A Guide to 10 years of Bake Off

As our memories of the Great British Bake Off 2020 fade away and we look forward to next year’s competition, now’s the perfect time to look back at the last 10 years of the series. It hardly seems possible that the show has treated us to a decade’s worth of dramas, triumphs and – whisper it quietly – a few disappointments.

Bake Off has gradually built momentum over the years, with millions of viewers and the series as a whole earning countless column inches in the papers. It has also seen the skills of the bakers becoming ever better – and the recruitment drive for the 2021 gang of 12 is sure to be more competitive than ever.

In the beginning

What’s all the more remarkable is that, in 2010, Bake Off started out as a small show on BBC2. Many critics questioned how it was possible to turn home baking into a contest. Of course, time has shown that Bake Off can be so much more. 

Perhaps the biggest stroke of genius from the very beginning was to set the series in a tent, which has now become iconic. Unlike other cooking reality TV shows, like MasterChef, which take place in professional kitchens, the Bake Off tent gives a certain homespun charm to the proceedings. It also brings to mind all those village fetes that take place up and down the country all summer long.

In it to win it, if that’s OK with everyone

Another element that led to the show becoming a must-watch has been the choice of the contestants themselves. The rigorous recruitment process means that they don’t just have to be superb amateur bakers – they need to be pleasant and relatable personalities, too. 

Some recent research has uncovered some facts about how candidates are put through their paces. It has been discovered that the majority work in health and social care in some way. This is reflected in the way the contestants genuinely seem to care about each other and look visibly upset when the unlucky baker has to leave each week. 

With an average age of 37, there’s a great range of age groups in each series – so all viewers can home in on a particular person who they want to root for.

Over the 10 series to date, it has certainly been a disparate group who have carried off the top prize. The very first to do this was Edd Kimber back in 2010. This launched a whole new career for Edd, who was able to leave the world of financial services behind and start writing cookbooks instead. 

Who could forget 2016 winner Candice Brown? The former P.E. teacher set about creating a media career after scooping top prize. Soon she was appearing on Dancing On Ice and Celebrity Mastermind. She has since opened a pub in Bedfordshire with her brother.

But the most famous of all winners has to be Nadiya Hussain. The mum from Yorkshire has gone from strength to strength since she took the title in 2015. With numerous cookery books, a very frank and honest autobiography, as well as a few TV series to her name, Nadiya really has shown where winning can lead.

Judging for perfection

Unlike shows like Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity, judges decide who wins Bake Off – not the public. Paul Hollywood has been the one constant, having decided to stick with the show when it made the leap from the BBC to Channel 4. When Pru Leith took over from Mary Berry who, along with Mel and Sue, decided not to join him, she soon proved to be a very acceptable replacement.

Bake Off managed to make such a seamless transition to Channel 4 – so much so that it’s hard to imagine why there was such a furore when the switch was announced. But brows were furrowed at the prospect of Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding taking over the presenting roles and the result was awaited with trepidation.

Luckily, it turned out that apart from the longer running time and the ad breaks (which some viewers actually prefer), the essence of the show hadn’t changed. 

So it’s more than fair to say that the Bake Off is in very good health, following the disrupted series of 2020, And, for 2021, millions are waiting to see just what other heights the show might reach.

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