Finalist Tamal has a great idea for a new Bake Off format…

The doctor turned Bake Off heartthrob reckons each week the Star Baker should get a "freebie" round, swapping stressful bakes for a sit down with a cup of tea

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Over the last six years, The Great British Bake Off has transformed from a niche baking competition to a ratings-winning national treasure. But aside from a move from BBC2 to BBC1, not much has changed.

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The beloved show, fronted by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, has remained true to its wholesome, sugary-sweet roots. No massive X Factor-style overhauls, no sob-stories, no six-bake challenges…. 

But 2015 finalist Tamal Ray thinks it’s time the show made one format change: a “freebie” round for the Star Baker.

“I always used to think when you won Star Baker it’d be nice if you could just come back for one bake and just be sitting there having cups of tea… while everyone else is stressing,” he told us at last week’s Radio Times Covers Party. “You get a freebie!”

It’s certainly an idea his fellow finalists like the sound of. “We should change the format of the show!” laughed last year’s winner Nadiya Hussain. 

Tamal reckons watching the upcoming series seven will feel a bit like his “freebie” round anyway. “I think it’ll be weird, but I think it’ll actually be quite nice to watch it and not know what the outcome is and not feel really stressed,” he said. 

Ian Cumming reckons he’ll feel the new bakers’ pain, while semi-finalist Flora Shedden says she’ll want to give them all a cuddle. Reigning champ Nadiya is more worried about watching the upcoming series, though. “I’m going to be really jealous and annoyed,” she admitted. 

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The Great British Bake Off returns to BBC1 later this year