Sometimes dreams do come true, it seems. When Sandi Toksvig announced she was quitting as co-host of The Great British Bake Off, fans were aghast. After all, she and Noel Fielding, despite being an odd couple on paper, worked so incredibly well together.
They had become, in a relatively short space of time, one of TV’s most beloved double acts.
The question was, who could possibly step into her shoes? Fielding had the answer all the time, he just didn’t realise it until having a dream that Matt Lucas was standing beside him in the famous Bake Off tent.
On waking, he rang the show’s producers, made the suggestion and here we are, a few months later with Lucas installed as his new co-host.
The pair hardly knew each other before filming began, but it seems they get on like a house on fire.
“I love Matt,” says Fielding. “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.”
“I’m chuffed to bits to be joining the most delicious show on television,” said Lucas at his unveiling. “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.”
The Prue and Paul he mentions are, of course, Leith and Hollywood, the programme’s judges, who are also returning for the competition’s 11th series, which almost didn’t happen.
When lockdown was announced, many thought that Bake Off would be one of several TV casualties. Love Productions, which makes the show, came up with a plan which saw the production team and competitors – around 120 people in total – going into quarantine for 14 days in the lead-up to filming starting at the end of July.
The group then lived in a self-contained biosphere for six weeks.
The format itself remains the same, so the opening episode kicks off with the signature challenge, in which the competitors will be tasked with putting a personal twist on a classic Battenberg.
Next, in the technical, a fruit sponge is the order of the day. Finally, in the showstopper, the gang get a chance to demonstrate their creativity.
One of them will then be crowned Star Baker, while another gets the big heave-ho, their dreams of following in the footsteps of last year’s winner, David Atherton, in tatters – unlike Fielding’s.
The Great British Bake Off, Channel 4, Tuesday, 8pm
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