latest single, Shine Your Love, is out now, apparently.

I’m no expert but with her platinum blonde tresses and spangly dress I’d say she was Doncaster’s answer to Christina Aguilera.

She wore a long pair of knee-high tight fabric platform boots but either the elastic was a bit loose or she was paying homage to another glamorous Yorkshire siren – Norah Batty and her legendary wrinkled stockings.


ANOTHER guest who caught my eye did so not because she was wearing a very short dress, but because of the number of selfies I saw her take on her way into the venue.

I’d say she took 10 minutes of pouty shots until she decided she was ready to enter the main hall of the arena.

What worried me was that she hadn’t noticed that she was standing right in the middle of the exit route of the Barnsley Sea Cadets Band who had been playing for guests during the drinks reception.

The bass drummer was short and stout and totally focussed on banging the drum with gusto, so much so that I thought there might be an unfortunate incident with the short dress and the drummer’s beater.

It was only later on in the evening that I realised that the selfie-obsessed lady went up on stage and was announced as Sian Gabbidon, winner of BBC TV show The Apprentice in 2018 and now running a fashion business with investment from Lord Sugar.

Well entrepreneurs, and their frocks, come in all shapes and sizes.


AS I mentioned before the most surreal part of the evening was Sky Sports pundit Chris Kamara crooning a couple of Christmas numbers from his new album.

He urged the audience to buy or download the album, which features 10 songs including nine classics such as Jingle Bells, Santa Baby and a newly written number called Here’s to Christmas.

Apparently, other than Band Aid, there hasn’t been a Christmas song at number one in the charts since Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine, according to Kammy.

He said he’d like to beat Robbie Williams to be Christmas number one.

He treated the audience at the White Rose Awards to the new song, which you might not be surprised to know, is as cheesy as a bag of Wotsits.

Then he launched into Let It Snow, which I wouldn’t say he murdered, he just gave it a light throttling.

I don’t mind a novelty song at Christmas, but as someone said to me: “It’s not even for charity.”

You do what you like, but I’m not contributing to Chris Kamara’s pension pot.

As he would definitely say (several times): “Unbelievable.”


LAST year’s roving reporter at the White Rose Awards was flamboyantly dressed, camp weatherman Owain Wyn Evans.

As you can imagine, I’ve got very little in common with him.

Well I’m not a meteorologist.

Have a great weekend.


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