Channel 4 has unveiled the full lineup of this year’s Great British Bake Off contestants as the Paul Hollywood teases the best cast yet
The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith says the bubble created in Essex for this year’s series was “the safest place” to be amid the pandemic.
For six weeks, Down Hall Hotel became home to all the cast, crew, judges, staff and cleaners, quarantined together in one big bubble.
Prue, 80, said the result was a programme that will look and feel normal when it airs later this month.
She said: “Honestly, I ended up thinking this is the safest place in the whole of England. All 130 people, which included the hotel staff… we all had been tested to death. So when we were in the tent, we were allowed to behave absolutely freely.”
This year’s contestants include a 20-year old badminton ace, a 61-year old retirement team leader, a sculptor who lost a leg in a motorbike accident and a music teacher.
Judge Paul Hollywood, 54, said he’d encountered some of the best baking ever on the show.
Executive producer Kieran Smith told the Radio Times that filming had been “hugely liberating” for new host Matt Lucas, who had “barely been out” before filming.
Of Noel Fielding, he said: “Noel felt a lot happier in the bubble than he did in the real world.
“He’d pretty much been shielding in one location for several months, so the ability to walk in a green space and be able to talk to people face to face was liberating.”
Dave learned to bake as an adult and does it at least once a week – listening to punk rock. His strengths are bread and mirror glazes.
He says: “I remember meeting Matt Lucas and realising he was as nervous as I was being there – and meeting Noel was a lifelong dream.”
“I ran out of ganache. Sura came to my rescue with about a minute to spare. I knew I had a friend for life.”
Hermine, who has a nine-year-old son, says she is good with flavours but admits: “My weakness is the ability to get a clean, neat finish under time pressure.”
Linda enjoyed childhood visits to her aunt’s dairy farm, where she learned to bake cakes topped with rich, creamy icing.
Linda, who fishes for mackerel and mullet and admits to struggling with timing, says: “It’s never too late to chase your dreams.”
Born and raised in Jamaica before moving to the UK aged 15, Loriea uses baking as a means to celebrate her Caribbean roots and loves to include coconut, chillies and cinnamon in her food.
The Durham hospital worker says: “My weakness lies in my inability to follow a recipe without having to put my own twist in.”
Self-taught baker Makbul can measure out ingredients just by eye and says his strengths lie in pastry.
The Manchester accountant, who has recently taken up bee-keeping, says he is not daunted by much but admits: “My biggest weakness is the mess I create!”
Lottie believes baking is in her blood thanks to her Lancastrian great-grandmother and as a child she preferred making notes from cookery books to playing with toys.
She says she is a “perpetually frustrated perfectionist”, adding: “Coming out of lockdown into another lockdown was weird – that first morning was utterly terrifying.”
Mark’s style is influenced by his Irish heritage but also by the flavours of Africa and Asia, where he travels regularly for his work with public health research programmes.
Mark, who lives with his wife, says he struggles with timekeeping: “At home I spend hours (and sometimes days) baking something as a way of de-stressing.”
The single dad entered to show his daughters that life’s obstacles and challenges can be overcome.
His strength is bread. Leicester-born Cornwall resident Marc says: “I just remember feeling the very positive and exciting energy in the tent.”
The Edinburgh lad honours his Scots heritage by including berries, whisky, oats and honey in his bakes.
Peter, who plays badminton at county level, says he’s great at time management and planning but admits: “My weaknesses are artistic decoration and bread baking.”
Rowan calls his baking style ostentatious – he loves to reinvent 18th-century Georgian recipes and enjoys decorating his bakes with edible flowers from his garden.
The Worcestershire fitness fanatic, who says he swims a mile most mornings, admits: “My weakness is over-ambition and no interest in timings.”
She has Middle Eastern and Asian influences in her heritage – including Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and India – and enjoys experimenting with ingredients.
The Londoner loves to work with fragrant flavours such as cardamom and orange blossom and says of Prue: “She inspired a lot of my baking in my early 20s.”
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