33 things to know about the new Great British Bake Off

By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

Image source, Channel 4

After a year of channel hopping, line-up changes and way more drama than should ever be caused by some fairy cakes, we are so ready for the new series of The Great British Bake Off.

And by the sounds of it, so are the contestants.

"I just want to get on with it now, and burn my first cake," one says in the opening episode.

So, we've been to a press screening of the series opener and spoken to Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding and Channel 4's chief creative officer Jay Hunt.

Here's what you can expect from the new series.

1. Channel 4 have avoided any icing controversy.

Remember when the BBC gave the male contestants blue icing and the female contestants pink icing last year in the promo shots?

Yeah, Channel 4 have cleverly avoided that by using some rainbow cake.

Image source, Channel 4
Image caption,
Flo (far left) is the oldest-ever contestant at 71

2. It's weird having new presenters to start with.

"Visually, it's scary that Mel has been replaced by a vampire," joked Noel after the press screening.

But you get used to it pretty quickly to be fair.

Some of the opening jokes feel a little forced and awkward - but then so were some of Mel and Sue's, and it becomes more natural as the episode goes on.

3. Prue has some advice for those who hate the thought of adverts during Bake Off.

"You don't have to watch it in real time," she says, championing the joy of services which let you skip the ads.

Jay Hunt (jokingly) put her head in her hands at this point.

4. There are 12 contestants.

And their names are Liam, Stacey, Yan, Steven, Tom, Flo, Kate, Julia, James, Chris, Sophie and Peter.

Please don't ask us who's who in the below photo because we haven't learned them off by heart yet.

Image source, Channel 4

5. They're definitely not dialling down the innuendo.

"I don't know what it is but I want to dip my finger in it," is just one of several glorious lines in the first episode.

6. The ad breaks are well placed.

There's one between the first challenge and the judging of it. One after the judging of the technical. And another between the showstopper and the judging.

Hunt said she makes "no apology" for the ad breaks because they pay for the show, adding: "We've been careful about thinking where the ad breaks sit and how the format works with it, so it's quite seamless."

7. Prue is planning to steal from the contestants.

"After 25 years of not writing cookery books because I was writing novels, I thought right, now I'm on Bake Off I'll do a cookery book," Prue said.

"And you know what I'm doing is just keeping notes of what the bakers are doing. There are some off-the-wall contributions which work brilliantly, so I'm quietly cribbing them."

Don't worry, she was kidding (we think).

Image source, Channel 4

8. Noel and Sandi are an unlikely double act.

"There's a lot of repressed sexual tension," Sandi joked at the screening.

9. But it seemed to win over the audience.

"When we did our chemistry test we made love straight away," said Noel.

He's talking about the screen tests presenters do to make sure they work well together on camera.

"Sandi is the quickest comedian I've ever worked with," he added.

10. Prue hates to watch herself on TV.

"I'm so vain, I can't bear it," she said. "I'm thinking, why is that cameraman going round the back of my head or filming close up and getting my double chin?"

11. Sandi also can't stand watching herself back.

At this rate the viewing figures are going to be pretty low.

Image source, Channel 4

12. There are some brilliantly dreadful jokes in the first episode.

At one point, Sandi gives Noel a bowl, at which point he falls on the ground.

"He's bowled over," says Sandi.


13. Paul has a new nickname.

"We're all newbies here, except for ol' blue-eyes," Noel says (speaking about Paul, obvs) as he tries to put everyone at ease during the opening challenge.

14. Jay Hunt is hopeful about the viewing figures.

"We're expecting a strong performance," she said. Noel was a little more specific.

15. "I think it will get between five viewers and 17 million viewers," he said.

So actually, not that much more specific.

Image source, Channel 4

16. Paul "won't be looking at Twitter" when the show goes out.

So don't @ him.

17. The standard is ridiculously high this year.

Seriously, look out for the watermelon cake.

18. So high, in fact, that there are TWO Hollywood handshakes in the first episode.


19. But it's also not short on disasters.

One contestant forgets to actually turn the oven on.

Another literally bins all the sponge she's baked so far and starts over.

20. Noel and Sandi are taking hosting duties to new heights.

The pair are seen in a hot air balloon during the show's opening shots.

Image source, Channel 4

21. Prue Leith will be firm but fair as a judge, because she wants the bakers to be their very best.

"I'll be firm but fair as a judge, because I want the bakers to be their very best," Prue Leith said.

Probably didn't need an explainer on this one.

22. Also, Prue doesn't like too many accessories.

One contestant puts actual flowers on the side of their cake to make it look prettier.

"I always have a problem with things you're not going to eat, and nobody is going to eat a marigold," Prue says.

At this point, Noel brilliantly proves her wrong, stuffing it in his mouth.

23. Noel was "staggered" to be asked to present the show.

Adding that it was "too big an opportunity" to turn down.

Image source, Channel 4

24. He even got some advice about it from his friend Serge from Kasabian.

Who Sandi has never heard of.

25. Jay Hunt says the format is fundamentally the same.

But adds the show has a "more surreal, comedic take" and a "uniquely Channel 4 tone".

26. GBBO is LGBT friendly.

"This is like my wedding day all over again, except my wife isn't here," says one female contestant right at the top of the show.

A woman being gay is obviously not a thing in 2017, and we've had LGBT contestants before, but it's telling that Channel 4 gave this line such a prominent placing at the beginning of the episode.

27. It doesn't take itself too seriously.

"No-one's going to die," one contestant correctly observes.

Image source, Channel 4

28. Noel is sweetly supportive to the contestants.

"Everything is redeemable, you can do this," he tells one, in a nice Mel-and-Sue kind of way.

29. One dish is described as "the Peter Beardsley of cakes".

ie Displaying skill, but not much to look at.

30. They've messed with one crucial Mel and Sue catchphrase.

Perkins and Giedroyc used to alternate the "On your marks" / "Get set" / "Bake" bit.

But for their first time uttering the famous phrase, Noel and Sandi say it TOGETHER.

Hugely controversial.

But stay calm everyone, they then revert to alternating for the rest of the episode.

Image source, Channel 4
Image caption,
The new series of The Great British Bake-Off starts next week

31. The showstoppers really are showstopping.

In the first episode there are cakes shaped as everything from a Russian doll to a champagne bottle and ice bucket. And they all look incredible.

If Instagram was a TV show, it would be this episode.

32. One contestant makes an extremely shrewd observation.

"I've never made a mini chocolate roll. Why would I?"

Well said.

Why would you make a mini version of ANYTHING so delicious indeed.

33. There is one moment that will definitely make you giggle.

But if you really think the top of that champagne bottle cake is phallic-shaped then it says more about your filthy state of mind, you disgusting individual.

Image source, Channel 4

The Great British Bake Off is on Channel 4 at 20:00 BST on Tuesday 29 August.

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