Great Britain

Strictly star John Whaite’s incredible transformation from scruffy student to Bake Off winner to disco hunk

STRICTLY’S John Whaite has become a firm fan favourite after just one episode of the 2021 series of the show. 

The 32-year-old chef’s pairing with pro Johannes Radebe is the BBC's first same-sex male couple. 

And fans couldn’t get enough of it - with one tweeting: "John and Johannes is EVERYTHING."

But Lancashire-born John has come a long way since he was crowned star baker on The Great British Bake Off in 2012. 

The star is virtually unrecognisable from the scruffy and skinny law graduate we first met on the baking show in 2012.

Now, John is impressing audiences with his bulging guns and pecs - and perfectly polished looks.

We take a peek at how he's beaten the odds to go from a baby-faced baker to a perfectly polished disco king.

Bake Off's weedy law student 

John first appeared on screen as a fresh-faced law student when he competed on GBBO almost ten years ago. 

The then 23-year-old was best known for slicing open his finger on a food processor during a showstopper challenge. 

But he overcame missing out on one episode to make the final of and eventually win the competition 

As part of the final three bakers on the show, John revealed he’d put on weight from eating his own baking creations. 

He said: “Since the start I’ve put on a stone. If you’re baking full-time, you need to hit the gym 24 /7.” 

After leaving the show, John decided to ditch his job in a bank’s graduate scheme and follow his love of cooking. 

Instead, he studied a pâtisserie at posh cookery school Le Cordon Bleu where courses now cost up to £18,578. 

Soon, John landed telly presenting spots on Lorraine, Chopping Block and since last year Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4 with Steph McGovern.

In 2015, he opened his own cookery school on his family’s 400-acre farm in Wrightington, Lancs.

Body issues and eating disorders

He has penned four cookery books including A Flash in the Pan which was released in 2019.

Since the show, John has amassed an estimated fortune of £600,000.

But while his career has flourished, John revealed he had been dealing with body issues and an eating disorder since he was a teen.

Yet the chef only realised in 2019 he had a problem with bulimia when he opened up to a therapist. 

He said: "Until that point, I just thought it was a slight way of coping with overeating, I didn't think it was a huge problem."

He added: “I've only really accepted it as an eating disorder in the past 18 months, two years and it's been very, very raw. 

“It's been very, very difficult to overcome and I think that is down to the stigma of an eating disorder.

“Especially as a chef, I didn't really want to talk about it because I felt like it kind of undermined my entire career. 

“How can a chef who writes recipes books and cooks on TV, how can he realistically have bulimia?"

Fled to Canada

Depressed and drinking heavily, John hit a crisis point in 2019 when he became suicidal after work dried up.

He was dropped as resident chef on ITV's Lorraine a year earlier. 

He said: "Addiction to the razzle dazzle came naturally to the youthful me.

"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."

John fled to Canada to work on an organic farm without his fiance graphic designer Paul Atkins for six weeks. 

In May 2019, he posted on Instagram: “This time six months ago, I was on the brink of ending it. 

“I honestly didn’t think I would make it to my 30th birthday. That trip was a huge turning point for me.”

When lockdown hit in 2020, the chef revealed he’d been passing the time with workouts.

He posted a picture to his Instagram with newly bullying thighs and tight bum. 

One cheeky fan responded: "New style of buns today, I see?"

Strictly fitness regime

Appearing on the launch episode of Strictly, John wowed with his newly buff pecs and biceps. 

And the star revealed he’d upped his workout routine in preparation for the gruelling contest.

He told the Press Association: "I’m doing a bit more cardio. 

“I’ve done weightlifting now for years, and I’ve really got into bodybuilding in the past 18 months.

“So I’ve now started to incorporate more stretching and cardio into my routine, and I have been watching what I eat as I want to get more lean.

“I am also shaving my chest, a lot more than I ever did!"

Fans noticed his pumped up guns at the launch of Strictly's 19th series.

And on the show John admitted he welcomed the show’s grooming techniques - especially the fake tanning. 

He joked with Strictly host Tess Daly: “I was spending 25 quid a week on spray tans - that’s why I’m here.”

Strictly's John Whaite and Johannes Radebe meet and become show's first all-male pairing

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