Calm and cozy are not usually words you would use to describe a reality show, but The Great British Baking Show is not your typical reality show. There's no villain edit, no manufactured drama, and all the amateur bakers seem like genuinely lovely people. It's the perfect comfort TV show and we've never needed it more. There have been two big changes from last year, though. The delicious show is being filmed in a baking bubble due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the even bigger change is with The Great British Baking Show hosts.
Meet the Great British Baking Show Hosts
It's not the first time GBBO has had a host shakeup. After seven seasons, the show moved from the BBC to Channel 4, which also meant a move from broadcaster PBS to Netflix in the United States. When the show moved, judge Mary Berry and co-hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins stayed with BBC, leaving only judge Paul Hollywood as the original cast member. Chef Prue Leith stepped in, along with new hosts Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig. (We should note that Netflix has nine seasons while the show has 11 seasons, or series in British speak, total.)
In January, Toksvig announced that she would be leaving as co-host of the show (known as The Great British Bake Off in in the UK) to focus on other projects. Taking her spot next to co-host Fielding on this season of The Great British Baking Show is British comedian Matt Lucas. Lucas has appeared in films (Bridesmaids, Paddington) and TV shows (Doctor Who), but is best known for sketch comedy show Little Britain.
Fielding is also well-known in the UK for his work as part of the The Mighty Boosh comedy troupe. He's an artist and musician, as well as being an actor and stand-up comedian.
As someone who only recently became a hard-core fan of the show (I might have binged all of last season during a particularly stressful week), I love seeing the signature bake and the showstoppers from all the brilliant bakers. The technical challenge, on the other hand, is particularly terrifying for this absent-minded baker. Making six or eight of anything that looks and tastes exactly the same is definitely a challenge. (Also, rainbow bagels? Really, Paul?)
But the best thing really is the sense of kindness and British charm (and frequent cheeky innuendo) that permeates the show. These people all seem to like each other and like what they do.
Normally, GBBO seasons take place over 12 or 13 weeks and the contestants travel to the baking tent each weekend from their home to film new episodes. However, this year the baking competition was filmed in a bubble, with the contestants, judges, hosts and film crew staying together over six weeks of filming to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
Fun fact: What we didn't see here in the U.S. is that the first episode this season started 15 minutes late since it followed an address from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And that's why Matt Lucas kicked off the season and the show with a parody of the prime minister's speech.
Brush Up on Your British Baking
Stay calm and carry on, for the love of cake, pie and chocolate florentines indeed.
The new season of The Great British Baking Show, produced by Love Productions, is airing now on Netflix here in the U.S.
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