Howard Middleton’s dream of stardom finally crumbled this week as judges voted him off the Great British Bake Off.
But the 52-year-old city council manager has not given up on the idea: “This has given me a different perspective on things,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s the end of the road.
“If other opportunities come along I shall consider them.”
Howard has known for months that he would leave the popular BBC Two show this week, beaten by the intricacies of sweet dough.
But the rest of the nation discovered the truth on Tuesday night – and Howard was unprepared for the public outcry.
“Obviously I knew this would happen. I didn’t expect the unbelievable support from you all. I am humbled,” he tweeted. Adding cheekily: “Going out with my peachy buns proudly on display.”
Howard got off to a good start, impressing judges in the first week with his gluten-free passionfruit and coconut cake.
But he lost ground in subsequent weeks, despite his innovative approach and unusual ingredients.
He made it to the final seven bakers, but disaster finally struck this week.
His hemp loaf – a Bake Off first – fell short of the mark and the peachy buns were judged “quite bland and very dry.”
“I’m so frustrated… I just don’t seem to be able to nail the signature bakes,” he moaned.
The last straw was this week’s technical challenge, a French apricot couronne. Howard enjoyed the baking, but presenter Paul Hollywood dismissed his efforts as ‘a bit thin’ and put him in last place.
Howard settled down to watch the fateful episode with family and friends.
“It’s really hard when you know in advance what the outcome’s going to be – but you never know how it’s going to be shown on TV,” he said.
“I’ve had a fair bit of ribbing about my appearances, but I don’t mind that.
“I’m absolutely blown away by the support and the fact that people have been so nice.”
There’s also the fact that he has 12 new friends, with whom he shared a dramatic few weeks of stardom.
“We get on really well together and I love all the ones who are still in the show,” he says.
They keep in touch regularly via text and Twitter – and are planning a reunion after the final show is screened in December.
So, does Howard know who is the eventual winner?
“I do… I can’t reveal it, but let’s just say I’m very happy with the end result.”