The Great British Bake Off

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For the current series, see The Great British Bake Off (series 5).
The Great British Bake Off
The Great British Bake Off title.jpg
Genre Cooking
Baking
Format Competition
Directed by Scott Tankard (2013–)
Andy Devonshire (2010–12)
Presented by Mel Giedroyc
Sue Perkins
Judges Mary Berry
Paul Hollywood
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 34 (inc. 16 specials)
Production
Executive producer(s) Anna Beattie (2010–)
Richard McKerrow (2010)
Kieran Smith (2012)
Producer(s) Samantha Beddoes (2013–)
Amanda Westwood (2012)
Editor(s) Amanda Westwood (2013–)
Victoria Watson (2010)
Melissa Brown (2011)
Location(s) Cotswolds, Scone Palace, Sandwich, Bakewell, Mousehole, Fulham Palace (all 2010)
Valentines Mansion (2011)
Harptree Court (2012–13)
Welford Park (2014–)
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Love Production
Distributor BBC Worldwide
Broadcast
Original channel BBC One (2014–)
BBC Two (2010–13)
Picture format 16:9
Audio format Stereo
Original run 17 August 2010 (2010-08-17) – present
Chronology
Related shows The Great British Sewing Bee
MasterChef
Come Dine with Me
Great British Menu
Pillsbury Bake-Off
The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice
External links
Website
Production website

The Great British Bake Off is a BAFTA award-winning British television baking competition first shown by BBC Two on 17 August 2010. The judges are cookery writer Mary Berry and professional baker Paul Hollywood.[1] Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have presented all five series of the programme to date.[2][3] The competition selects from amongst its contestants the best amateur baker.

The programme was moved to BBC One in its fifth series after it became the most popular show on BBC Two.[4][5] Its increasing popularity is credited with reinvigorating interest in baking throughout the UK,[6] Many of its participants, including winners, have gone on to start a career based on bakery (notably Joanne Wheatley,[7] Edd Kimber,[8] Frances Quinn and John Whaite[9]).

The programme has spawned a number of specials and spin-off shows - a celebrity charity series in aid of Sport Relief or Comic Relief, Junior Bake Off for young children (broadcast on the CBBC channel), and An Extra Slice aired on BBC Two after the Bake Off series was moved to BBC One.[10] Its format was also used on the BBC Two series The Great British Sewing Bee. The format has been sold to many countries around the world where local versions of bake-off show are produced.[11]

Format[edit]

The series choose from the contestants a best amateur baker. The applicants to the show are assessed by a researcher, followed by an audition in London with two of their bakes and undergoing a screen test and an interview with a producer. A second audition involves the applicants baking two recipes for judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood in front of the cameras.[12] Ten contestants were chosen for the first series, twelve for the following two series, thirteen for the fourth, and back to twelve for the fifth.

In each episode, the amateur bakers are given three challenges: a signature bake, a technical challenge, and a show-stopper.[12] The three challenges take place over two days, and the filming takes up to 16 hours a day. The contestants are assessed by the judges who then choose a "Star Baker" for the week (introduced in series 2), and a contestant is also eliminated. In the final three bakers are left and a winner is chosen from the three.

  • Signature Challenge – a bake using a tried and tested recipe that the amateur bakers make for their family and friends.
  • Technical Challenge – a bake using the same ingredients and recipe provided by the judges Berry and Hollywood. The recipe however has missing instructions and is designed to test the knowledge and skill of the bakers. The bakers are not told beforehand what the challenge might be, and the judges do not observe the baker at work and judge the result blind.
  • Showstopper Challenge – a bake designed to impress the judges.

In the first series, the location of the cast and crew move from town to town each week, but starting from the second series, the competition is held in one location in a specially constructed marquee. Interspersed in the programme are the background of the contestants as well as video vignettes on the history of baking. What each baker intends to bake during a particular challenge is illustrated using animated graphics. These graphics have been created by illustrator Tom Hovey since the show's inception in 2010.[13][14]

Series overview[edit]

Colour key

     Male contestant      Female contestant
Series Premiere Finale Runners-up Winner
1 17 August 2010 21 September 2010 Miranda Gore Browne Edd Kimber
Ruth Clemens
2 14 August 2011 4 October 2011 Holly Bell Joanne Wheatley
Mary-Anne Boermans
3 14 August 2012 16 October 2012 Brendan Lynch John Whaite
James Morton
4 20 August 2013 22 October 2013 Kimberley Wilson Frances Quinn
Ruby Tandoh
5 6 August 2014 8 October 2014 TBA TBA
TBA

Series 1 (2010)[edit]

Series 1 of The Great British Bake Off saw ten home bakers take part in a bake-off to test their baking skills as they battled to be crowned the Great British Bake Off's best amateur baker. Each week the nationwide tour saw the bakers put through three challenges in a particular discipline. The rounds took place in various locations across the UK, with the final being held at Fulham Palace, London.

The three finalists were Ruth Clemens, Miranda Gore Browne and Edd Kimber. On 21 September 2010, Edd Kimber was crowned the best amateur baker.[15]

Series 2 (2011)[edit]

This year the number of amateur baker contestants increased to twelve. Unlike series 1, this year The Great British Bake Off stayed in one location – Valentines Mansion, a 17th-century mansion house in Redbridge, London.

This year all the finalists were female – Holly Bell, Mary-Anne Boermans, and the winning contestant Joanne Wheatley.[16]

Series 3 (2012)[edit]

A third series of The Great British Bake Off began on 14 August 2012.[17] The series was filmed at Harptree Court in East Harptree, Somerset.

For the first time, there was an all-male final. The finalists were Brendan Lynch, James Morton and John Whaite,[18] and the final was won by John Whaite in a surprise result.[19]

Series 4 (2013)[edit]

The fourth series of The Great British Bake Off started on 20 August 2013 on BBC Two. The series was again filmed at Harptree Court in East Harptree, Somerset.[20] The all-female final was won by Frances Quinn, with Ruby Tandoh and Kimberley Wilson as runners up.[21]

Series 5 (2014)[edit]

The fifth series of The Great British Bake Off began airing on 6 August 2014 at 8:00pm on BBC One. This series was filmed at Welford Park in Berkshire.[22] There were twelve bakers taking part. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood returned as judges, whilst Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc continued to present the series.

A spin-off show The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, hosted by comedienne Jo Brand on BBC Two, was also launched as a companion series this year. Each episode is broadcast two days after the main show and includes interviews with eliminated contestants.[23]

Incomplete Bakes[edit]

As of the fifth series, there have only been two incomplete bakes.

  • In series 3, John Whaite was forced to stop baking after he severely cut his finger on the food processor. He had been continuing wearing a rubber glove, though his injury was starting to affect his strudel. As a result, no one was eliminated.
  • In series 5, Iain Watters' ice cream had not set for reasons that were not clarified during the show; though the editing of the show was such that it appeared to have been caused by another contestant's actions. He binned his bake in frustration and left the tent. He returned shortly after, though as his final bake was unable to be judged was eliminated from the competition. Due the ambiguity surrounding the cause of his bake's failure, there was some anger over his departure (see the controversy section).

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The early reviews for the first series were mixed. Lucy Mangan of The Guardian wondered if "competitive baking [is] a contradiction in terms" and found the proceedings humourless.[24] Iain Hollingshead of The Daily Telegraph was scathing, describing the presenters as "annoying", the judge Paul Hollywood as looking "sinister without being interesting", and that the audience would be so bored that they "could certainly forgive the cameraman if he were to commit hara-kiri in a giant pool of egg and flour."[25]

However, reviews from the later series were more positive. Andrew Collins of The Guardian called it "the nicest show on television" and judged it the best TV programme of 2012.[26][27] Rachel Ward of The Daily Telegraph thought the programme "had just the right consistency of mouth-watering morsels, good humour, and fascinating history",[28] while Tom Sutcliffe of The Independent considered the contest "perfectly baked".[29]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The Great British Bake Off has been nominated for a Rose d'Or in the Lifestyle section of the 2012 competition.[30]

It won the BAFTA award in the Features category in 2012 and 2013.[31][32] It was also nominated for the Radio Times Audience Award in 2013 and 2014.[33][34]

Cultural impact[edit]

The show is credited with spurring an interest in home baking, with supermarkets and department stores reporting sharp rises in sales of baking ingredients and accessories.[35][36] It was also credited with reviving the Women's Institute whose membership reached its highest level since the 1970s.[37] The show also boosted the sales of bakery books and the number of baking clubs, and independent bakeries also showed an increase in number. According to analyst, more than three fifths of adults have baked at home at least once in 2013 compared with only a third in 2011.[38]

TV ratings[edit]

The first series of The Great British Bake Off premiered in August 2010 with a moderate ratings of just over 2 million viewers for its first episode.[39] This was enough to place it in BBC Two's top ten for that week, and over the series the audience grew to over three million, with the semi-final and final both achieving first place in BBC Two's weekly ratings. During the second series, the ratings gradually increased, and it became a surprise hit with nearly 4 million watching each episode.[40] Week two was the last time that the show was out-rated by another BBC Two programme in the same week (it came second to the drama Page Eight); from then until the show's move to BBC One, every competition episode would be the channel's number one rated programme of the week. By its final episode it had averaged 4.56 million viewers, peaking at 5.1 million in its last 15 minutes.[41]

The ratings continued to strengthen in the third series, and the show began to beat its competition in its timeslot.[42] The final of the series where John Whaite was crowned the winner saw its highest rating yet, with an average of 6.5 million viewers that peaked at 7.2 million, which made it the second highest-rated BBC Two originated show after Top Gear since at least 2006.[43][44] The fourth series achieved some of the highest ratings seen on BBC Two. The viewer number for its premiere episode was more than two million higher than that of the previous season,[45] while the final episode was seen by 9.1 million viewers at its peak, more than twice the number of viewers on BBC One and ITV.[46] The final episode is the most-watched show on BBC Two since the present ratings system was introduced in 2002, beating the previous record set by Top Gear.[47] As a result of its high ratings, the show was moved to BBC One.[10]

After its move to BBC 1, the opening episode was watched by over 7 million viewers according to overnight figures, beating the figure of 5.6 million for the opening episode of previous year.[48] A "sabotage" controversy surrounding episode four helped the show gain its biggest ever audience of 10.3 million viewers, with 2 million people who watched it on iPlayer. [49]

Controversy[edit]

Product placement sanction[edit]

In September 2012, production company Love Productions was sanctioned by the BBC for product placement of Smeg fridges. The issue came to light after a viewer wrote to the Radio Times complaining of "blatant product promotion". After an investigation, the BBC said Love Production's loan agreement with Smeg did not meet editorial guidelines and was being revised for the third series, and that appropriate retrospective hire payments would be made.[50] The BBC asked Smeg to remove a notice from its website promoting its association with the show, which it has since done.[51]

Favouritism[edit]

During the fourth series, there were accusations of favouritism towards female contestants after the last man Glenn Cosby was eliminated from the show,.[52] However, similar claims were not made the previous year over the all-male final. The fourth series also suffered allegations of Paul Hollywood's favouritism towards Ruby Tandoh,[53][54] and personal attacks on Tandoh by various people including the chef Raymond Blanc.[55][56][57] Both Paul Hollywood and Ruby Tandoh denied the accusation.[58][59]

Baked Alaska controversy ("Bingate")[edit]

In the 4th episode of the fifth series, there was controversy around the expulsion of contestant Iain Watters. During the final show stopper round contestants were tasked with producing a Baked Alaska. Iain's ice cream was shown as having not set and in a show of frustration he threw his bake in the bin. The editing of the show suggested that another contestant, Diana Beard, had caused the failure by removing the ice cream from a freezer, and the perceived "sabotage" resulted in a furore on social media networks.[60] However, various members of the cast posted comments in support of Diana[61] and a BBC spokesman later issued a statement:[62]

More than 800 complaints were lodged with the BBC over the incident and some also complained to the communication watchdog Ofcom.[63]

International versions[edit]

Current and upcoming versions include:[64]

Country Local title Host(s) Judges Channel Premiere
 Australia The Great Australian Bake Off Shane Jacobson
Anna Gare[65]
Dan Lepard
Kerry Vincent
Nine Network[66] 9 July 2013
 Belgium (Dutch) De MeesterBakker
(The Master Baker)
Rani De Coninck Sofie Dumont
Bernard Proot
vtm 4 April 2012
 Denmark Den Store Bagedyst
(The Great Baking Joust)
Peter Ingemann
Neel Rønholt
Mette Blomsterberg
Jan Friis-Mikkelsen
DR1 28 August 2012[67]
 Finland Koko Suomi leipoo[68]
(The whole of Finland bakes)
Anne Kukkohovi Mika Parviainen
Sami Granroth
MTV3[69] 24 September 2013
 France Le Meilleur Pâtissier[70][71]
(The Best Baker)
Faustine Bollaert Cyril Lignac
Jacqueline Mercorelli
M6[72]
RTL-TVI (Belgium)
26 November 2012
 Germany Das große Backen
(The great Baking)
Britt Hagedorn
Meltem Kaptan
Enie van de Meiklokjes
Andrea Schirmaier-Huber
Christian Hümbs
Sat.1 1 December 2013
 Ireland The Great Irish Bake Off Anna Nolan[73] Biddy White Lennon
Paul Kelly[74]
TV3 19 September 2013
 Italy Bake Off Italia[75] Benedetta Parodi Ernst Knam
Clelia d′Onofrio
Real Time[76] November 2013
 Netherlands Heel Holland Bakt
(All of Holland bakes)
Martine Bijl[77] Robèrt van Beckhoven
Janny van der Heijden
MAX (Nederland 1) 5 June 2013[78]
 Norway Hele Norge Baker
(All of Norway Bakes)
Line Verndal Pascal Dupuy
Øyvind Lofthus[79]
TV3[80] 10 March 2013[81]
 Poland Polski Turniej Wypieków
(The Polish Baking Tournament)
Marta Grycan
Piotr Gąsowski
Katarzyna Skrzynecka[82]
Bozena Sikoń
Tomasz Deker[83]
TLC 10 October 2012[84]
 Sweden Hela Sverige bakar[85]
(All of Sweden Bakes)
Tilde de Paula Johan Sörberg
Birgitta Rasmussen
TV4 (Sjuan) 20 September 2012
 Ukraine Great Bakers Tournament Yuri Gorbunov[86] Serge Markovic
Catherine Ahronik
Olga Ganushchak
1+1[87] 1 September 2013[88]
 United States The American Baking Competition[89][90] Jeff Foxworthy Marcela Valladolid
Paul Hollywood
CBS[91] 29 May 2013[92]

Spin-offs[edit]

The Great Sport/Comic Relief Bake Off[edit]

The Great Sport/Comic Relief Bake Off
Genre
Format Competition
Directed by Stuart McDonald
Presented by
Judges
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 12
Production
Location(s)
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Love Productions
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
Picture format 16:9
Original run 10 January 2012 (2012-01-10) – present
External links
Website

Episode viewing figures from BARB.[93]

Series 1 (Sport Relief 2012)[edit]

Episode No. Challenge Contestants Finalist Airdate Viewers
Signature Showstopper Technical
1 Traybake Meringue dessert Wholemeal Cheese Scones Sarah Hadland
Joe Swift
James Wong
Angela Griffin
Angela Griffin 10 January 2012 (2012-01-10) 3.52
2 Savoury Flan Layered cake Banana and chocolate chip loaves Arlene Phillips
Fi Glover
Saira Khan
Gus Casely-Hayford
Fi Glover 11 January 2012 (2012-01-11) 2.79
3 Classic Crumble 24 miniature tarts Coffee and Walnut cake Anita Rani
Pearl Lowe
Alex Deakin
Alex Langlands
Anita Rani 12 January 2012 (2012-01-12) 2.56
Episode No. Signature Challenge Showstopper Challenge Technical Challenge Finalists Winner Airdate Viewers
4 Trio of baked biscuits Covered Tiered occasion cake 6 Sausage Rolls Angela Griffin
Fi Glover
Anita Rani
Anita Rani 13 January 2012 (2012-01-13) 3.43

Series 2 (Comic Relief 2013)[edit]

Episode No. Signature Challenge Showstopper Challenge Technical Challenge Contestants Comic Relief Star Baker Airdate Viewers
1 Shortbread Portrait Cake Custard Slices Jo Brand, Stephen K. Amos, Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver Ingrid Oliver 21 January 2013 (2013-01-21) 4.17
2 Iced Biscuits Gateaux Bakewell Tart Warwick Davis, Duncan Bannatyne, Simon Reeve and Andy Akinwolere Warwick Davis 22 January 2013 (2013-01-22) 4.44
3 Scones Novelty Cake Chocolate Eclairs Ellie Simmonds, Kirsty Wark, Julia Bradbury and Bob Mortimer Ellie Simmonds and Kirsty Wark 23 January 2013 (2013-01-23) 4.34
4 Chocolate Biscuits Comic Relief Birthday Cake Lemon Meringue Pie Claudia Winkleman, Ed Byrne, Martha Kearney and Helen Glover Martha Kearney 24 January 2013 (2013-01-24) 4.39

Series 3 (Sport Relief 2014)[edit]

Episode No. Guest host Signature Challenge Showstopper Challenge Technical Challenge Contestants Sport Relief Star Baker Airdate Viewers
1 Sue Perkins 12 Sandwich Biscuits 3D Novelty Cake Tarte Tatin Michael Vaughan, Samantha Bond, Bonnie Wright and Johnny Vaughan Bonnie Wright 13 January 2014 (2014-01-13) 4.37
2 Jo Brand 12 Gingerbread Biscuits Chocolate Cake Banoffee Pie Kirsty Young, Jane Horrocks, Greg Rutherford and Jason Gardiner Kirsty Young 14 January 2014 (2014-01-14) 5.07
3 Omid Djalili Traybake Layered Cakes Iced Ring Dougnuts Michael Ball, Emma Freud, Jamelia and Victoria Pendleton Emma Freud 15 January 2014 (2014-01-15) 5.02
4 Ed Byrne Pizzas Tiered Cakes Eccles Cakes Rochelle Humes, Alistair McGowan, Doon Mackichan and Helen Skelton Alistair McGowan 16 January 2014 (2014-01-16) 4.94

Transmissions[edit]

Regular series[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 17 August 2010 21 September 2010 6
2 16 August 2011 4 October 2011 8
3 14 August 2012 16 October 2012 10
4 20 August 2013 22 October 2013 10
5 6 August 2014 8 October 2014 10

Specials[edit]

Title Start date End date Episodes
The Great British Wedding Cake 20 April 2011 1
The Great British Bake Off, Masterclass 6 October 2011 13 October 2011 2
The Great British Bake Off, Revisited 20 October 2011 1
The Great British Bake Off, Masterclass 22 October 2012 25 October 2012 3
The Great British Bake Off, Revisited 23 October 2012 1
The Great British Bake Off, Christmas Masterclass 18 December 2012 1
The Great British Bake Off, Easter Masterclass 26 March 2013 1
The Great British Bake Off, Class of 2012 22 October 2013 1
The Great British Bake Off, Masterclass 29 October 2013 1 November 2013 4
The Great British Bake Off, Christmas Special 17 December 2013 1

References[edit]

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