The Great British Bake Off



Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins (2010-16)

Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding (2017-)

Junior Bake Off:
Aaron Craze (2011-13)
Sam and Mark (2015-16)
Harry Hill (2019-)

The Great Sport/Comic Relief Bake Off:
Mel Giedroyc (2012-13)
Guest hosts (in order, but not including repeat performances): Sue Perkins, Jo Brand, Omid Djalili, Ed Byrne, Mel Giedroyc, Jennifer Saunders, Sarah Millican (2014-16)
Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding (2018-)

Bake Off: Crème de la Crème/The Professionals:
Tom Kerridge (2016)
Angus Deayton (2017)
Tom Allen and Liam Charles (2018-)


Paul Hollywood
Mary Berry (2010-16)
Prue Leith (2017-)

Junior Bake Off:
Paul Hollywood (2011)
Mary Berry (2011-13)
James Martin (2013)
Graham Hornigold (2015)
Allegra McEvedy (2015-6)
Nadiya Hussain (2016)
Prue Leith (2019-)
Liam Charles (2019-)

Bake Off: Crème de la Crème/The Professionals:
Benoit Blin
Cherish Finden
Claire Clark (2016)

Voiceover: Stephen Noonan (2010 series, 2011 Wedding Cake special)

BBC Two coverage (The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice):
Jo Brand
Sarah Millican (one edition only, 2015)
Tom Allen (regular guest, 2018-)


Love Productions for BBC Two, 17 August 2010 to 17 December 2013 (34 episodes in 4 series + 16 specials)

Love Productions for BBC One, 6 August 2014 to 26 December 2016 (30 episodes in 3 series + 13 specials)

Love Productions for Channel 4, 29 August 2017 to present

The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice:

Love Productions for BBC Two, 8 August 2014 to 28 October 2016 (30 episodes in 3 series + 1 special)

Love Productions for Channel 4, 31 August 2017 to present

Junior Bake Off:

Love Productions for CBBC, 31 October 2011 to 25 November 2016 (58 episodes in 4 series)

Love Productions for Channel 4, 2019 to present

The Great Sport Relief/Comic Relief/Stand Up to Cancer Bake Off:

Love Productions for BBC Two, 10 January 2012 to 16 January 2014 (12 episodes in 3 series)

Love Productions for BBC One, 11 February 2015 to 24 February 2016 (8 episodes in 2 series)

Love Productions for Channel 4, 6 March 2018 to present

Bake Off: Crème de la Crème/The Professionals:

Love Productions for BBC Two, 29 March 2016 to 31 May 2017 (17 episodes in 2 series)

Love Productions for Channel 4, 6 May 2018 to present


Mel and Sue host as ten home bakers compete in a nationwide baking contest. Each week sees the home bakers set three challenges designed to test a particular baking discipline. The home baker judged the best at the end of the series wins the title of Britain's best amateur baker. (What sort of a title is that? "Awesome Baker of the Year", that's a title.)

Sue and Mel, with judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood

Each of the six weeks tests a different area of baking, and takes place in a different location. Each week there are three rounds. The first is the signature bake, which is essentially a free choice for each contestant (or 'baker', as they're more generally called) to dazzle the judges with their favourite recipe. Then there's the technical bake, in which all the contestants have to make the same thing, from one of the judges' own recipes (though they're not given the complete method, so have to fill in the blanks from their own experience and preference). And then there's the final challenge (since 2011, the showstopper challenge), which originally required each contestant to produce several varieties of a given thing (e.g. bread rolls or small cakes), in batches, though nowadays that task is usually featured in one of the other rounds and the showstopper is, as the name suggests, one big spectacular thing instead.

Contestants Ruth and Jas, hard at work

In each of the first two weeks, two contestants were eliminated at the end, then one was eliminated each week until the final. The elongated second series was a straight one-goes-each-week process.

Contestant Annetha looks worried - as well she might, as she was about to be eliminated

In between the bouts of baking, Mel and Sue presented (separately) inserts about the history of baking. Don't expect all of these to make it into the commercial TV edits, even though they did manage to get some historians we vaguely recognise (like Kate Williams and Matthew Sweet) to contribute. Possibly the strangest contribution was the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes showing off "the world's most expensive biscuit" - the one that Robert Falcon Scott didn't live long enough to eat, which Fiennes paid £4000 for at auction.

Four grand for that?!

So what did we think of the show overall? Frankly, at times it felt a bit half-baked. For one thing, why reunite a comedy duo and then give them almost no opportunity to interact? Also, an issue regarding the two judges: why did Paul Hollywood nearly always manage to overrule Mary Berry during the judging-process? While Hollywood's knowledge and ability as a master baker are certainly not in doubt, it often seemed ridiculous that Berry's equally intelligent and well-informed (and from a rather different, and equally important, angle) opinions appeared to have little or no influence in the decisions regarding who should stay and who should go - surely it should have been more of a two-way process?

Mel and Sue with some lovely cakes

And was it really necessary to make the contestants trek up and down the country like that? While the travelling aspect sometimes gave Mel and Sue a hook for their inserts on food history, it mostly seemed like the itinerary had been thrown together just for the sake of a few bad puns. Pastry in Cornwall (where the contestants were indeed asked to make Cornish pasties), fair enough. Puddings in Bakewell, OK. Bread in Sandwich was rather more contrived, considering that not only did he not invent it, but the Earl commemorated in the snack had only a nominal connection to the town and was actually from Northampton. Which means the town of Sandwich has about as much to do with the lunchtime staple as a Moray coastal town has with William G. Stewart's favourite Greek frieze. As for scones in Scone, don't get us started. On the positive side, it did mean that for once, when contestants said they'd been on A Journey, they really had.

The marquee in Scone. Notice complete lack of onlookers.

If there was any intention that the contest being "on tour" would draw crowds of onlookers (and the open-sided marquee was clearly an invitation), it didn't really work due to the tent generally being pitched in various picturesque but out-of-the-way locations. They only really drew a crowd in Bakewell, the one place where the marquee went up in the town centre.

Mind you, the scenery was quite nice. Here's the final four, taking a teabreak in Mousehole, Cornwall.

Still, for all its faults, the series turned out remarkably well. There was a lot of camaraderie between the contestants, Mel and Sue were as likeable as ever (even if they never really got the opportunity to display the comedy skills that made them famous), and you could even learn a lot (no actual recipes - though many of them can be found online, on the official site or on the contestants' own blogs - but plenty of helpful tips).

Paul Hollywood holds court

Like good baking, it was a show that left us satisfied, but not exactly hungry for more. However, what initially appeared to be a one-shot summer filler has turned out to be a surprise hit (regularly topping BBC Two's weekly ratings), leading to a longer second series (eight weeks rather than six) with a number of subtle but positive tweaks, dropping the touring aspect and the separate voiceover, giving Mel and Sue a bit more space to do their thing, and - so far as we can tell - evening out the power balance between Berry and Hollywood. Which pretty much answers all of our original criticisms, so hats off to those responsible.

By 2013, the show was not just consistently the top-rated show on BBC Two, but was out-rating almost everything on BBC One as well (the final also notoriously outrated The X Factor that week). It was with a certain sense of inevitability that, two weeks from the end of the fourth series, it was announced that the show would be moving to its flagship channel BBC1 in 2014, with a spin-off show An Extra Slice taking up its BBC2 spotlight.

On BBC1, Bake Off grew from "huge" to "massive": a quarter of the country watched the show, week after week. Never mind the soaps, forget the football, Bake Off was the cultural glue to hold the nation together until 12 September 2016, when Love Productions announced they were taking the format to Channel 4. All hell broke loose: claims that Love Productions were only interested in the money, Mel and Sue saying that they "would not follow the dough", and millions of unsettled viewers. Berry also opted to stay with the BBC; however, Hollywood did opt to move with the show. His new co-judge is Prue Leith, with Mel and Sue being replaced by Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.

Did the move to Channel 4 prove the unmitigated disaster that many predicted? Actually, surprisingly or otherwise, no, it's been a great success. OK, we still miss Berry and Mel and Sue a little, but Leith has proved a more than worthy successor to Berry (the latter, incidentally, revealed in an interview that she herself would have chosen Leith to succeed her). Toksvig and Fielding are as entertaining as Mel and Sue (Fielding is especially wacky and offbeat, and we don't just mean his shirts) and Hollywood is still, well, Hollywood. Perhaps the only real jarring note is that we now get commercial breaks, but at least they're well-timed throughout the programme and don't interrupt its flow too much. Of course it's still better to watch the show on record and fast forward through the breaks, but even that's less frustrating than it would usually be. Normally, you'd have previews and recaps either side of a break, but not here - they just cut to ads at a convenient point and pick up four minutes later where they left off, no teasers, no repetition. So well done to all concerned; it's still the show we know and love, and will hopefully continue in this vein.

Mel and Sue predict the show's future by being shocked at the what the viewing figures for the opening episode are going to be.

Junior Bake Off

The show has proven such a success that this junior version effectively replaced Junior MasterChef in 2011. The series structure is closer to Junior Masterchef than adult Bake Off, with heats involving four children competing in two rounds. The first is almost exactly the same as MasterChef's "Classic Recipe Test", using one of either Berry or Hollywood's favourite recipes (jammy shortbread in the second edition), and this is followed with a creative bake in which the children are asked to produce a cake based on a certain theme (outer space was the first one and chocolate the second).

The kids have proved both delightful and highly competent bakers, very competitive, yet also happy to enjoy the experience and with the all-important 'winning's a bonus' attitude. Berry and Hollywood have also adapted admirably to the new set-up, never talking down to the kids, and the latter's far less acerbic than usual, as is only right. New host Aaron Craze, an alumnus of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen training scheme, is also good with the kids, if perhaps a little gung-ho in his approach, but that's generally OK. He also originally presented some short historical/modern day inserts relevant to the theme of the day, similar to those that Mel and Sue do on the adult version, but these seem to have been dropped in the second series. Also missing from the second run is Paul Hollywood, replaced by James Martin.

It was all change for the next series, in which Craze was replaced by Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes, and Berry and Martin by Allegra McEvedy and Graham Hornigold. Then, in 2016, the previous year's main Bake Off champion Nadiya Hussein replaced Hornigold; pleasingly so, as Hussein was very kind and natural with the children and had an excellent rapport with McEvedy. Let's hope they'll remain as the judges on the Junior series, at least for the foreseeable future.

James Martin, Mary Berry and host Aaron Craze (off in some Proustian reverie).

Overall, another very enjoyable version of the show, and nice to keep it going for longer in the year. We're glad it's lasted for several series and hope it'll continue, even if Junior MasterChef doesn't seem to have lasted so well - although the fact that the latter show has lasted 3 series is certainly respectable.

Crème de la Crème

They've done regular shows, they've done children's shows, they've done celebrity editions. The final part of the quadrant is professional cooks, as tested on Bake Off: Crème de la Crème. It was professional, it was done in proper kitchens, the baking was high quality, but the series felt a little off-kilter. Not as much feel-good bonhomie, despite host Tom Kerridge's best efforts.

One obvious difference was that the show concentrated solely on patisserie; no bread, no pies, not even big celebration cakes, just dainty small cakes. There's nothing wrong with testing specialists, but it did mean the series came across as lacking in variety compared to the parent show. The overly technical nature of the challenges, along with simple omissions like failing to take a few seconds to explain what a dacquoise, bavarois, streusel or feuilletine is, made it less accessible to the average viewer. All in all, the series just didn't feel like it belonged under the Bake Off umbrella - or tent, if you prefer.

As if to emphasise its distinctive nature, Crème de la Crème remained on the BBC when other tent-based shows decamped. Comedian Angus Deayton took control of the second series. Early indications are that, like GBBO itself, the second series is going to address a lot of the issues that dogged the first, so it may yet come good. In 2018, Deayton was replaced as host by 2017 regular 'Bake Off' semi-finalist Liam Charles and comedian Tom Allen.


Winners of the main series:

2010 Edd Kimber
2011 Jo Wheatley
2012 John Whaite
2013 Frances Quinn
2014 Nancy Birtwhistle
2015 Nadiya Hussain
2016 Candice Brown
2017 Sophie Faldo
2018 Rahul Mandal

Junior Bake Off

2011 Freya Watson
2013 Harry Duffy
2015 Amari Koryang
2016 Nikki Christou

Celebrity series

2012Anita Rani
2015Victoria Wood

Crème de la Crème

2016Squires Kitchen International School: Mark Tilling, Helen Vass, Samantha Rain
2017Combined Services Culinary Arts Team: Liam Grime, Ian Mark, Chris Morrell

Christmas specials

Mary-Anne Boermansoriginally from Series 2
Chetna MakanSeries 5


The Great Sport Relief/Comic Relief/Stand Up to Cancer Bake Off

Each show's winner is listed first and in bold type.


  • Angela Griffin, James Wong, Joe Swift, Sarah Hadland
  • Fi Glover, Gus Casely-Hayford, Saira Khan, Arlene Phillips
  • Anita Rani, Alex Deakin, Alex Langlands, Pearl Lowe


Ellie Simmonds and Kirsty Wark were named joint winners of their show.




  • Samantha Cameron, Maddy Hill, David James, Jason Manford
  • Kimberley Walsh, Ed Balls, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Chris Kamara
  • Geri Horner, Jermaine Jenas, Louise Redknapp, John Simpson
  • Ade Edmondson, Alison Steadman, Morgana Robinson, Will Young



* - Big Narstie withdrew halfway through the episode due to an illness. He was replaced by Sandi Toksvig.

Key moments

Eventual champion John's injury during the strudel challenge in Series 3, which led to him being taken off to hospital, and nobody being eliminated that week. "He had a blood glove!"

Is there a doctor in the marquee? An injured John Whaite receives medical attention from fellow contestant Danny Bryden, a hospital consultant.

Another moment in Series 3, when Mel tried to play spillikins with a contestant's breadsticks - much to Hollywood's annoyance.

The incident in Series 4 when Deborah accidentally used Howard's custard to make a trifle and Sue's resulting (and frankly rather irritating) comments, along the lines of, "This is either a dreadful mistake or a case of baking espionage..." and, "...Should we put her into custardy?" Howard, for his part, was very kind and understanding over the whole business - and, as it happened, Deborah was eliminated that week, partly as a result of the incident. The incident was dubbed "custardgate" by the press, similar to the even more infamous "bingate" incident (see below).

Another moment in Series 4. The challenge: build a tower of biscuits at least 30cm high. Mel tried to measure Frances' biscuit tower, but the pile tottered over and partially collapsed. For judging, Mel supported the tower by literally holding it up. Frances would survive the week, and later won the series.

The "bingate" incident with Iain's Baked Alaska in Series 5. Iain was eliminated as a result of the incident, since he had nothing to present to the judges, while fellow-contestant Diana, who had inadvertently used the former's ice cream, left the following week due to illness and no one was eliminated on that occasion.

Thank god Gordon Ramsay wasn't there to witness it.

There was also the incident in the 2018 Grand Final, in which one of Rahul's storage jars exploded, apparently due to the considerable heat. As a result, the production team had to be called in and were obliged to remove virtually all the ingredients he had hitherto prepared, on the grounds that they may all have contained glass, such had been the extent of the explosion. Leith and Hollywood quite rightly allowed Rahul an extra 15 minutes, as that was the amount of time he had lost due to the incident and its aftermath, and he went on to win the series.

Further to the above, the 2018 final also featured a Technical Challenge in which all 3 contestants had to step outside the tent and cook a batch of pitta breads over an open fire; they also had to make some appropriate dips. Quite a challenge for all concerned, especially as it was such a hot day, and the first time to date that any challenge had been carried out other than in the tent. Furthermore, it was very reminiscent of Masterchef, in which very similar challenges are frequently de rigeur, especially during the latter stages of the contest.

A memorable moment occurred in Series 6 during Bread Week, in which a contestant named Paul (who, by the way, stirred up quite a bit of interest by supposedly looking rather like a certain Mr Hollywood, as well as sharing a first name with him) produced an amazing bread sculpture in the shape of a lion, which earned him the show's first-ever (and only, to date) special commendation, although the star baker title that week went to fellow-contestant Ian.

Seeing which contestants receive the famous and much-coveted 'Hollywood Handshake' - it's always a sure sign that they've impressed the great man bigtime.

Contestants suffering 'the curse of the star baker', as Mel and Sue call it. At least five contestants, namely Jason in Series 2, Marie and Mat in Series 6, Tom in Series 7 and Stacey in Series 8, have achieved star baker status one week and been eliminated the next. This certainly goes to prove the adage that 'you're only ever as good as your last bake', unless, of course, it's a very close-run thing between two bakers and the judges therefore have to look back on previous form in order to make their decision. (This has only happened on a few occasions, one of them being in the Series 8 semi-final). On the flipside, however, contestants in danger of being eliminated have quite often managed to redeem themselves through their showstoppers, none more so than Ryan in one edition of Series 3. He was very much in the danger zone after the first two challenges, but he produced such a superb key lime pie for his showstopper that he not only saved himself from elimination, he even became that week's star baker.


"On your marks, get set....bake!"

"...And it has a soggy bottom..." (the now famous phrase associated with Pastry Week).

"Come and have a Mel and Sue sandwich..." - the phrase the dynamic duo frequently used to offer eliminated contestants a big hug.

Junior Bake Off:

"Have you all washed your hands?" - and the inevitable "Yes!" from the kids.

"These guys know their way round the kitchen, so if you fancy baking, make sure you ask an adult..."

The phrase "bake [their / my] socks off" came up rather too often in the first series of Junior Bake Off to be dismissed as coincidence. Sometimes it was Aaron or one of the judges who said it, other times the contestants, so we're guessing its elevation to a quasi-catchphrase may have been the result of someone having a bit of fun in the editing suite (and we know how they love to do that).

Jo Brand, on Extra Slice: "Time for an Extra Slice"

"Show us your bakes!"

"...Now, as you know, on 'Extra Slice', we like to give you the chance to have another go at a bake that didn't go well for you..."

"Will you please give a Great British send-off to (whoever)?"


Between the first two series, there was a special edition which, although it didn't actually acknowledge it on screen, was quite transparently made to tie in with the wedding of Prince William and Kate (or Catherine, as "the Palace" insists on calling her) Middleton. Called The Great British Wedding Cake, it reunited the three finalists from the first series and challenged them to each make a "traditional wedding cake", and a "contemporary wedding bake". Mel and Sue were absent, and strangely weren't really missed, with the history inserts featuring Paul and Mary instead. Actually, now we think about it, it's maybe not that strange - after all, the two-judges-and-a-voiceover format has served Masterchef perfectly well for years. However, Mel and Sue returned for the second series proper.

Ruth's traditional wedding cake being tasted by her fellow contestants and judges Mary and Paul

A recurring visual motif in the second series was cutaway shots of squirrels in the vicinity of the marquee. The final such shot of the series - and undoubtedly deliberately held back for that honour - featured such a prominent display of sciurine genitalia that viewers were left in no doubt as to the rodent in question's masculinity... if you get our drift.

Speaking of editing decisions, if you pay attention to what contestant Holly is wearing during the second series semi-final you can pick up several continuity errors where things have been edited in, or in the case of Sue's timecheck, originally filmed, out of sequence. And at one point, dropped in from a different episode.

In 2012 and 2013, the regular series was filmed at Harptree Court in Somerset, which has since reported a lot of visitors posing for photographs on the little bridge the contestants cross to reach the tent. The 2014 series was filmed at Welford Park in Berkshire, but you'll be disappointed if you want a souvenir snap there as it's not generally open to the public. The 2011 series was filmed at Valentines Mansion in Ilford, which is still used for the Comic/Sport Relief version as many celebrities would crumble to dust if forced to travel outside the Greater London boundary.

With overnight ratings showing an average of 8.4 million and a peak of 9.1m, the 2013 final was BBC Two's highest-rating episode of a regular series in the 21st century, and probably its biggest audience since Oprah Winfrey's interview with Michael Jackson topped 11.5m back in 1993.

By the time Bake Off left BBC2 at the end of 2013, there had been nine "Masterclass" editions where Mary and Paul talked viewers through their favourite bakes; three "Revisited" shows looking back at the previous year's finalists; and some seasonal shows, two Christmas Masterclasses and one for Easter. Both Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have gone on to make further series for the BBC about food and cookery, again made by Love Productions.

"Masterclass" continued on BBC2 after the transfer to BBC1: three episodes in 2014, four in 2015 plus a Christmas edition. "Revisited" also continued, now promoted to BBC1. Two Christmas competitions in 2016 concluded the BBC's involvement with Bake Off.

Ade Edmondson achieved a notable double first when he won Celebrity Bake Off in 2016. Not only was it the first time that a husband and wife had both won the title, given that his equally famous wife, Jennifer Saunders, had done so the previous year, Edmondson had also won Celebrity Masterchef in 2013.

The contestant who has achieved the greatest number of Star Baker titles to date - 5 in total - is the 2014 finalist Richard Burr.

Trophywatch: Series 1 champion Edd Kimber received a traditional cup-style trophy, Series 2 winner Jo Wheatley got an enormous vaguely sculptural monstrosity made of mixing bowls and kitchen utensils. Then things settled down a bit, with subsequent champs receiving etched glass cake stands.


The Great British Book of Baking (hardback)

How to Bake the Perfect Victoria Sponge (hardback)

How to Turn Everyday Bakes Into Showstoppers (hardback)

The Great British Bake Off Everyday (hardback)

Say It With Cake (by Edd Kimber)

John Whaite Bakes (by, er, John Whaite)

And there's a wall calendar, set of notebooks, recipe folder, wooden spoon...

Web links

Producers' site

BBC programme pages: The Great British Bake Off, An Extra Slice, Junior Bake Off, The Great British Sport Relief Bake Off, The Great British Comic Relief Bake Off, Crème de la Crème

Wikipedia entries: The Great British Bake Off, An Extra Slice, Junior Bake Off, Crème de la Crème

TV Tropes entry


Mel and Sue with the contestants and judges
The technical bake is judged "blind" - these photos identify the baker, but face away from the judges so they don't know whose baking is whose.
Edd's small cakes get scrutinised by Paul and Mary
Hungry yet?
Finalists Edd Kimber, Miranda Gore Browne and Ruth Clemens
Edd Kimber (holding the trophy) and his brother
The final ended with a series of "what happened next" captions, finishing with this one.

See also

The Great British Sewing Bee

The Great Pottery Throw Down

Weaver's Week review (2010); and Breadxit means breadxit on the move to Channel 4.


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