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When Great British Bake Off runner-up Dave Friday proposed to his girlfriend Stacey Valentine on the programme’s spin-off show Extra Slice, he melted the hearts of the nation.
But far from being a spur-of-the-moment decision, the proposal was something Dave had been planning ever since he found out he had got through to the second round of auditions.
“Proposing up the Eiffel Tower has been done, so I wanted to do something that was unique to us,” Dave tells OK! during our exclusive shoot at his and Stacey’s three-bedroom home in Hampshire.
It’s been quite a year for the couple. As well as Dave finishing second on the show and getting engaged, they also welcomed their son Ronnie in October.
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“I never could have expected all this to happen,” adds Dave, who baked a delicious coffee cake for our shoot. “It’s a bit surreal. I have to pinch myself sometimes.”
And following their whirlwind year, the couple, who met on a night out when they were students, are now looking forward to spending their first Christmas together as a family of three, along with their dog Yoki, a Japanese Shiba Inu.
Here, Dave and NHS nurse practitioner Stacey, both 31, exclusively open up about Ronnie’s arrival, their plans for an 11-tier wedding cake, and who from Bake Off will be on their guest list…
Congratulations on your engagement. How long had you been planning to propose on Extra Slice, Dave?
Dave: It still hasn’t sunk in. I’d wanted to propose for a while, but I wanted to think of something that
was unique to us. The idea first came into my head when I went to the Bake Off audition in January. It was Blue Monday [20 January] and I told Stacey that I’d got through to the second round of auditions, and then she told me she was pregnant! When they selected me for the show, I told production I wanted to propose to Stacey on the day I got eliminated. Then lockdown happened and the crew tried to get Stacey to Down Hall in Essex, where we were filming, but because of her being pregnant it just wasn’t possible, so it ended up being on Extra Slice. As soon as I got back from filming on 19 August, I got the ring. I hid it in Stacey’s car most of the time!
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You must have been so nervous before proposing on TV…
Dave: I was a bag of nerves. When I got to Extra Slice I gave the ring to Laura [Adlington, from Bake Off] to look after until it was time. Stacey wasn’t sure about coming, but I kept saying, “You have to come!”
Stacey: I wasn’t feeling nice after Ronnie’s birth. I said I’d wait backstage with Ronnie, so it made sense afterwards why everyone was trying to push me on. I thought it was going to be Dave’s moment, but it ended up being my moment, too!
Dave: It was hard leaving Stacey while she was going into her third trimester, but it ended up being worthwhile – and the proposal did make up for it!
Stacey: I would never have let him turn down the opportunity.
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Did you have any idea Dave was going to propose, Stacey?
Stacey: None. I genuinely thought they were pranking me! It was the biggest surprise I’ve ever had! I completely forgot where I was and that I was on camera. It felt like a dream. I never thought he’d propose on TV, as he knows I’m not one for the limelight, but he’s forgiven because it was so lovely.
Did you worry she might say no, Dave?
Dave: A bit, but we’ve been together for nine years and had talked about getting married. Stacey’s dad proposed through the local TV news, so I had his support.
Bake Off host Matt Lucas was in the studio. Was he in on the plan?
Dave: Yes, and Jo Brand, Tom Allen [Extra Slice hosts] and the crew. It made it more nerve-wracking that so many people knew and had confetti cannons ready. Matt knew because I’d told him my plans earlier in the series. He was really made up for us and is very pleased he was there to witness it. I feel like I made a good connection with him on the show, so I think that’s one of the reasons he was there on Extra Slice.
Emma Bunton was also there!
Stacey: It was amazing. I never thought Baby Spice would be there when I got engaged. I grew up listening to the Spice Girls and told Emma she was a big part of my childhood. She said she loved seeing Ronnie on the show and we ended up chatting about babies and family.
Have Noel Fielding, Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood also congratulated you?
Dave: Noel congratulated us, but not Paul and Prue. Paul’s girlfriend [Melissa] did, though, so I’ll take it that’s from Paul too.
Are the wedding plans well underway?
Stacey: I’m not in a rush, but we’d like to do it in a couple of years. I like the idea of a beach wedding.
Dave: Yes, somewhere coastal, but we’re not sure what country. It could be Newquay, Mexico or California.
Will you be inviting Matt and Noel?
Dave: I will, but I wouldn’t be offended if they said no, because they’re busy and super famous. They probably wouldn’t want the attention! We’d have to tell our friends and family to keep their distance.
What about the other bakers?
Dave: Yes, I’ve also joked about asking each of them to bake a tier of the cake, so we’ll have 11!
Stacey: They are all so diverse with their skills that if they could all bring a bake, it would be an amazing cake – but only if they want to. They’re a lovely group of people. Hermine sent Ronnie a lovely outfit and we’ve had offers to go visit Marc, Laura and Mark.
You spent six weeks living in a bubble to film the show. What was that like, Dave?
Dave: We baked every single day and you had two days between filming. We’d all do different activities like yoga, football and Peter [Sawkins] would play tennis with the production team. The bakers had their own area and then the production and talent had another. Paul wanted to stay impartial, so he kept a professional distance, but he did host two pizza nights for us with his own oven. It was like a bonkers Butlins!
Were you disappointed not to win?
Dave: Not at all. I was really pleased for Peter and I think they made the right decision. People said I was robbed, but he was slightly better than me in the final.
How have you adjusted to parenthood?
Stacey: Really well. Dave had never held a newborn baby before and the midwife had to teach him how to change a nappy, because I was poorly in hospital initially. He was like super-dad when we got home!
Stacey: I ended up with sepsis. My blood pressure dropped and my temperature spiked while I was in labour. My midwife Daisy basically saved my life, because she acted so quickly. They got me into theatre straight away and whipped Ronnie out. I ended up being in hospital for a week. I had to watch Bake Off on my phone and Dave could only visit for three hours a day. All the midwives recognised him!
Dave: Even with a face mask on!
Stacey: The doctor who ended up delivering Ronnie is a massive Bake Off fan so she was really excited! [Laughs]
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Are you looking forward to your first Christmas as a family?
Stacey: Yes, we’re having a quiet one at home. Dave will be making beef Wellington.
Dave: Last year I was building up a portfolio for Bake Off, so I made a profiterole tower, a yule log and cheesecake as well as a beef Wellington.
Stacey: I work in the NHS, so I never usually get a full Christmas off. I had to be protected this year because I was pregnant, but my colleagues have been amazing.
What’s next for you, Dave?
Dave: At the moment my main focus is Ronnie, but I want to do some recipes for a website I’m developing and film some videos for YouTube. I eventually want to make a career out of baking and I’d love to do a book in my own time.
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