For many of us, 2016 signified a huge transformation in one of the things we know and love; The Great British Bake Off. Changes were made, promises were broken and at the end of it all we were left with a soggy-bottomed hole in our lives.
One of the most important changes involved the replacement of our beloved Mary Berry, who said she was staying loyal to the BBC and wouldn't be moving to Channel 4. Prue Leith was announced as her successor, a decision which has caused quite a bit of controversy. Mary has captured the nation's heart with her hilarious reactions and innuendos, amazing culinary skills and just generally by being the queen of all things baking. While many of our relatives have grown up with her, our generation hasn't been so lucky, so have you ever wondered what her life was like before Bake Off?
Mary-Rosa Alleyne Berry was born on 24th March 1935 in Bath, and is the second child of three children. At the age of 13, she contracted polio, and had to spend quite a lot of time, three months to be exact, in hospital away from her family. This resulted in her having a twisted spine, a thinner left arm and a weaker left hand. She's previously said that certain events in her life, such as dealing with the disease, have shaped her to become the person she is now, which is why she dislikes it when GBBO contestants are tearful or upset.
At high school, Mary didn't really believe she excelled at anything until she attended domestic science classes, where she was encouraged to develop her cooking skills - who knew she'd become the culinary goddess we know and love today?! She then went on to study catering and institutional management at Bath College of Domestic Science.
Although destined for great things, Mary started her career in an electricity board showroom, before she graduated to home visits, where she would show customers in the Bath area how to use their electric ovens. A trick of hers would be to make a Victoria sponge to show the new owners their piece of kit, a technique she later took to TV studios to get to grips with ovens she hadn't used before. She moved out of the family home at 21 after being given a job at the Dutch Dairy Bureau, while studying in the evenings to further her skill set, and managed to persuade her manager to send her to France to gain a professional qualification from Le Cordon Bleu school. After a stint in France, she became a recipe tester for Benson's, and began working on her first book.
She became the food editor for Housewife magazine in 1966, the same year she got married to her husband Paul, and only took off five weeks each time she had a child for fear of losing her position. She then moved on to become food editor of Ideal Home magazine in the early seventies.
Her first taste of stardom came in 1970, when she released her first book, The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook. Mary's written 75 books throughout her career and sold over five million copies, so we doubt she'll be slowing down anytime soon!
Sadly, in 1989, tragedy struck as one of Mary's children was involved in a car accident. William passed away at age 19, and his death inspired Mary to become a patron of Child Bereavement UK. He is survived by his brother Thomas and sister Annabel.
In 1994, she released a product range with her daughter, which is still sold internationally today and features everything from sauces to cake tins, as well as mugs and oven gloves.
Her first television appearance took place in 1971, on a show called Collector's World, and since then there has rarely been a year she hasn't been involved in some kind of programme. Her first self-titled series came in the form of Mary Berry's Ultimate Cakes in 1994, followed by Mary Berry at Home in 1997. She then spent her time on a number of cameo and presenting roles, until 2010 when she joined The Great British Bake Off, and the duo that is Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry was formed.
They've had some brilliant times over the years, but sadly in 2016 their on-screen partnership came to an end as Channel 4 announced they'd be taking over GBBO, and that Paul Hollywood would be going with them. Mary revealed recently that she was "never asked" to go to Channel 4, but that she would have always stayed loyal to the BBC.
2017 has started with a bang despite losing one of the biggest gigs of her career, as her most recent series titled Mary Berry Everyday has been a huge hit with fans. We've already seen her adding some rather controversial ingredients into her dishes, as well as admitting she'd never actually ordered a takeaway pizza. We can definitely teach you the ways Maz Bez!
Her incredible career has earned her a wealth of awards, including being appointed CBE in 2012. She received an honourary degree from Bath Spa University for her achievements in the same year, and has been awarded the Freedom of the City of Bath and the Freedom of the City of London. In 2014, she was recognised by the Worshipful Company of Bakers and in the same year, she received a National Book Award. At this year's NTAs, she was given the Best TV Judge award. Quite a shelf she's building for herself!
Mary has made a name for herself in the food industry and entertainment world by working her arse off, grabbing every opportunity possible and by just being herself. We think she's an absolute rockstar, and we can't wait to see what she does next.
Featured Image Credit: PA