We know her now as the fair but sharp-tounged judge on Channel 4’s Great British Bake Off alongside Paul Hollywood, but there’s a hidden past to cook Prue Leith you probably weren’t aware of.
In her new autobiography, Relish: My Life On A Plate, 77-year-old Prue has spoken candidly about the love of her life – a man who just happened to be the older husband of her mother’s best friend.
In an extract published in the Daily Mail, Prue has divulged the details of her 13-year long affair, revealing how it came about, why it carried on for so long, and how, despite the odds, the couple went on to enjoy a happily married life together.
She reveals, “When I was 21, I fell in love with the man I would go on to marry. There was just one problem – he happened to be the husband of my mother’s best friend.”
Prue then goes on to detail how she first met Rayne, the man she would marry, at just seven years old. Given that her mother Margaret, and Rayne’s wife Nan were best friends, the two families were close, and spent time together in South Africa and London, where Prue moved when she was young.
She also admitted that spending time at their home in Kensington lead to growing feelings for Rayne, given that the two would often be left there alone.
Prue confessed, “I saw more of Rayne than any of the others.
“Being a writer, he worked at home and I would make lunch or supper for him and we’d talk. He was by far the most interesting person I’d ever met.”
But the GBBO judge also admits that she and Nan were exceedingly close – leading to an immense guilt over her feelings for her husband.
She writes, “Betraying the hospitality and love of Nan should have been impossible for me.”
In the excerpt, Prue also reveals the moment that the growing intimacy between her and Rayne finally culminated with their first kiss.
(Prue on this year’s Bake Off)
She wrote, “Then, one evening when we were in the kitchen, he kissed me. I wish I could say I objected, but I didn’t. Guilt about Nan would creep in later, but what I felt at that moment – apart from a leaping desire – was surprise and delight that he considered me kissable; a woman, not a child.
“So began a 13-year affair. I was utterly infatuated.”
But despite her feelings, Prue has also admitted that of course she felt guilt over the illicit affair, and betrayal of a close friend.
“Of course, I realise my affair with Rayne was unforgivable. I believe adultery is wrong, and feel angry with men who betray their wives. I prefer to forget that I encouraged Rayne to do just that: I fell completely, thunderously and irredeemably for the husband of my mother’s best friend.”
“Somehow, I cannot now imagine how, I managed to persuade myself that what we were doing was nothing to do with anyone else. In the age-old excuse of all adulterers, I couldn’t help it.”
The couple eventually ended up together after a brief separation, which lead to Rayne splitting from his long-term wife Nan to be with Prue.
Prue and Rayne went on to have two children together, and the TV chef even revealed that despite everything, she and Rayne’s family, including ex-wife Nan, stayed friendly until her death in 1992.
Rayne himself passed away in 2002, and Prue has since gone on to marry retired designer, John Playfair. The couple wed in 2016.
Prue Leith’s book, Relish: My Life On A Plate, is out on 5th October.