A brand new series of The Great British Bake Off has been rolled out, with a new selection of amateur bakers hoping to whip up a storm (as well as a selection of mouth-watering baked goods) in the marquee of dreams.
What makes Bake Off such a treat is its diverse and unique line-up of contestants each year. Brits from all walks of life rise to the occasion under the steely and withering gaze of Paul Hollywood, and the charming warmth of Prue Leith.
The contestants are a fundamental ingredient in making Bake Off the success it is, with its eccentric cast of characters now sprinkled across other programmes in their own right.
Series six winner Nadiya Hussain, who won hearts thanks to her rising confidence, has since fronted three of her own cookery programmes and presented the first series of The Big Family Cooking Showdown.
Last year’s champion Rahul Mandal quickly established himself as a national treasure, and has since worked as a columnist in a national newspaper.
Even those who didn't win have remained in the spotlight; series eight favourite Liam Charles is now a co-host of Bake Off: The Professionals.
So how do you whip up the perfect Bake Off cast? The recipe is always as follows:
Take a diverse mix of individuals from across the country
Each series of Bake Off has seen a range of contestants of varying backgrounds and ages - with the youngest baker being 17, and the oldest at 71. Not all contestants are necessarily British born, either; while they all live in the UK at the time of filming, we’ve had participants from Russia, India and France – with their cultural backgrounds influencing their bakes.
Add a pinch of eccentricity and a sprinkling of intrigue
Without fail, every year will see a contestant with a job or slightly left-field hobby that will make our ears prick up. Personal favourites include housewife and bodybuilder, civil servant, as well as the classic combination of DJ and 'Japan enthusiast'.
Mix in some controversial and heart-warming moments
Nothing strengthens the cast’s bond more than the tent’s most unnerving moments. When someone’s custard curdles, usually there’s someone else on hand to help out (or accidentally steal it). A big bake toppling over? The rest of the tent pile in to hold it up. Not even a binned Baked Alaska can fuel feelings of ill-will amongst the group.
Wait for friendships to form
The friendships are arguably the sweetest part of Bake Off, even sweeter than the vast array of treats they’re asked to bake. It’s genuinely lovely to watch the partnership between competing bakers blossom. After their time on the show is over, seeing them watch back their baking adventures together over a glass of wine, meeting up at parties, and even attending each others' weddings fills me with pure joy.
So who will be rising to the occasion and taking the cake for Bake Off series 10? The proof will be in the pudding/this article as soon as its announced.
The Great British Bake Off starts tonight on Channel 4 and continues on Tuesdays at 8pm.