The baker and international health advisor spoke to PeopleTV’s Reality Check on Monday

By Ana Calderone
November 12, 2019 02:14 PM

The international health advisor spoke to PeopleTV’s Reality Check on Monday after taking home the top prize on the show’s 10th season. “It’s crazy to keep on living it again and again,” he says. “At the time it was just incredible.”

Atherton wowed judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith during the finale with his incredible picnic basket showstopper. Though he felt he “nailed” the challenge, he says he wasn’t totally confident he’d be crowned the winner.

“I nailed other weeks as well so I was not sure at all,” he says.

Throughout the season, Atherton’s approach to the competition always felt a little different than the other bakers’. He rarely showed emotion or nerves, and worked more quickly than the others. It went deeper than that, though — there was a fundamental difference behind the scenes.

“I think I practiced the least. Some of my bakes I practiced once, a couple I didn’t practice at all,” he says.

The Great British Bake Off - Final
Credit: Mark Bourdillon/Channel 4

Working full time meant he simply had less time to dedicate to the task, but also, “I saw the importance of letting your brain think and rest,” he says.

Atherton made Baking Show history for being the first competitor to never win Star Baker and still take home the trophy. But he was one of the recipients of the notorious Paul Hollywood handshake — a coveted gesture since the show’s inception that has since sparked debate about its true worth. Grub Street called it the “absolute worst” for going against “the spirit of the show.” Atherton, however, is a fan.

“The Paul Hollywood handshake kind of rewards the perfect bake and also something really, really creative. So I think it’s the highest accolade,” he tells Reality Check. “Last year he gave out quite a lot and I think that cheapened it slightly, but this year there was just four so it was really special.”

“I was really proud of my Paul Hollywood handshake,” he adds. “For those of us that won them, we wouldn’t say that they’re overrated at all.”

Watch full episodes of Reality Check streaming now on, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.