Fame ‘changed’ Paul Hollywood as he left wife for barmaid 30 years younger

Paul Hollywood has a reputation as Bake Off’s some fearsome judge, the one to impress in order to receive a coveted “Hollywood handshake”.

But he has a softer side only usually seen by his romantic interests, and once described by his ex-wife Alex Hollywood.

Paul and Alex were married from 1998-2019, and at the start of their relationship, Paul was a devoted husband and family man, who adored baking for his wife.

But landing the role on The Great British Bake Off would transform the low-key family man into a ‘silver fox’ lusted after by thousands of women.

“We fell in love very quickly. Two weeks was all it took — we both knew,” Alex once told the Daily Mail of their first meeting at a luxury hotel in Cyprus where he was head baker and she was a scuba diving instructor.

“Paul was lovely, he made me the most wonderful pastries for breakfast. Show me a woman who doesn’t like chocolate!” she said.

They married in Cyprus and moved back to the UK in 1999 before welcoming son Joshua in 2001.

Paul Hollywood’s tumultuous love life has seen him date two much-younger women he met in the pub



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The pair enjoyed long country walks and cuddling up by the fire together, playing board games and bonding as a tight-knit family of three.

But Alex said the curse of fame changed 55-year-old Paul irrevocably and she would never get her husband back from its clutches.

It had even been her own idea to turn Paul into a TV star after watching Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef.

There was no doubt about Paul’s baking credentials, as his great-great-grandfather had been head baker at Liverpool’s Adelphi Hotel, and his dad owned a popular family bakery.

Despite initially refusing to walk in his father’s footsteps, Paul enrolled at art college and trained to be a sculptor before his dad finally bribed him to join the family business with £500.

Jobs with top hotels and restaurants followed before a Cyprus trip – where he cooked, ate and explored the sun-soaked island on a moped with Alex.

His break then came unexpectedly when a TV crew visited the hotel where they were working to make a show about Cypriot food.

Their marriage crumbled in 2017 – four years after his affair with Marcela Valladolid



Alex said ex-husband Paul’s fame was thanks to her



Spotting an opportunity, Alex immediately told them Paul was their man – and a screen test confirmed she was right.

“They put him in front of a camera and you could just see how brilliant he was. He dominated the screen,” she would later recall.

“After they had finished filming, the production team said to me, ‘He needs to go back to the UK and get an agent.'”

What followed was a gig on Taste’s Use Your Loaf alongside James Martin of future Saturday Kitchen fame, as well as Paul’s first bestselling cookbook, 100 Great Breads.

At first, life continued as normal. He baked Alex her favourite apricot tart, whisked her off on surprise trips to Rome and enjoyed cosy Sunday lunches with his family.

To Alex – at that point – his newfound sex symbol status gave her no cause for concern.

“I felt very secure with Paul. I trusted him completely. I loved him and he loved me. We were happy and life was good,” she told the Daily Mail in 2013.

“Paul was the loveliest of husbands and a brilliant father. I used to laugh when people called him a sex symbol because to me he was just my husband. He was the same Paul he’d always been. He was very grounded. Fame didn’t go to his head at all.”

Paul then dated Summer Monteys-Fullam, who worked in his local pub

Summer and Paul split when he tried to forbid her from speaking about their romance



But their idyllic set-up was destroyed in just four and a half weeks when he flew out to the US to shoot an American version of GBBO in February 2013 and embarked on an affair with fellow judge and TV chef Marcela Valladolid.

He was reportedly “dazzled” by his co-star, who described him as a “handsome devil”.

After returning to the UK, he promptly moved out of the family home and left Alex heartbroken – claiming there was “no going back”.

Paul confessed: “It’s my fault. I am very sad about what has happened. I do feel very sad about it and what it brought on the family.”

By October, he and Alex were beginning fresh talks about reconciling for the sake of their son after he admitted publicly to the affair.

“I did have an affair in America with my co-judge and it was the biggest mistake of my life because actually I still love my wife,” he said.

But Alex’s heart was to be broken again when Paul started dating then-23-year-old barmaid Summer Monteys-Fullam soon after their marriage disintegrated for a second time.

For Alex, it was the last straw, with a source telling The Sun she had “given up” on their relationship because the trust had “totally gone”.

“She feels fame has changed him. He’s not the same man she fell for all those years ago,” said the insider.

Paul’s son Joshua was said to be so hurt, the pair did not speak for at least two years after the divorce, with Alex claiming in 2019 that Paul hadn’t spoken to his “deeply distressed” son since 2017.

Paul is currently dating Melissa Spalding, and he whisked her off on holiday



It was reported Paul lavished Summer with designer clothes, horses, jewellery and even a car, and she insisted their 30-year age gap “wasn’t a problem” because “age is nothing but a number”.

But Summer dumped Paul on the spot when he tried to get her to sign a gagging order forbidding her from speaking about their relationship – even to her friends and family.

A furious Summer was said to have expected a proposal, not an NDA, and trashed Paul on Instagram, telling her followers he “couldn’t bake” and “ate Rice Krispies most evenings”.

Meanwhile, Paul took blistering jabs at Summer on social media where he accused her of setting up pictures with the paparazzi, and it was reported he refused to let her return to his £1million home to collect some of her belongings.

“My silence on any matters is not a sign of weakness or agreement of what’s been said, merely I prefer a quiet life away from my day job!” he fumed on Instagram in the wake of the split.

“Take what’s read with a pinch of salt and read between the lines. I know the public can’t be duped into believing what’s out there from a person making money selling stories! and continuously courting the paps…

“There’s always two sides to a story you’ve only heard one… but alas I don’t play those games.”

Paul with fellow Bake Off judge Prue Leith, and host Noel Fielding



But Summer claimed these allegations were completely untrue, denying she had ever courted publicity over their relationship and threatening to sue Paul.

“I am very disappointed and distressed by false and highly defamatory statements that Paul has made about me online since our break-up,” she wrote.

“I have had no alternative but to instruct my solicitors Brett Wilson LLP to pursue legal proceedings against Paul in order to obtain vindication.

“I have never courted publicity over my relationship with Paul and I am deeply disappointed that our relationship has ended in this way.”

Just months later, Paul was in love with another younger bartender – Mellisa Spalding.

Paul reportedly fell for Melissa after drinking in her boozer not far from his countryside home – before striking up a romance with the landlady, who moved into his home over lockdown.

Earlier this month, Paul reportedly whisked Melissa away to Paphos, Cyprus – a place he also took exes Alex and Summer.

Sources have told The Sun that the couple are “happier than they’ve ever been” and are going to enjoy their trip abroad after a “really busy few months”.

The source added: “Paul’s been flat out on Bake Off while Mel has her hands full running a pub so they’ve earned some rest and relaxation.

“Paul’s happier than he’s been in years and Mel’s a major part of that.”

While Paul’s womanising antics have turned some Bake Off fans off of him, he wants you to remember it’s all part of his “character” and viewers don’t know the real him.

“Fame brings its own demons with it,” he told the Radio Times.

“You have to block yourself off; split yourself from the guy off the telly that everybody thinks they know, the Paul Hollywood who is the pantomime villain, that everyone, when he walks on, goes, ‘Boooo’.

“I get that, and I get why – because I’m a tough character.”

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