In Depth

Bake Off to return with BBC Christmas special

Two special episodes will be programme's last hurrah before it transfers over to Channel 4

The Great British Bake Off will make a seasonal comeback with two episodes over the festive period.

Hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins will appear with judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood on The Great Christmas Bake Off, which features eight contestants from past series tackling a series of festive challenges.

"No clues have been given as to who the eight 'memorable bakers' will be," says the MailOnline, "but there are to be Christmas jumpers and festive challenges aplenty."

The London Evening Standard says news that the "beloved baking show" is to return is a bit of Christmas magic, before speculating the line-up could include Howard Middleton from series four and Cathryn Dresser, who came fifth in the third series.

Middleton will be well remembered for his inadvertent mishaps in the tent, says The Sun, which included Perkins elbowing one of his freshly baked muffins and fellow baker Deborah Manger stealing his custard. 

The paper refers to Dresser as the "bubbly baker" with the catchphrase "fridge and pray".

Writing in the Scottish Sun, Michelle Higgins says the two former contestants have both enjoyed success following their appearance on the baking show. Middleton regularly appears on food shows across the country, while Dresser has released a children's cookbook.

Higgins even wonders if the Christmas special could herald a return for "cake whisperer" Val Stones, from the last series, or Edward Kimber, the debt collector who won the very first Bake Off in 2010.

The next series of the show will be on Channel 4, which in September agreed a three-year deal to broadcast Bake Off. Only Hollywood has joined the new line-up.

The Great British Bake Off 2016: Who will win?

26 October

Mary Berry has been stoking anticipation, telling BBC Radio 2 the contest was "the most difficult one we've ever had".

However, fan excitement has been marred by the news the GBBO franchise will move to Channel 4 without Mary and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who will remain at the BBC. Viewers will probably have to wait until 2018 to get their next baking fix.

However, the fact this will be the last ever BBC Bake Off only gives an extra element of prestige to tonight's finale – and ratchets up the tension.

So who is tipped to win the trophy?

Candice Brown

Candice is the bookies' favourite to take the title tonight. The glamorous PE teacher has won Star Baker three times, more than any other contestant in the seventh series, and impressed the judges with her highly ambitious bakes, from a marzipan peacock to a gingerbread pub complete with sticky carpet.

Bookies' odds: Williams Hill 2/7, Betway 4/11

Andrew Smyth

Aerospace engineer Andrew has improved each week and last week showed off his patisserie skills with cheesy elephant ears and philharmonic fondants. As well as baking prowess, he's brought bags of good humour and positive energy to the tent, says Heidi Stephens in The Guardian. "He's clearly so delighted to be there, how can you not want to nudge him over the finish line?" she asks.

Bookies' odds: William Hill 4/1, Betway 3/1

Jane Beedle

Garden designer Jane has kept a relatively low profile so far, "preferring to take a back seat while the young'uns and larger-than-life characters hog the limelight", says the Daily Telegraph. "But Jane Beedle has been the most consistent performer." Nevertheless, she lags behind Candice and Andrew in the odds - but not by much, suggesting it is still very much a three-way race.

Bookies' odds: William Hill 11/2, Betway 4/1

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