Surprisingly, it’s been ‘all-quiet on the British baking front’ for the last several months. You may remember the Brexit-style exit that the series made with the BBC last year when the producers and the Beeb couldn’t come to an agreement for the next season. After seven seasons, the series left the BBC for greener pastures to the tune of more ‘dough’ from Channel 4.
Almost immediately, Paul Hollywood decided to pack up his tent and go with the show and be a part of whatever the new version looked like. Not too long after, series hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc chose to remain true to their BBC roots rather than jump ship. Potentially, the final nail in the GBBO coffin may have come when Mary Berry, the 81-year-old English food writer and television presenter who co-judged with Hollywood, decided to remain in the BBC corner out of ‘loyalty’.
While Berry’s loyalty was to the BBC, Hollywood’s loyalty remained with the show and not the channel. “Since I was a kid, baking has been part of my life. The seven series inside the tent have created some great memories. Best of all, I have felt so pleased to experience other people getting the baking bug, just as I did when my dad helped me make my first loaf. The Great British Bake Off has brought baking to the nation and we’ve seen people from all walks of life and backgrounds, experience the highs and lows of competition, and more importantly helping each other. It’s been a huge part of my life in the past few years and I just couldn’t turn my back on all that – the bakers themselves, the bakes, the team that makes it, and of course the tent, the bunting, and who could forget… the squirrels, ” said Hollywood.
Just this week, Channel 4 announced its new-look line up with Sandi Toksvig (QI) and Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh, Never Mind the Buzzcocks) revealed as the show’s presenters when the format relaunches on Channel 4 later this year, taking the place of series hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc when it called the BBC home. Alongside Hollywood will be Prue Leith, restaurateur, caterer, television presenter, journalist, cookery writer and novelist who will take the place of Mary Berry.
As you can imagine, the choice of Fielding has made experts out of everyone who loves Great British Bake Off when it comes to picking the new hosts. Put aside the fact that Fielding once actually worked in a cake shop at the age of 14. Ok, he did get fired the first day but still, he has experience. Suddenly, even Fielding’s BFF, Russell Brand, felt the need to comment with this on Twitter. Brand, a good pal of Noel’s, jokingly implied on Twitter that it was an out-there pick: “Right. If @noelfielding11 can do Bake Off I’m replacing Len on Strictly.”
All to say, it will be interesting to see how this plays out with the new talent as both broadcasters hitch their wagons to their remaining stars adding as much drama as we’ve seen under the tent the last several years. Jay Hunt, chief creative officer of Channel 4, said: “Paul really is the star baker – an exceptional talent with a twinkle in his eye” while Charlotte Moore, controller of BBC One, said: “Mary is an extraordinary woman, loved and adored by the British public, and the BBC is her natural home,” adding: “I can’t wait to cook up more unmissable shows with her in the future.”
For those that just can’t bear the thought of a GBBO series without Paul, Mary, Mel and Sue, PBS will begin the final series of the BBC’s Great British Bake Off on Friday, June 16 at 9pET/8pCT.
Let the GBBO games begin…