The untold truth of Noel Fielding from The Great British Bake Off

Long one of the U.K.'s most popular TV hits, The Great British Bake Off went through some big changes in 2016 when the show moved from BBC to Channel 4, a competing network. GBBO veterans Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins, and Mary Berry all left the show, leaving Paul Hollywood as the only member of the original crew to remain. 

Replacements were hired: broadcaster and politician Sandi Toksvig; chef and restaurateur Prue Leith; and eccentric comedian Noel Fielding, whose hiring seemed to come out of left field to many fans. However, Fielding wound up becoming the show's secret weapon, bringing a quirky, gleeful energy that re-energized the series and left viewers more entertained than ever. As a review in Britain's venerable Radio Times pointed out, "He was supposed to be dreadful, but Noel Fielding has turned out to be a true delight."

Now, fans of the show may be looking back and wondering how they ever managed to enjoy GBBO without him. Even though he's been a fixture on British television for more than a decade, there's much about the goth-inspired comedian that viewers may not know about him. Read on to discover the untold truth of Noel Fielding.

Noel Fielding starred in a cult-hit U.K. sketch comedy show

Long before he became a TV sensation for judging baked goods on The Great British Bake Off, Noel Fielding was best known as a member of the British comedy troupe The Mighty Boosh. It all began in the late 1990s, noted The Guardian, when Fielding met fellow comedian Julian Barrett while they were booked on the same bill at a London pub. Deciding to work together, the pair first brought their weird, eccentric brand of comedy to BBC's Radio 4. It wasn't until comedian Steve Coogan — who'd become a fan — footed the bill to pay for the costs of shooting a pilot that The Mighty Boosh became a TV series.

A glam-rock Monty Python's Flying Circus set in the world's oddest zoo, The Mighty Boosh was far from mainstream entertainment, yet became a cult hit. A review in CinemaBlend lauded the show for reinventing "the idea of 'silly,'" while Paste magazine explained "the wonderful concept behind The Boosh is that there isn't anything to get. So don't even try."

Fielding offered his own take, via The Guardian, describing the show as a "psychedelic" version of classic Britcom Open All Hours

Noel Fielding's love of cake once got him fired

As anyone who's ever watched Noel Fielding on The Great British Bake Off will attest, he does enjoy a nice piece of cake. According to a hilarious anecdote from his youth, that affection for cake once cost him a job. 

Asked in an interview with The Guardian to reveal the "worst job" he ever held, Fielding made the revelation. "When I was 14, I had a job in a cake shop. I got caught by the boss, lying down eating cake, and was sacked on my first day," he explained (and backed up in a TV appearance, confirming "the boss went off" upon discovering the new employee "lying down eating cakes."

Meanwhile, there may be a genetic reason behind Fielding's appreciation of baked goods. According to The Express, Fielding's paternal great-grandfather, William George Fielding, was employed as a "packer in a biscuit factory" in London back in 1911. Given the timing, noted The Express, it was likely that the comedian's forebear worked for Peak Freans in south London, which was then the largest manufacturer of cookies and biscuits in the city, nicknamed by locals as "Biscuit Town."

Noel Fielding is also an accomplished artist

Fans who know Noel Fielding from The Great British Bake Off or via his comedic adventures on The Mighty Boosh may not be aware that he's also an acclaimed artist. In fact, Fielding's paintings have graced the walls of numerous galleries, and fetch a pretty penny

According to a bio at Hooligan Art Dealer, which reps his work, Fielding's first solo show, held at London's Gallery Maison Bertaux — titled "Psychedelic Dreams of The Jelly Fox" — was sold out. Indeed, among those who collect his paintings are artist Keith Tyson and legendary Beatles drummer Ringo Starr

In a video in which he takes viewers on a tour of his art studio, Fielding explained his artistic process, which starts when "I blank my mind out completely ... literally no concept." According to Fielding, he simply starts scribbling, and "it always starts to take on some human or animal or ..." he said, interrupting himself to showcase a painting of 1980s video game Pac-Man, admitting that one was "self-explanatory."

Noel Fielding dressed in drag to channel Kate Bush for a TV dance performance

Fans of The Mighty Boosh have witnessed Noel Fielding do some pretty weird stuff (who can forget the hilariously bizarre "Old Greg" sketch?), but it's safe to say that he topped himself when he hit the stage for the 2011 Let's Dance for Comedy Relief charity competition.

For his performance, which aptly combined dance and comedy, he delivered a move-for-move recreation of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" music video. Not only was Fielding wearing a wig that approximated the singer's hairstyle circa 1978, he even sported a replica of the diaphanous red dress she wore while cavorting in the woods.

Later that same year, Fielding made an appearance in one of Bush's videos. Fielding and Harry Potter actor Robbie Coltrane appear together in a very strange scene in her 2011 video for "Deeper Understanding," in which Coltrane's deranged character literally strangles Fielding to death, grabbing him by the throat and pinning him to a wall.

Noel Fielding's joke about avoiding sugar created an unexpected uproar

How can someone profess to be avoiding sugar while starring in a televised contest in which competitors bake the sweetest confections in all of Britain? That's what fans of The Great British Bake Off couldn't help but wonder when they read an introductory interview with the show's new on-air team in a 2017 edition of The Times.

"Sugar is a powerful thing, I get more work when I'm thinner. So I can't put on weight. No one likes a tubby goth, is what I'm saying," said Fielding in the feature, instantly outraging fans of a television show that is literally a celebration of sugar.

After being hit by backlash by cake-loving fans on social media, Fielding took to Twitter to clarify his unwittingly controversial statement. "What I actually said (as a joke) in the Sunday Times was 'nobody likes a tubby goth' I was taking the piss out of myself," he wrote in a tweet that he later deleted (but was reported by HuffPost), adding, "I love cake."

Some rock band merch Noel Fielding wore for one episode made the Internet go nuts

Along with his hilarious comments and the quirky way he says "Get set," fans of The Great British Bake Off have become seriously enamored of the unique and unusual shirts Noel Fielding wears on the show. 

One in particular really struck a chord with viewers: a vintage "jumper" (a.k.a. a sweater) from 1990s alt-rock band Dinosaur Jr., featuring the cover art from the group's 1994 album Without a Sound. For whatever reason, that shirt led to a tsunami of Twitter love for Fielding as fans took to social media in droves to express their admiration for the shirt. "Noel Fielding repping the Dinosaur Jr. jumper, he truly is my sweet prince," wrote one viewer, while another opined that despite who was declared the victor in that episode, "the real winner is Noel Fielding's Dinosaur Jr. jumper."

For anyone looking to duplicate Fielding's sartorial choice, be prepared to spend some time and money; Decider tracked down one of the shirts on Etsy (no longer available, unfortunately), where it was offered for the not-so-low price of $355.

Noel Fielding was nearly arrested breaking into comedian Russell Brand's house

A boozy evening in Los Angeles came to an inauspicious conclusion for The Great British Bake Off's Noel Fielding, following a night of drinking with a member of seminal punk band The Sex Pistols. "I was staying at Russell Brand's house. He had 50 Cent's house. That was where he was living," Fielding explained in an interview with Scotland's The Herald.

"I had no keys," Fielding continued, which led him to climb over the fence. "It was an electric fence and the alarm went off and I was like, 'F***, this isn't going well.' And the next thing there's a beam on my head and a policeman telling me, 'Sir, get off the fence.'"

Fielding informed the officer that he was staying with Brand. "He said, 'Of course you are, sir. I'll escort you in now.” He took one look at me and said, 'He's not lying. If you think a thief in L.A. would dress like that ...'"

Noel Fielding used to hang out with Amy Winehouse

These days, Noel Fielding is happily hosting The Great British Bake Off and reveling in domestic bliss after he and wife Lliana Bird welcomed their second child in October 2020. In fact, Fielding would be the first to admit that his life is far different than the wild days of his youth. 

In an interview with The New York Times, Fielding recalled those years, when he ran with a crowd that included singer Amy Winehouse. "I used to hang out with her," he said of the "Rehab" singer, who tragically died of a drug overdose at age 27 back in 2011. "It's so sad. God, if I'd died at 27, I would have missed out on so much."

Those hard-partying days are light-years from the life he went on to lead, and he wouldn't have it any other way. "It kind of gets better as you get older, in a weird way," he said of aging, recalling those days as "all crazy and fast. It reminds me of a different person really."

The strange reason Noel Fielding's audition for The Great British Baking Show took place in a garden center

Some fans of the show were uncertain about the addition of avant-garde comedian Noel Fielding to The Great British Bake Off — and that included the show's producers. In fact, Fielding revealed in an interview with The Express, this led to a very unorthodox audition in order to prove he'd be right for the time-tested U.K. television hit.

"One of my tests for the show was to go into a garden centre and chat to people," Fielding said, explaining that there was some trepidation about his basic lack of baking knowledge and how he'd fare when conversing with contestants. "At the end of the test, they were like, 'You've got to stop now, we've got to finish, it's dark,'" he recalled. "I'd made friends with two ladies, it was brilliant."

Fielding also respects The Great British Bake Off and its format enough to tailor his comedic impulses to suit the show, and not vice-versa. "You can't push your vision onto something that already has a tone," he told The New York Times, "you have to respect the tone."

Why The Great British Baking Show is the 'realest' job Noel Fielding's ever had

Becoming a part of a television institution such as The Great British Bake Off team is something that Noel Fielding never could have conceived of during his Mighty Boosh days, and sees that as part of an evolution toward maturity. He's admitted to being "a bit of a Peter Pan character," and told The New York Times that The Great British Bake Off has been "the realest job I've ever had."

If Fielding was surprised by how well he fit into the show, this was also the case with viewers. "Far from being the odd addition to the mix, his quips, asides and bizarre references have become the best bits of Bake Off, the nuggets you turn the volume up for and rewind if you miss," a review in Radio Times declared of Fielding. "Bake Off never took itself seriously, but who knew you could handle heaps more irreverence and silliness and still produce such entertaining results?"

Fans flipped out when they Googled Noel Fielding's age

A November 2020 episode of The Great British Bake Off celebrated the 1980s, reported Digital Spy. This somehow led Noel Fielding and co-star Matt Lucas to joke about a vintage British TV show from that decade that likely soared over the heads of the show's younger viewers. "That joke only works if you're over 45," cracked Lucas, which apparently sent viewers rushing to Google en masse, discovering that Fielding was 47 years old.

Fans were seemingly rocked by this information, and took to social media to express their shock that Fielding was far older than they'd imagined he was. "Finding out Noel Fielding is 47 had shaken me to the core. I though he was late 20s or early 30s this feels wrong," read one tweet, while another inquired about what skin-care products he used to remain looking so "flawless." Added a different Twitter user, "Goths truly don't age."

Noel Fielding loves Motörhead but not Coldplay

For loyal viewers of The Great British Bake Off, it shouldn't be surprising that Noel Fielding's taste in music is as quirky and eclectic as his comedy. Fielding proved that when he revealed the "10 albums that changed by life" to Metal Hammer. Among Fielding's faves are the KISS classic Destroyer and two Motörhead albums, Bomber and Ace of Spades

Oddly enough, Fielding's list also includes an album that he absolutely loathes, Coldplay's X & Y. Then again, according to Fielding, all the band's albums would fit that bill. "I get a lot of energy out of music. I want to get pumped up. I love bands that are visual too, so Coldplay fail on all counts," he explained. "You never see Chris Martin and think, 'Ooh, I must get that [sweater]!'"

The album in his collection that he thinks would surprise most people is ABBA's Arrival. "I've got a few ABBA records," he said of the Swedish quartet. "People say, 'Why have you got that?' I just like a nice cry when I'm on my own sometimes. They make me cry and then they make me feel better."

Noel Fielding's baffled that his fanbase is so much younger than he is

While viewers of The Great British Bake Off may have been surprised when they learned that Noel Fielding was in his late 40s, he admitted he's just as surprised that his fans are so much younger than he is.

"I do get a lot of young people, weirdly, I don't know why, but young people seem to like what I do," he mused in an interview with The Music. "Maybe young people are quite interested in more conceptual, fantastical stuff. I don't know why, maybe when you get older you want your own life sort of reflected back at you to prove that you're alive."

Fielding also discussed an odd phenomenon he'd been witnessing during a comedy tour. "As I'm getting older my audience are staying the same age, they are quite young," he explained. "It's like a science-fiction film where I get older and no one else ages. I'll be like 80, and my fans will still be 17, it'll be really weird."

Noel Fielding choked up viewers with his sweet farewell to Sandi Toksvig

One of the most unexpected pleasures to emerge when Noel Fielding joined The Great British Bake Off was his hilarious rapport with co-star Sandi Toksvig. When she announced in January 2020 that she'd be leaving the show, Fielding shared some sweet sentiments on Instagram. 

"Good double acts are a rare and magical beast! I'm gonna miss Sandi comically and personally ..." he wrote in the caption accompanying an image of cartoon duo Tom and Jerry. In a followup, he compared their unique chemistry to that between The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. "I feel like Tom without Jerry! Mick without Keef! I'm gonna miss you Sandi and our strange and magical double act. It's been a joy to hang out and muck about in the Tent with you," he wrote.

Prior to her departure, Toksvig and Fielding particpated in BuzzFeed's "BFF Test" to see how well they really knew each other, with each asked the same question and then writing down their answers. One question sparked an interesting response, asking them to recall what they thought when they first met each other. Fielding wrote, "True love," while Toksvig's response sent him into hysterics: "Empty-headed but charming."