The Great British Bake Off 2019 will this month open its tent to viewers, with Channel 4 serving up a whole new baker’s dozen of contestants. And you’ve probably noticed something a bit odd about them: they’re VERY young.
It’s not just your imagination: not only do this year’s competitors look particularly fresh-faced, but with an average age of just 31.3 years old, the class of 2019 is officially Bake Off’s youngest ever batch.
That’s six years below the average age of all Bake Off contestants to compete during the show’s decade on air (37.4 years).
While the youngest competitor of the 2018 series was 26 years old (looking at you, Manon), this year’s tent will welcome three contestants below that age: fashion designer Amelia (24), part-time waiter Jamie (20) and English literature student Henry (20).
To put that in perspective, Henry first became interested in the show after seeing series two of the competition filmed by his local school in Redbridge.
“I used to see Paul Hollywood when I walked past the tent to go to school in the mornings, so I really got into it,” he said. “I told Paul that I remembered him filming series two. So he knew I had come full circle and was now in the tent, and that was pretty special.”
Sure, none of the 2019 competitors are as youthful as series five’s Martha Collison, who entered the show aged only 17 in 2014. But the oldest member of the 2019 cast, lorry driver Phil, is only 56 years old – this makes him the sole baker this year to be older than host Noel Fielding (46). The next oldest competitor is Helena, at 40 years old.
So, why is Channel 4 serving up such a youthful batch of bakers? One possibility is that Bake Off wants to reflect their fanbase, with 6.8 million viewers aged 16-34 tuning in last year. In fact, in 2018 The Great British Bake Off was Channel 4’s most-watched show for young people, with a share up 146 per cent against the slot norm. It’s numbers like this that make advertisers very happy indeed.
But whatever the reason, you can expect several batches of younger bakers to grace the GBBO in the coming months. And we mean a lot. Earlier this year, Channel 4 announced 40 bakers aged between nine and 15 will be trying to impress judges Prue Leith and Bake Off alumni Liam Charles in a new Junior Bake Off show.
But as much as we’d like to see it, all the competitors won’t storm the tent at once. They’ll battle it out across 10 heats, presided by host Harry Hill, with only four bakers eventually making it all the way to the grand final.
Does this competition pour too much pressure on children? Well, look at it this way: at the current rate, even if they don’t win the junior contest, any school-aged baker could find themselves competing on the main show soon enough.
The Great British Bake Off will return to Channel 4 on Tuesday 27th August at 8pm