BAKE Off champ John Whaite has warned the latest batch of wannabe bakers to be careful what they wish for – after winning the show derailed his life.
The star, 33, appeared on the series in 2012 – when he was 23 – but struggled to deal with his new-found fame.
The cake-maker turned dancefloor star on Strictly Come Dancing where he finished runner-up to winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice in the series' first same-sex couple.
Writing in The Telegraph, he said: "Some days I’d wish I had never been on the show, because in reality, it totally derailed me from a steady life path.
"I could blame the production company or the BBC.
"It would be simple to point the finger and say they gave me no advice on how to manage the transience of the industry, or how to comprehend the temporariness of my appeal.
"They didn’t, and perhaps in the wake of reality TV star meltdowns and suicides, there should be a serious reform of the way contributors are prepared for, and guided through, their post-show life.
"But I don’t think it would have made an ounce of difference even if they had. Addiction to the razzle dazzle came naturally to the youthful me."
He says he thought he'd never win the show – and sometimes regrets even agreeing to appear.
The baker admits his flow of work started to dry up as more contestants emerged, and it caused him to hit the bottle.
John said: "What I failed to remember though, was that age-old mantra: be careful what you wish for.
"Because as the next batch of Bake Off stars emerged, my appeal shrank.
"Year on year, the working days became fewer and financial offers were smaller.
"The life to which I had become accustomed slowly dissolved. With more days alone at home, waiting by the phone like an anxious 1980s teenager urging their crush to call, my already depressed state of mind worsened.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
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"I drank more than I should have and posted unwisely on Instagram and Twitter. If I knew then what I knew now, would I do it all again? Absolutely. But I’d approach it so differently."
He says his advice to this year's contestant would be: "Take the opportunities while you can, take the money and run if you want to, but do not take it too seriously.
"Most importantly don’t let yourself be diluted by it all.
"The person you were before the show is the best version of you; that’s the person you were always supposed to be."
John Whaite was just 23 years old and studying for his law exams when he dazzled the judges.
The Manchester-based champion decided to put his career at the bar on hold in favour of taking classes at the esteemed school, Le Cordon Bleu.
John, who has been baking since he was five, has since managed to carve himself out a successful media career.
He appeared as resident chef on ITV’s Lorraine and made guest appearances on What's Cooking, This Morning and Sunday Brunch.
His stint on Strictly, partnered with professional dancer Johannes Radebe, was a huge success – and landed him a role in the West End.
John is amongst a number of famous faces who’ve joined up to OnlyFans.
He's already shared cheeky nude snaps with fans on social media before moving to the subscription website.
John has also released three cookbooks, John Whaite Bakes, John Whaite Bakes At Home and Perfect Plates In Five Ingredients.
He previously admits the pressure of winning the show can be “daunting and overwhelming” but he has learned to deal with fame.
In 2018, he opened a cookery school on the family farm where he grew up in Lancashire.
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