Bake Off 2020: Meet the bakers
James R | On 22, Sep 2020
September is here, which means one thing: it’s time for The Great British Bake Off. The show, which moved to Channel 4 with Paul Hollywood, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding and Prue Leith in the presenting mix, has settled into its new home, whipping up the second biggest series of 2019 for young viewers across all channels with Season 10 attracting a 60.1 per cent share of Channel 4’s key demographic of 16-34 year olds.
Now, the show’s warming up for its return this, but with one key change in the ingredients: Matt Lucas will replace Sandi in the presenting team, with the other three hosts and judges remaining the same.
Another big change will be the start time: the show will begin at 8.15pm on Tuesday 22nd September, allowing time for Boris Johnson to address the nation with an update on the coronavirus pandemic and safety restrictions.
Speaking of which, the opening three episodes will run for an extended 75 minutes to allow an extra advert break, reportedly to help generate more revenue for Channel 4 after the pandemic has hit all companies hard financially. Even before broadcast, though, other changes were being made, with production on the programme adapting to be able to film this August, with all 120 cast and crew living in a self-contained bubble for almost two months.
The new season kicks off with Cake Week, with bakers putting their twist on the classic Battenberg, before a technical challenge involving a fruit sponge and a showstopper themed around heroes. Who, exactly, is in the new batch of bakers? Read on below the show’s trailer for a guide to this year’s contestants.
Dave, 30, Hampshire
As a child, Dave rarely ventured into the kitchen to cook, relying entirely on his mum’s cooking – he taught himself to bake only once he’d flown the nest. Now living with his girlfriend in their first home, he loves filling his kitchen with fancy, colourful gadgets and he even chooses his appliances with Bake Off in mind! Dave bakes at least once a week – and always while listening to his favourite punk rock bands. His baking style is innovative and imaginative and his strengths lie in bread (pretzels, brioche rolls, and baguettes are particular favourites) and decoration – he especially loves a mirror glaze to give his bakes a professional-looking finish. When he’s not baking, Dave can be found pursuing his other passions – cars, DIY, and taking his dog and cat for walks.
Hermine, 39, London
Hermine was born and raised in Benin, West Africa, and moved to London in 2001 to pursue further education. Growing up, she used to love helping her mum bake for big family gatherings, and then at the age of eight decided to go about it on her own. She bought the ingredients for a Savarin cake and threw herself into the challenge. She has never looked back! The French influence in Benin has instilled in Hermine a love of high-end pâtissérie – she enjoys baking intricate millefeuille, éclairs and entremets. She is also a dab hand at sourdough – so much so that her nine-year-old son now refuses to eat any other bread! A notorious feeder with an infectious laugh, she’s creative at heart and loves cooking marmalades and jams to give as gifts, making beautiful labels as well as delicious fillings for the jars.
Laura, 31, Kent
A Gravesend girl born and bred, Laura began baking at around the age of eight but realised her flair for it only a few years ago. She loves citrus and strong flavours, and enjoys putting a modern twist on old classics. Laura thrives working under pressure and thinks her organised nature is what particularly suited her to taking part in Bake Off. The perfectionist in her wants things to look faultlessly pretty and gorgeously dainty. She specialises in decoration and is proud to have mastered the art of piped buttercream flowers. Laura is happily married to a Police Community Support Officer, and she loves musical theatre (as a performer and audience member) and is a volunteer for the Samaritans.
Linda, 61, East Sussex
Retirement Living Team Leader
Linda discovered her passion for baking during her frequent childhood visits to her aunt’s dairy farm, just down the road from her own home. She’d help to milk the cows, then carry a bucket of milk into the kitchen, where her aunt taught her to bake cakes topped with rich, creamy icing. To this day Linda buys homegrown produce from another aunt’s fruit farm and uses it in her baking. Her strengths are in the classics and in home-comfort cooking, like her signature sausage rolls. A lover of the countryside and of being outdoors in general, Linda will frequently head with her partner to their local beach, to fish for mackerel and mullet. And she loves to spend time in her garden – cultivating its produce and for its positive effects on her well-being.
Loriea, 27, Durham
Born and raised in Jamaica, Loriea uses baking as a means to celebrate her Caribbean roots. She moved to the UK when she was 15 years old, but began baking at age five with her maternal grandmother, whose influence plays a big part in her cooking style. Loriea loves to include coconut, chillies and cinnamon in her food – and rarely follows a recipe exactly. In fact, from the moment she reads a recipe, she starts to think how she can tweak it to make it her own. Her husband, Peter, is (of course) the biggest fan of her cooking, and he especially loves her Jamaican patties. When Loriea isn’t baking or working long shifts at the hospital as a radiographer, she likes practising the craft of macramé. Growing up, Loriea was really into athletics – and has even met Usain Bolt.
Lottie, 31, West Sussex
Lottie’s Lancastrian great-grandmother was a fervent cake-baker – and for this reason Lottie believes that baking is in her blood. She has always had a fascination with cooking: when she was little, she watched cooking shows rather than playing with her toys and was often to be found making notes from cookery books. She calls herself a ‘perpetually frustrated perfectionist’ and, while her baking has become more refined over time, she hopes it retains an element of her dark sense of humour. When she’s not baking or busy with her job producing pantomime, Lottie will be playing computer games with her young cousins, or practising yoga.
Makbul, 51, Greater Manchester
Self-taught baker Makbul first took on cooking at home as a means to help support his mum. He has honed those early skills through watching TV shows, reading books and drawing inspiration from famous chefs. He has a remarkable ability to measure out ingredients just by eye. Mak’s strengths lie in pastry (he says he’s better at puff than shortcrust); and, for celebrations such as Eid, he enjoys making traditional Asian nankhatai biscuits. He thinks baking has made him generally more patient, but woe betide anyone (even his wife) who tries to take control in his kitchen! Their three grown-up children are his harshest baking critics. Mak has recently taken up beekeeping – he produces his own honey, which he loves to use as often as possible in his bakes.
Marc, 51, Cornwall
Bronze Resin Sculptor
Marc decided to enter Bake Off in a bid to show his daughters that even when life throws obstacles at you, you can rise to new challenges and develop new passions. Born and raised in Leicester, fervent climber Marc spent his youth travelling the world and conquering mountains, before settling back in the UK and becoming a landscape photographer. Personal tragedy, including losing his leg in a motorbike accident in 2016, led him to baking bread as a form of therapy, and from there he came to baking cakes and pastries. From palmiers and chausson aux pommes to opera cakes and millefeuille, his bakes now show true finesse. He’s a support worker and single parent, and, with his daughters cheer him on, he’s taken up climbing again.
Mark, 32, Liverpool
Northern Irish Mark fell in love with baking at a pie shop in Edinburgh – he visited every day while he was at university for the shop’s delicious Mac ’n’ Cheese pie. Following that early inspiration, he began to experiment: first attempting (and perfecting) a lemon drizzle cake and eventually taking on multi-tiered wedding cakes, each time looking at the science of the bake in order to perfect it. His style is hugely influenced by his Irish heritage, but also by the flavours of Africa and Asia, where he travels regularly for his work as a project manager for public health research programmes. When he isn’t baking, you can find Mark walking in the Lake District, indulging his passion for wildlife, or with his wife, travelling and exploring new places.
Peter, 20, Edinburgh
Accounting & Finance Student
With his parents and brother, Edinburgh-born Peter grew up feasting on his mum’s home cooking. But it was Bake Off that inspired him to start baking for himself – he has watched every series since the first and has been baking seriously since he was only 12 years old. He loves to honour his homeland in his cooking, using Scottish ingredients – including berries, whisky, oats and honey – whenever he can. When he’s not baking, he is either upholding the family’s love of numbers by studying Accounting and Finance at university, or demonstrating his competitive streak on the badminton court – he has been playing badminton for a decade and has represented his county in the sport since 2012.
Rowan, 55, Worcestershire
Entirely self-taught, Rowan calls his baking style ostentatious – but, he hopes, tasteful. French pâtissérie is his absolute passion – he loves the subtlety of flavour, and the style and sophistication of French baking, and he is drawn to fine, complex, layered cakes. His love of the Georgian era encourages him to reinvent 18th-century recipes whenever he can. He enjoys decorating his bakes with flowers, preferably edible ones, using what is in bloom in his garden. A fitness enthusiast, Rowan swims a mile most mornings and is a keen cyclist and occasional horse-rider. He lives in Worcestershire with his partner, who shares his passion for music, the arts and theatre, and he can often be found in the British Library researching all things 1700s.
Sura, 31, London
Sura grew up surrounded by family who offered food as a means to show affection, love and respect. The many Middle Eastern and Asian influences in her heritage – including Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and India – mean she enjoys experimenting with ingredients and flavours from all over the world. Never one to stick to a recipe, Sura loves to improvise in the kitchen and inject her bakes with as much personality as possible. She loves to work with fragrant and floral flavours such as cardamom, rose and orange blossom. She now lives in London with her husband and elderly grandmother. When she’s not baking or working, she can be found indulging her passions for travel, architecture and design.
Matt Lucas to replace Sandi Toksvig on Bake Off
11th March 2020
Actor, writer and comedian Matt Lucas will be joining Noel Fielding and judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood in the Bake Off tent for the next season of The Great British Bake Off.
After three years and 51 showstoppers Sandi Toksvig announced plans to switch off her kitchen timer and leave The Great British Bake Off at the start of 2020. Now, Channel 4 has found her replacement.
“I’m chuffed to bits to be joining the most delicious show on television,” says Lucas. “I can’t wait to break bread with Noel, Prue and Paul and meet the brilliant bakers. And bearing in mind my love of cake, I’ve already ordered some much larger trousers in anticipation. See you in the tent!’
Noel says: “I love Matt. I love his warmth and his comedy and his big joyful smile. I think if we play our cards right we could become the next Chas and Morph.
Paul adds. “I’m a genuine fan of Matt’s, it is such great news he will be joining us in the tent, he’s a fantastic addition to the team.”
Richard McKerrow, CEO and Executive Producer, Love Productions, comments: “It’s extremely exciting to have Matt joining the Bake Off family, he’s a phenomenal talent with a huge heart and we can’t wait to enjoy the mischief and mayhem he and Noel will inevitably create in the tent. Our new batch of bakers will be in very safe hands.”
Filming for the 11th season of The Great British Bake Off begins this spring.
Sandi Toksvig to leave Bake Off
16th January 2020
After three years and 51 showstoppers Sandi Toksvig has announced plans to switch off her kitchen timer and leave The Great British Bake Off.
Sandi is leaving the show to focus on other work projects, which include hosting the forthcoming Channel 4 series The Write Offs, which looks at the issue of adult literacy.
She says about her decision: “When stepping down from a job it is quite common for people to say they are doing so in order to spend more time with their family. Unusually I am departing from the Great British Bake Off so I can spend more time with my other work. As my waistline will testify, Bake Off is an all-consuming show. Spending time with Prue, Paul and Noel has been one of the great pleasures of my life. These are friendships which I know will continue beyond the confines of television. Bake Off is a wonderful programme which has already proved it can happily withstand a change of hosting personnel. The reason for that, of course, is that the true stars of the show are the bakers themselves. I wish everyone well.”
Chief Creative Officer and Executive Producer for Love Productions Richard McKerrow adds: “We’ll always be incredibly grateful to Sandi for becoming one of the hosts of Bake Off when we moved to Channel 4, along with Noel, Paul and Prue. She has contributed hugely to Bake Off over the last three years, with her sharp witty sense of humour and her passionate commitment to the dozens of bakers during her time in the tent. We wish her all the very best on the exciting projects she is currently working on and beyond.”
Ian Katz, Director of Programmes at Channel 4, comments: ”Sandi is a huge part of why Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 has been such a success and we are immensely grateful for her contribution to the show. We will miss her warmth and wit, not to mention her endless willingness to be the butt of jokes about being the least tall person in the Bake Off tent. Fortunately, her unique voice will continue to have an important presence on the Channel with new shows in development – none of which involve cake.”
The hunt is currently on for a new face to join Noel, Paul and Prue in the tent. Candidates must have experience of mopping up spills and the occasional tear, making tea and keeping the amateur bakers to time. More information will be announced in due course.