The Great British Bake Off

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For the most recent series, see The Great British Bake Off (series 5).
The Great British Bake Off
The Great British Bake Off title.jpg
Genre Cooking
Directed by Scott Tankard (2012–13)
Andy Devonshire (2010–12, 2014–)
Presented by Mel Giedroyc
Sue Perkins
Judges Mary Berry
Paul Hollywood
Theme music composer Tom Howe
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 34 (inc. 16 specials)
Executive producer(s) Anna Beattie (2010–)
Richard McKerrow (2010)
Kieran Smith (2012)
Producer(s) Samantha Beddoes (2013–2014)
Amanda Westwood (2012)
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 Productions
Distributor BBC Worldwide
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
Related shows The Great British Sewing Bee
Come Dine with Me
Great British Menu
Pillsbury Bake-Off
The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice
External links
Production website

The Great British Bake Off, often referred to as simply Bake Off or GBBO, 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. The winners are Edd Kimber,[7] Joanne Wheatley,[8] John Whaite,[9] Frances Quinn and most recently Nancy Birtwhistle.[10]

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.[11] 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 the show are produced.[12]


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.[13] 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.[13] 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 is intentionally sparse and has missing instructions, as it is designed to test the knowledge and skill of the bakers. The bakers are not told beforehand what the challenge might be. The judges also judge this blind as everyone has been given the same recipe, and the judges then rank the bakers from worst to best.
  • Showstopper Challenge – a bake designed to impress the judges. What the bake looks like is also taken into consideration.

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.[14][15]

Series overview[edit]

Series Premiere Finale Runners-up Winner Average UK viewers
1 17 August 2010 21 September 2010 Miranda Gore Browne Edd Kimber 2.77
Ruth Clemens
2 14 August 2011 4 October 2011 Holly Bell Joanne Wheatley 3.95
Mary-Anne Boermans
3 14 August 2012 16 October 2012 Brendan Lynch John Whaite 5.00
James Morton
4 20 August 2013 22 October 2013 Kimberley Wilson Frances Quinn 7.35
Ruby Tandoh
5 6 August 2014 8 October 2014 Luis Troyano Nancy Birtwhistle 10.04
Richard Burr

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.[16]

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.[17]

Series 3 (2012)[edit]

A third series of The Great British Bake Off began on 14 August 2012.[18] 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,[19] and the final was won by John Whaite in a surprise result.[20]

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.[21] The all-female final was won by Frances Quinn, with Ruby Tandoh and Kimberley Wilson as runners up.[22]

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.[23] 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. Richard Burr was awarded the largest number of star baker designations of any series so far, but was beaten by Nancy Birtwhistle in the final.

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 was broadcast two days after the main show but later moved to the same night. The show includes interviews with eliminated contestants.[24]

Incomplete bakes and other incidents[edit]

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

  • In series 3, John Whaite was unable to complete his bake after he suffered a severe cut to his finger on the food processor. He tried to continue working on his strudel wearing a rubber glove, but the bleeding required medical attention and he therefore had to abandon the last bake. As a result, no one was eliminated that week.[25]
  • In series 4, contestant Deborah accidentally used Howard's custard instead of her own. As a result, Howard was forced to use Deborah's custard, and this was taken into account by the judges.[26]
  • In series 5, for the Baked Alaska challenge, Iain Watters' ice cream melted for reasons that were not entirely clear, although the editing of the show suggested that it had been caused by another contestant's actions. He threw his ice cream into the bin in frustration and left the tent. He returned shortly after, and as he had no cake for judging (he produced his bin instead, and the incident was labelled "bingate"), he was eliminated from the competition. The event that led to his departure provoked some anger from the viewers.[27]


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.[28] 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."[29]

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.[30][31] Rachel Ward of The Daily Telegraph thought the programme "had just the right consistency of mouth-watering morsels, good humour, and fascinating history",[32] while Tom Sutcliffe of The Independent considered the contest "perfectly baked".[33]

From series three onwards, the show became noticeably more popular.[34] In series four, there were over 10,000 applicants, with ratings regularly topping six million. This was further proved by the fact that the show was transitioned to BBC One, in the same format as The Apprentice had done, and got its own spin-off show on BBC Two. The fifth series of the show attracted a substantial number of viewers, with the final attracting over thirteen million viewers.[35][36]

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.[37]

It won the BAFTA award in the Features category in 2012 and 2013.[38][39] It was also nominated for the Radio Times Audience Award in 2013 and 2014.[40][41]

The show won the 2015 National Television Award for Skills Challenge Show.[42]

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.[43][44] It was also credited with reviving the Women's Institute whose membership reached its highest level since the 1970s.[45] 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.[46]

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.[47] 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.[48] 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.[49]

The ratings continued to strengthen in the third series, and the show began to beat its competition in its timeslot.[50] 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.[51][52] 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,[53] 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.[54] 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.[55] As a result of its high ratings, the show was moved to BBC One.[11]

After its move to BBC One, 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.[56] 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.[57] The final of the show gained an overnight viewing figure of 12.29 million, then the highest viewing figure of the year for a non-sporting event on UK TV.[58]


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.[59] The BBC asked Smeg to remove a notice from its website promoting its association with the show, which it has since done.[60]


During the fourth series, there were accusations of favouritism towards female contestants after the last man Glenn Cosby was eliminated from the show,[61] 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,[62][63] and personal attacks on Tandoh by various people including the chef Raymond Blanc.[64][65][66] Both Paul Hollywood and Ruby Tandoh denied the accusation.[67][68]

Baked Alaska controversy ("Bingate")[edit]

In the fourth 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.[69] However, various members of the cast posted comments in support of Diana[70] and a BBC spokesman later issued a statement that "Diana removing Iain's ice cream from the freezer for less than a minute was in no way responsible for Iain's departure."[71]

More than 800 complaints were lodged with the BBC over the incident and some also complained to the communication watchdog Ofcom.[72]


A number of viewers complained to the BBC feedback show Points of View in the fifth series about the "constant smutty remarks" from the presenters Mel and Sue.[73][74] This series was seen as having more innuendos than previous ones; some reviewers noted the "extra pinch of saucy spice" and "the increasingly filthy-minded hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins",[75][76][77] while the Daily Mail argued that the "smutty" innuendos made the show no longer fit for family entertainment.[78] The series 3 winner John Whaite however argued that innuendo is part of what made the show a success,[79] whilst judge Paul Hollywood described the innuendos as banter in the spirit of the Carry On films and is a part of British culture,[80] a view shared by others.[81][82]

International broadcast[edit]

The fifth series is aired in the United States on PBS, as The Great British Baking Show.[83]

International versions[edit]

Current and upcoming versions include:[84]

Country Local title Host(s) Judges Channel Premiere
 Australia The Great Australian Bake Off Shane Jacobson
Anna Gare[85]
Dan Lepard
Kerry Vincent
Nine Network[86] 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)
Timm Vladimir Mette Blomsterberg
Jan Friis-Mikkelsen
DR1 28 August 2012[87]
 Finland Koko Suomi leipoo[88]
(The whole of Finland bakes)
Anne Kukkohovi Mika Parviainen
Sami Granroth
MTV3[89] 24 September 2013
 France Le Meilleur Pâtissier[90][91]
(The Best Baker)
Faustine Bollaert Cyril Lignac
Jacqueline Mercorelli
RTL-TVI (Belgium)
26 November 2012
 Germany Das große Backen
(The great Baking)
Britt Hagedorn (2013)
Meltem Kaptan (2013)
Enie van de Meiklokjes (2014)
Enie van de Meiklokjes (2013)
Andrea Schirmaier-Huber
Christian Hümbs
Sat.1 1 December 2013
 Ireland The Great Irish Bake Off Anna Nolan[93] Biddy White Lennon
Paul Kelly[94]
TV3 19 September 2013
 Italy Bake Off Italia[95] Benedetta Parodi Ernst Knam
Clelia d'Onofrio
Real Time[96] November 2013
 Netherlands Heel Holland Bakt
(All of Holland bakes)
Martine Bijl[97] Robèrt van Beckhoven
Janny van der Heijden
MAX (Nederland 1) 5 June 2013[98]
 Norway Hele Norge Baker
(All of Norway Bakes)
Line Verndal Pascal Dupuy
Øyvind Lofthus[99]
TV3[100] 10 March 2013[101]
 Poland Polski Turniej Wypieków
(The Polish Baking Tournament)
Marta Grycan
Piotr Gąsowski
Katarzyna Skrzynecka[102]
Bozena Sikoń
Tomasz Deker[103]
TLC 10 October 2012[104]
 Sweden Hela Sverige bakar[105]
(All of Sweden Bakes)
Tilde de Paula Johan Sörberg
Birgitta Rasmussen
TV4 (Sjuan) 20 September 2012
 Turkey Ver Fırına Burcu Esmersoy Arda Türkmen
Emel Başdoğan
TV8[106] 20 October 2014[107]
 Ukraine Great Bakers Tournament Yuri Gorbunov[108] Serge Markovic
Catherine Ahronik
Olga Ganushchak
1+1[109] 1 September 2013[110]
 United States The American Baking Competition[111][112] Jeff Foxworthy Marcela Valladolid
Paul Hollywood
CBS[113] 29 May 2013[114]


The Great Sport Relief Bake Off[edit]

The Great Sport Relief Bake Off
Presented by
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 8
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Love Productions
Original channel BBC Two
Picture format 16:9
Original run 10 January 2012 (2012-01-10) – present

Episode viewing figures from BARB.[115]

Series 1 (2012)[edit]

     Finalist      Winner
Episode No. Signature Challenge Technical Challenge Showstopper Challenge Contestants Airdate Viewers
1 Traybake Wholemeal Cheese Scones Meringue Dessert Sarah Hadland 10 January 2012 (2012-01-10) 3.52
Joe Swift
James Wong
Angela Griffin
2 Savoury Flan Banana & Chocolate Chip Loaves Layered Cake Arlene Phillips 11 January 2012 (2012-01-11) 2.79
Fi Glover
Saira Khan
Gus Casely-Hayford
3 Classic Crumble Coffee & Walnut Cake 24 Miniature Tarts Anita Rani 12 January 2012 (2012-01-12) 2.56
Pearl Lowe
Alex Deakin
Alex Langlands
4 Trio of Baked Biscuits 6 Sausage Rolls Covered Tiered Occasion Cake Angela Griffin 13 January 2012 (2012-01-13) 3.43
Fi Glover
Anita Rani

Series 2 (2014)[edit]

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

The Great Comic Relief Bake Off[edit]

The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Presented by
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 8
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Love Productions
Original channel BBC Two (2013)
BBC One (2015)
Picture format 16:9
Original run 21 January 2013 (2013-01-21) – present

Series 1 (2013)[edit]

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

Series 2 (2015)[edit]

     Star Baker
Episode No. Guest host Signature Challenge Technical Challenge Showstopper Challenge Contestants Airdate Viewers
1 Sue Perkins Giant Cookie or Biscuit 12 Mini Fruit Tarts Tiered Chocolate Cake Dame Edna Everage 11 February 2015 (2015-02-11) 7.75
Joanna Lumley
Jennifer Saunders
2 Mel Giedroyc 24 cupcakes 20 profiteroles Marble "Building" Cake Jonathan Ross 18 February 2015 (2015-02-18) 8.39
Zoe Sugg
Gok Wan
Abbey Clancy
3 Jo Brand 24 Shortbread 6 Mini Pork Pies Triple-tiered Pavlova Sarah Brown 25 February 2015 (2015-02-25) 7.92
David Mitchell
Michael Sheen
Jameela Jamil
4 Ed Byrne Tray Bake 12 Crumpets Vegetable Self Portrait Cake Alexa Chung 4 March 2015 (2015-03-04) 8.21
Victoria Wood
Chris Moyles
Kayvan Novak


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


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
The Great British Bake Off Masterclass 9 October 2014 16 October 2014 4
The Great British Bake Off, Class of 2013 12 October 2014 1
The Great British Bake Off, Christmas Masterclass 16 December 2014 1


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External links[edit]