The Great British Bake Off returns to TV this week as a fresh batch of bakers set their sights on impressing judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.
Although the Channel 4 series was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s contestants and crew entered a six-week “self-contained biosphere”, ensuring the show could be filmed as normal but over a shorter period.
Still housed in the famous white tent, series 11 of the show also retains the format of previous years, and thanks to strict safety measures – including ongoing Covid-19 testing – participants were able to interact freely without masks or social distancing.
“I ended up thinking, ‘This is the safest place in the whole of England’,” explained judge Prue Leith. “All 130 people – which includes the hotel staff and all of the crew and all the support staff and all the bakers – we all had been tested to death. We had our temperatures taken every morning.
“So, when we were in the tent, we were allowed to behave absolutely freely, and that was great, because that meant that the viewer will see Bake Off like they’re used to. It won’t be masks and social distancing…it would have been really difficult to do Bake Off without being friendly, wouldn’t it?”
Replacing Sandi Toksvig, who left the show after the 2019 series, comedian Matt Lucas will co-host with actor Noel Fielding.
Of the 12 hopefuls, student Peter Sawkins, from Edinburgh, will be flying the flag for Scotland in this year’s competition. The 20-year-old admits he has watched every series of Bake Off since the first, and loves to honour his homeland in his baking, using Scottish ingredients whenever he can.
The Great British Bake Off, Channel 4, Tuesday, 8pm
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