The first episode of season 10 has seen Bake Off back at its best, with innuendos aplenty, tears after failed challenges and Paul Hollywood dressed as the tin man.
But what does someone who has previously battled her way through the marquee of dreams really make of this series? Join our columnist, 2017 Bake Off winner Sophie Faldo, in what she makes of each week’s events, including who she thinks will rise to the occasion, and who only put in a half-baked performance…
“It’s a shame…the older bakers tend to be the real characters”
The age of the cast is a bit disappointing. In every other year, they’ve followed a template, but this year Phil is the oldest at 56. Everyone else is pretty much in their twenties and thirties.
They’ve cast different personalities and backgrounds, so it’s still a spread, but it’s a bit of a shame as older contestants do tend to be the real characters. I know there’s sometimes a worry that they may not be able to handle the pressure as well, but I know Flo (Atkins, 2017 contestant and the oldest Bake Off contestant ever) did really well. And Bake Off does make sure that the people they cast can handle it. There’s lots of things they do, including speaking to a psychiatrist before filming. They don’t just bring anyone into the fold, as it would be horrible to watch and horrible on the contestant. I guess now it’s a case of personality over age.
“The innuendo definitely has its place”
There was w*****g off a rocket. I love it! Some worry that innuendos make the show too adult, but if you’re a kid, it goes straight over your head, and if you’re an adult, it’s funny. Bake Off wouldn’t be the same without them. It’s always the unintentional ones that are the funniest, like when Prue [Leith] said she was dribbling.
I had a similar one in week one where I made a champagne bottle. As soon as they saw me do it, I had four cameras descend on me and then Noel [Fielding] came and made a smutty joke.
“The pressure is definitely on this year”
Jamie didn’t have a great day, but that’s the nature of the competition. Everyone deserves to be there and everyone is really good, but sometimes it’s a case of whoever has a terrible day ends up going home.
Helena is likely to fold under the pressure too, as she cant handle the stress as well as her competitors. I think she’ll be gone relatively soon.
Prue and Paul will not absolutely crucify you if something’s not turned out properly, as they’re more interested in how things taste in that respect, so I think it’s realising what is important to the judges and not being overly meticulous.
But with two bakers potentially going home at one stage, it will make them even more nervous. In other series, if you had a terrible day, as long as someone else had a terrible day, then you were okay. It definitely raises the stakes and makes it a bit more ruthless, so the pressure is on and I really feel for them. They need to be careful with the knives too as they’re absolutely razor sharp and we were all covered in blue plasters. I didn’t succumb until week five when I was cutting up meat for a pie, but it was pretty funny – the paramedic had his work cut out.
I didn’t get extra time. There are occasions, if it’s the fault of the production – me and Julia had a freezer break down – but a cut would be considered your fault. You bleed into your own time, I’m afraid, but they make sure it’s very fair.
“There’s already one stand-out contestant”
I’m really interested in Henry. I just think he’s really meticulous and he’s got the right amount of ambition in his bakes, but he’s got the technical ability to pull them off. He’ll definitely be in the final. He’s 100 per cent capable of winning. The fact he was drawing out the royal icing on that grid, that is very impressive to do so early on.
“Healthy baking is just not worth it”
David’s fat-free fruit cake isn’t something I would do as I don’t think it’s worth it. It takes a lot of effort and ingenuity to make something that tastes as good as the real thing. I think he just about got away with it this time, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it. I think there’s definitely more of a nod in Bake Off to the rising popularity of food trends, but I always say cook the full fat version. As Prue says, it’s got to be worth the calories – there’s no point eating anything that wouldn’t taste good.
The Great British Bake Off continues Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4