The New 'Great British Bake Off' — Everything We Know (So Far)
New episodes of the re-imagined Great British Bake Off are premiering in the UK this fall, but the run-up to the premiere has been dogged by controversy: After eight series with the BBC, the show is switching to Channel 4. Much-beloved Mary Berry won’t be following the show’s move, and neither will the previous hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. That means an almost entirely new line-up will take on the show's venerable legacy – and fans of the show aren’t exactly sold on the changes. Here’s everything we know about the show so far:
A shocking departure:
Mary Berry – uncompromising, sometimes harsh, but always honest in her criticism and impressive with her baking expertise – heart of the Great British Bake Off, chose to step down as a judge after the program abandoned the BBC and switched to Channel 4, leaving her co-judge Paul Hollywood to carry on at the show’s new home. Channel Four bought the rights to the show for a reported £75 million.
A strange comedic twist:
Oddball comedian Noel Fielding is taking over hosting duties, along with sharp-witted QI (a panel game show once helmed by Stephen Fry) regular Sandi Toksvig. The announcement drew the ire of many of the show’s fans, who don’t see the self-proclaimed Goth as a good fit for the upbeat, wholesome baking extravaganza. British Twitter wondered how Fielding’s signature surrealist sense of humor might clash with Toksvig’s more straightforward comedic style. Would the two butt heads or would comedy magic blossom from their partnership? Opinions were mixed:
Update, August 7: The show's strange new trailer adds to speculation that the new season will be even more of a comedic deviation from previous years than anyone could have expected.
A “modern” tone:
Jay Hunt, CEO at Channel Four, revealed how the show would transform helmed by its new personalities as evidenced in a clip aired to British media outlets, according to the Daily Mail.
“Their chemistry is fantastic, the caliber of the baking is absolutely jaw dropping,” she said in defense of her hosts. “I can reassure all the skeptics that it's looking absolutely fantastic.'
She said that, in what she’s seen of the show so far at least, there are no more “soggy bottom” jokes, a running gag on the show.
'It's got a slight Channel 4 feel to it," Hunt said. 'We've got a new tone to it, it's got a new comic riff to it. I think that feels modern and future facing. I think it's a show that people will love with a Channel 4 spin.'
A health-conscious judge:
Replacing Berry is Prue Leith, owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant Leith’s. Leith revealed that she hopes to encourage contestants to ditch butter and sugar in favor of healthier treats, so we might see more challenges focused on creating baked goods that treat your body well, too. Leith previously advised the nutrition program for UK schools.
Update, August 7: In a new interview, host Noel Fielding says that he's adopted a health-concious attitude as well, and will be abstaining for tasting the sugar treats created by the show's contestants.
A returning spin-off:
Comedian Jo Brand (another QI regular) has hosted the The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, since 2014, but in April of this year, she announced that she’ll follow the main show’s migration away from BBC to Channel 4. On An Extra Slice, Brand invites the most recently eliminated baker on for an interview, and shows outtakes from The Great British Bake Off.
British fans will get to see how these changes all play out this autumn, while us Americans may have to wait until next year to finally catch a glimpse of this much-anticipated changing of the guard.