The Great British Bake Off



Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins (2010-16)

Noel Fielding (2017-)

Sandi Toksvig (2017-19)

Matt Lucas (2020-22)

Alison Hammond (2023-)

Tom Allen (stand-in for Noel Fielding on 2020 Christmas special)

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)
Noel Fielding (2018-) (and Sandi Toksvig from 2018-20)

Bake Off: Crème de la Crème/The Professionals:
Tom Kerridge (2016)
Angus Deayton (2017)
Tom Allen (2018-21)
Liam Charles (2018-, not S8E7)
Stacey Solomon (2022)
Ellie Taylor (2023)


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

Junior Bake Off:
Paul Hollywood (2011 - also stand-in judge for 3 editions, 2022)
Mary Berry (2011-13)
James Martin (2013)
Graham Hornigold (2015)
Allegra McEvedy (2015-6)
Nadiya Hussain (2016)
Prue Leith (2019, not the 2025 celebrity series)
Liam Charles (2019-)
Ravneet Gill (2021-)

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, 4 November 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.

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

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. McEvedy proved very pleasant and easy-going with the contestants: however, Hornigold, while undoubtedly competent and fair in his judging, proved rather dour in manner - in fact, making him smile seemed virtually akin to achieving a Hollywood Handshake in the regular series. 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. It would have been nice to have had them continue as judges into another series, but the main show moved to Channel 4 and Junior Bake Off was shelved.

The 2019 series judges were Prue Leith and the 2017 regular series semi-finalist Liam Charles, and the new host was the former celebrity winner Harry Hill. This also proved very successful, with both Leith and Charles proving very pleasant and kind with the contestants and always taking the trouble to reassure losing contestants that they'd still done very well and strongly encouraging them to keep on baking. Hill, meanwhile, proved, well, completely nuts, full of visual gags highly reminiscent of the character Professor Branestawm, whom he has portrayed in recent years, but also very kind and supportive of the young bakers. Oh, and as for his shocking tank tops - no, let's not go there. (See also 'Key Moments' below).

Another notable change in this series was that the format was rather more akin to the regular series format than the previous series, with the contestants performing a Technical Challenge that was judged blind, and then a showstopper, and the challenges were always the same staples as the adult version: cakes, biscuits, bread, pastry and desserts. Both of the first two weeks had 10 contestants who were whittled down to 5, one being eliminated per day, except that on the first days, no one was eliminated: Hill stated in both cases, "We want to get to know you all a bit better". Of course, that meant that two contestants were eliminated the next day, and that obviously softened the blow for the first two bakers to leave, which was a nice touch. During the third week, which had more varied baking-themes, a contestant was eliminated on each of the first two days, then two bakers on the third and fourth days, leaving 4 bakers in the final. Once again, the young contestants all proved delightful, highly talented and wonderfully supportive of each other, as well as very tolerant of Hill's gags, which could, frankly, be rather distracting. Of particular note among the young people were Kian, with his multitude of hats (virtually a different one for every show); Oliver and Sam with their cuddly toy mascots; the highly-impressive finalist Eliza, who was a frequent star baker and who produced an amazing multi-tier cake in the final; the aptly-named Bakr, who was the series' second Star Bakr - sorry, star baker - and, last but by no means least, the eventual champion Fin, who produced a faultless and immaculately decorated cake for his final showstopper. (See also 'Key Moments', below). The young people were a real pleasure to watch.

The 2021 Junior series was also excellent, with another fantastic bunch of young bakers, and with Hill even madder than ever, indeed sometimes rather too distracting, but the bakers coped very admirably, usually either ignoring or humouring him (or both). For this series, Leith was replaced by chef Ravneet Gill, who proved an asset to the show, working well with Charles, and very kind and supportive of the bakers. Another change to the show was that there were only 8 bakers, whittled down to 4, during each of the first 2 weeks, leaving 8 bakers in the final week, reduced to 4 for the final. Pleasingly, they kept up the 'no eliminations during opening heats' rule, so that everyone took part in at least 2 shows, but less good was the fact that the reduced numbers meant that only 1 baker was eliminated during both the second heats. Covid-19 restrictions had delayed filming, but much of it was done during the summer holidays, while there were fewer restrictions, and only immediate family-members could be invited to the party on Grand Final Day. Once again, the young people were an absolute pleasure to watch, and it was always hard to accept that any of them had to be eliminated as the series progressed

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 that it's set to continue, even if Junior MasterChef didn't seem to last so well - although the fact that the latter show 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.

The second series of Crème de la Crème was the last Bake Off series to air on the BBC. Comedian Angus Deayton took charge, and rather like GBBO itself, the second series addressed a lot of the issues that dogged the first. We were a bit surprised that they dropped Claire Clark, the "nice" judge, but her departure freed up Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden to not have to play up their "nasty" roles all the time. The "Bake Off" branding still seems out of place (let's face it, we're never getting a bread week), but it's become a lot less intimidating to the non-technical viewer. In 2018, Deayton was replaced as host by 2017 regular 'Bake Off' semi-finalist Liam Charles and comedian Tom Allen, who is also the regular guest on 'Extra Slice', who was later replaced by Stacey Solomon and then by Ellie Taylor. Liam missed the seventh episode of series eight due to unspecified reasons.


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
2019 David Atherton
2020 Peter Sawkins
2021 Giuseppe Dell'Anno
2022 Syabira Yusoff
2023 Matty Edgell

Junior Bake Off

2011 Freya Watson
2013 Harry Duffy
2015 Amari Koryang
2016 Nikki Christou
2019 Fin Woodward
2021 Reece Suwali
2022 Kezia
2023 Amelia

Celebrity series

2012Anita Rani
2015Victoria Wood

Crème de la Crème / The Professionals

2016Squires Kitchen International School: Mark Tilling, Helen Vass, Samantha Rain
2017Combined Services Culinary Arts Team: Liam Grime, Ian Mark, Chris Morrell
2018London Hilton Park Lane: Sam and Emmanuel
2019Kimpton Fitzroy London: Thibault and Erica
2020Cocorico Patisserie: Thibault and Laurian
2021Gin and Bake: Michael and Andrew
2022Nathan and Kevin
2023The Landmark, London: Mauro and Daniel
2024The InterContinental London at the O2: Tanuj and Narayan

No affiliation was given for the 2022 winners.

Christmas specials

Mary-Anne Boermansoriginally from Series 2
Chetna MakanSeries 5
Paul JaggerSeries 6
Rav BansalSeries 7
Jane BeedleSeries 7
Steven Carter-BaileySeries 8
Briony WilliamsSeries 9
Saoirse-Monica JacksonDerry Girls special


This is a list of celebrity participants who have taken part in the celebrity specials, which were called The Great Sport Relief/Comic Relief/Stand Up to Cancer Bake Off'

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



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 nasty injury occurred during an edition of the 2020 Stand Up To Cancer Celebrity series, in which Joe Sugg cut himself badly during the signature challenge. A paramedic duly came in to attend to the injury and Sugg momentarily passed out in the man's arms. But did the harrowing experience scupper Sugg's chances? Far from it: not only did he get a Hollywood Handshake for that self-same bake, he also went on to be that week's star baker. Oh, and said paramedic was obliged to provide further first aid within the same edition, when another contestant, Alex Jones, also cut herself, although rather less dramatically than Sugg.

Another fall (although not quite on the same lines) occurred in the 2019 Junior Bake Off Grand Final. When host Harry Hill announced Fin's name as the champion, Fin's legs seemed to give way and he was immediately obscured by family, friends and fellow-bakers rushing to congratulate him. Thankfully, they clearly left him some breath, as he was none the worse for the experience afterwards. He explained in later interviews that the sheer delight and exhilaration of the announcement, combined with the exhaustion of having been on his feet throughout all the bakes, caused his legs to collapse - and who could blame him?

A 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 what had happened. 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.

Another incident occurred during the first edition of Series 11. At the end of the technical challenge (making upside down cakes), the contestants were taking their cakes to the gingham altar, and Sura tried to swipe some flies away. In doing so, she managed to knock most of fellow-contestant Dave's cakes to the floor, much to her mortification. Judges Leith and Hollywood were duly informed and they judged Dave's cakes purely on the surviving 4. Dave survived the week and went on not only to become the next week's star baker, but to be a finalist too.

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.

It's often interesting to see what different challenges the producers come up with during every series. They've included 'Chocolate Week', 'Caramel Week', 'Batter Week', 'Vegan Week', 'The Roaring 20s Week', '1980s Week', 'Danish Week', 'Italian Week', 'Dairy Week', 'Forgotten Bakes Week', 'Victorian Week' and even 'Floral Week'. These gimmicks are almost always introduced as "The first ever [whatever] week!" as if there were going to be more. Surely nobody's fooled by that now. One week, 'Japanese Week', came in for intense criticism for, among other things, asking the contestants to bake baos, which are of Chinese origin.

There have been two occasions to date in which the judges (Berry and Hollywood both times) have had to taste contestants' Technical Challenge bakes straightaway rather than wait for all the contestants to present them on the 'gingham altar'. In both cases, it was souffles that had been made, and of course they had to be sampled at once, so the judges sat at a table with their backs to the contestants and either Mel or Sue would bring each soufflé over in turn.

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.

There was also the incident in the Series 9 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 Series 9 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.

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. Henry, in Series 10, reacted very unusually to this accolade - he exclaimed, "No - shut up!" much to everyone's amusement: Leith gently pointed out that his reaction was rather inappropriate. Inevitably, Hollywood got his own back later by telling Henry to shut up - but none of this stopped the latter achieving star baker status for that week.

A nice visual gag occurred in the 2019 Junior series final, in which host Harry Hill opened the show by stating that, after all the frivolities of the previous episodes (all instigated by him, of course), it was time to get serious, as it was the Grand Final. At that moment, all 4 finalists came running up and each in turn splatted him in the face with a custard pie. Nicely done! Pleasingly, this gag was redone in 2021. On this occasion, Hill opened the show by remembering what had happened during the previous series and then adding, "But I'm pleased to say that it won't happen again this time - this year's bakers are a much nicer bunch". One of the finalists, Robbie, then came up and said, "Harry - as it's been such a privilege to work with you, we've all clubbed together to get you a present, is it all right if we give it to you now?" Hill said "Yes", then, "See what I mean? A much nicer bunch", then, sure enough, cue four messy splats in his face - and he so deserved it. The gag also occurred in 2022, whereby Hill donned a Covid face-shield to protect himself against custard pies: one finalist, Lola, offered to clean it for him, so he raised it, and, yet again, the other 3 finalists were quick to do their duty with the pies.

Another lovely moment during that latter final occurred during the judging of the showstoppers, whereby the aforementioned Robbie, who was a real character, and with a great sense of humour, had made a wonderful cake very much in the British style, complete with red, white and blue decorations. Judge Charles suddenly burst into song: "God save our precious Queen..." (OK, it should really have been 'gracious Queen', but why not allow a bit of artistic licence?) and Gill, Hill and of course Robbie himself immediately joined in to sing the whole National Anthem. Robbie, might we add, was definitely the most tuneful of them all. Very appropriate, and it certainly kept up the innate good humour of the series.

It's always really nice to see the great camaraderie between the bakers, and in all versions of the show too, whereby they frequently help each other out in the event of problems, and, in the 2018 and 2019 regular series, paying tribute to recently-eliminated bakers. Examples of this were when the surviving contestants all wore lively shirts following Jon's elimination in 2018, such shirts having being his trademark. The following year, the semi-finalists wore ties in tribute to Henry, who had nearly always worn a tie during his time in the tent. (Not that the surviving contestants wore theirs for long, however, as it was so hot in the tent, but a kindly gesture nonetheless). Incidentally, judge Hollywood had previously incorrectly claimed that Henry was the first-ever contestant to wear a tie - there had in fact been a contestant named Mark who had worn one in the second series. The third contestant to do so was Rowan in Series 11 - he also wore fancy waistcoats - quite a flamboyant character, to say the least.

Contestants suffering 'the curse of the star baker', as Mel and Sue used to call it. At least eight contestants, namely Jason in Series 2, Marie and Mat in Series 6, Tom in Series 7, Stacey in Series 8, Henry in Series 10 and Lottie and Hermine in Series 11, have achieved star baker status one week and been eliminated the next - talk about 'hero to zero'. Oliver, in the 2019 Junior series, also had the same experience. Marie's downfall was perhaps the most surprising, given that she'd been the star baker in the very first edition of the series and then went out in the second - once again, it was the same in Oliver's case. Hermine's elimination was also something of a shocker, given that she'd been star baker over the previous 2 weeks. 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. Similarly, at least four contestants have won the technical challenges and yet still been eliminated that week: they were Flora in the Series 6 semi-final, Rosie in the Series 10 semi-final, Helena earlier on in the latter series, and also Safiyyah in the 2021 Junior series semi-final.


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

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

(At the end of the Technical Challenge): "Will you please bring your bakes up to the gingham altar and place them behind your photographs?" ('Gingham altar', ie the table covered by a gingham tablecloth, is now also a phrase totally synonymous with the show).

"Come and have a Mel and Sue sandwich..." - the phrase the dynamic duo frequently used to offer eliminated contestants a big hug. This was sometimes shortened to "Sandwich-time".

There are also phrases that both sets of presenters have used over the series to announce the Star Baker and the baker being eliminated - one will say, "I get the nice job this week..." and the other, "I've got the more onerous task..." - both phrases are frequently varied.

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).

(Harry Hill in 2019, after the Technical Challenge): "And right on cue, it's Liam and Prue".

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..." (This phrase was not used in the 2020 series, as it was not appropriate for the celebrities to taste any bakes, owing to Covid-19 restrictions).

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

The Professionals:

Cherish Finden: "Love it, love it, love it!"


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.

When Mel and Sue left, Love Productions apparently tried (and, obviously, failed) to get Miranda Hart and Michael McIntyre as their new hosts. We could maybe see one of those working in the role...

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.

Tom Allen covered for Noel Fielding during the 2020 Christmas special as he was on paternity leave.

The contestant who has achieved the greatest number of Star Baker titles to date - 5 in total - is the 2014 finalist Richard Burr. His record was matched by finalist Eliza in the 2019 Junior series, and almost matched by the 2019 finalist Steph Blackwell and the 2021 Junior champion, Reece Suwali, who were both Star Bakers 4 times. David Atherton, incidentally, who won the 2019 regular series, was the first-ever champion to win the series having never been Star Baker, although he'd come close on a number of occasions. It certainly goes to show that the underdog can still win overall - David had in fact used that very word to describe himself.

Further to the above, the contestants in the 2020 regular series proved very well-matched in terms of the number of star baker titles they achieved. Sure, the first five to be eliminated did not achieve the accolade, but the remaining seven all did so at least once - the two who achieved star baker twice were the series champion, Peter Sawkins, and the semi-finalist Hermine.

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 (clear for the series, white for specials).


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

Channel 4 programme pages: The Great British Bake Off, An Extra Slice, Junior Bake Off, The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C, The Professionals

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

The Piano

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


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