The Great British Bake Off is returning to our screens next week, with the cast and crew having lived in a “self-contained biosphere” for the duration of filming to allow the beloved competition show to go ahead.
But according to a producer on the show, production was almost put on hold after someone on set began to show potential symptoms of the virus and had to be tested.
Speaking in this week’s issue of Radio Times, The Great British Bake Off producer Kieran Smith said, “Somebody spoke to our medical team because they were showing symptoms that could have been COVID.
“We had very strict protocols about what to do. They were isolated immediately, as was anyone who had been in close contact with them. They were tested immediately. We paused filming for an afternoon. The test came back negative and we resumed filming the next day.”
“We were lucky,” he added, “but it felt it like we would need to be extremely unlucky for it to be positive.”
Smith explained that organising the biosphere for the show was incredibly complicated, with the 12 contestants having originally been selected – and production all set to begin as usual – before the virus had began to rapidly spread.
“Bake Off is normally filmed across 12 or 13 weeks, predominantly at weekends, and that’s what the bakers were told would happen at the start,” he said.
“But within a month we asked, ‘Can you take six weeks off work and come and live in a biosphere?’ Everything was complicated, everything was different, but everybody wanted to do it.”
But despite the complications, he said that eventually the biosphere proved to be a huge success – and even offered an improvement on situations for some of the cast and crew.
“Noel [Fielding] felt a lot happier in the bubble than he did in the real world,” he remarked. “He’d pretty much been shielding in one location for several months, so the ability to walk in a green space and be able to talk to people face to face was liberating.
“It was the same with quite a few others. By the end, I was desperate to get out, but there was a freedom to it as well.”