10 ways Bake Off series one was VERY different to today’s show

The voiceovers, the tasks and the tent: The Great British Bake Off has changed a lot since 2010


All great things must come to an end. Unless it’s Bake Off. Bake Off must keep going forever. And yes, there are a few worries the BBC flagship show will change into something unrecognisable when it moves Mel-and-Sue-and-Mary-less to Channel 4. But those worries ignore one vital fact: Bake Off is used to change.


The proof (in the pudding)? These 10 points that show just how strange Bake Off was back in 2010…

1. Mel and Sue didn’t do the voiceovers

And it’s weird. Oh so weird. Instead of the upbeat tones of Mel and Sue narrating the baking action, load up the first episode onto your box and you’ll be greeted with the newsreader-esque tones of Stephen Noonan, an actor you might know for his role in The Bill and his funny surname.


Yes, his sober voice anchors the show on the more serious aspect of baking. But Noonan’s unsmiling tone creates a disconnect from the tent – it makes you feel like you’re observing the action rather than feeling it. And let’s face it, you’re mainly watching Bake Off to get up close to the potential drama of a baked Alaska disaster, not pick up technical tips.

2. The Bake Off tent was pitched in different locations

The Bake Off marquee’s been situated in Berkshire, in the grounds of Newbury’s Welford Park, for three years now. But it used to move around. A lot. 

In fact, each episode of series one was filmed in a different town themed for that episode: bread week was filmed in Sandwich, biscuit week in Scone Palace in Scotland, and pudding week in Bakewell.

A nice gimmick that made the show a kind of Coach Trip with ovens, but the entire thing suffered from a serious flaw: we only really saw inside the tent. So it’s no surprise the marquee was pegged down in the same place the entirety of series two: the grounds of Valentines Mansion, a 17th-century mansion house in Redbridge.

3. There were only six episodes

That means we’d almost be at the semi-finals if series seven was the same length. (Don’t worry, we’re still only halfway through.) The instalments were still an hour long, but viewers of the first Bake Off series found their tiny portion of baking puns and a brooding Paul finished after a mere six episodes.

Fortunately, that’s all Bake Off needed to prove its potential and series two was given the same number of episodes (10) we’re treated to now.

4. There were only 10 contestants…

That’s two fewer bakers than the 12 we got this year.

Bonus fact: while Bake Off also served up 12 contestants in the second, third, fifth and sixth series, the fourth Bake Off class was one of 13 amateur bakers.  


5. …and they were quite different from the contestants today

Granted, they were all still lovely people, but the age range was much more limited. While the youngest contestant on this year’s Bake Off (the short-lived Michael) was 20, the freshest face baker in 2010 was Ed Kimber, who was 24-years-old at the time (he went on to be Bake Off’s first winner).

Plus, the oldest baker in series one was only 51, while this year three bakers are over 60-years-old. (10 gold baker stars if you said Val, Lee and Jane.)

6. Series one loved double eliminations

The gold standard of an episode of The Apprentice; an awful idea for cosy Bake Off. But it’s sadly true: there were TWO double firings departures in the FIRST TWO weeks of series one.

And although we’ve had double eliminations before (a total of six), none were more brutal than in the first series. We barely had time to know 40% of the first ever bakers before they were shipped out the tent within a fortnight.

Sad, yes, but be sure to remember the names Mark Whithers and Lea Harris, the first people to leave the show. It’ll probably come up in a Pointless round in the near future.

7. There was no star baker award

As if you needed more proof of the whole gladiatorial vibe of Bake Off 2010, before series two there was no Star Baker prize. No silver linings to an amateur baker leaving the tent. No discussions about whether somebody should have come out as top baker for his amazing lion bread. It was just a straight elimination contestant show. And warm viewing it wasn’t.


8. The show aired on BBC2

In 2010 The Great British Bake Off was tucked away in the BBC2 proving drawer, before finally being brought out to flourish on BBC1 in 2014.

9. Viewing figures were tiny compared to now

While over 11 million people tune into the show in 2016, only two million switched over to the very first episode of Bake Off. However, five years later, 13.4 million people would watch Nadiya Hussain taking the Bake Off crown in the 2015 series.

10. The tasks were rubbish

Okay, we’ll just get this out the way: the standard of baking in the first series was, well, a tad lower than the 2016 series. Instead of attempting the likes of a Dampfnudel in the technical round, bakers had a go at a Victoria sandwich. We repeat: a Victoria sandwich.


Plus, during the first series contestants regularly brought pre-made elements into the tent. Check out the 1.35 mark in the video below, where a contestant brings in their own chocolate swirls (and make sure you don’t miss Mary’s disapproving look).



The Great British Bake Off continues 8pm Wednesdays, BBC1