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

Is Mary Berry's departure the end of The Great British Bake Off?

22 September

Mary Berry has announced she will leave The Great British Bake Off "out of loyalty to the BBC" when it moves from the broadcaster to Channel 4 next year.

But fellow judge Paul Hollywood will remain with the show, a spokesperson has confirmed. The celebrity baker has signed a deal to continue judging for the next three series, reports Radio Times.

He will be the only one of the team to make the switch - presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins announced last week they would stay with the BBC.

Berry, who has been elevated to national treasure status through the show, said:  "What a privilege and honour it has been to be part of seven years of magic in a tent - The Great British Bake Off. The Bake Off family - Paul, Mel and Sue - have given me so much joy and laughter.

"My decision to stay with the BBC is out of loyalty to them, as they have nurtured me, and the show, that was a unique and brilliant format from day one. I am just sad for the audience who may not be ready for change. I hope they understand my decision."

Hinting at the possibility of commissioning a Bake Off rival, BBC 1 controller Charlotte Moore said: "I've been very lucky to have had the pleasure of working with Mary over the last seven years and I'm so pleased that relationship will continue.

"She is an inspiration to generations, a real icon and I can't wait to cook up more unmissable shows with her in the future."

The real question is where this leaves Channel 4? The broadcaster has splashed out a reported £25m a year for the rights to the programme but without Mary, Mel and Sue, it's not quite clear what form it will take.

Many commentators believe this might be the end for the show.

"By the time the changeover actually happens, the BBC will have aired the show’s final swansong, viewers would have mourned the end of their favourite weeknight treat and everyone will have accepted that the programme was done with," says Duncan Lindsey for Metro.

"When Channel 4 then rolls out their own version, which will be Great British Bake Off in name alone, people may tune in initially to watch the car crash unfold – and then Channel 4 will undoubtedly realise that a show can only maintain its already unexpected success if every component remains in place."

Great British Bake Off: Will it go off the boil on Channel 4?

13 September

Channel 4 has snapped up the rights to the Great British Bake Off – and viewers aren't happy.

The BBC lost the hit baking show after refusing to pay £25m a year to hold on to the programme after its current seventh season. Love Productions, the company that produces Bake Off, said it had failed to secure a deal with the national broadcaster and had signed a contract with Channel 4, which offered more money.

BBC media correspondent David Sillito says the show's judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, and presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, have only just been told about the news. Negotiations with them have yet to begin.

The BBC had offered to double its current payment to around £12.5m, but couldn't meet the fourfold increase to £25m, reports the Daily Telegraph. It adds that Love Productions rejected bigger offers from both Netflix and ITV.

In a statement, Channel 4 said that it might air a celebrity version of the show next year in aid of Stand up to Cancer.

The news prompted a range of responses from commentators and viewers. Some were light-hearted.

Some suggested new presenters.

But most viewers were upset.

And Sherlock's Mark Gatiss was clearly very angry.

Gatiss is not alone, says The Sun, which reported that a host of "horrified" celebrities including Lord Sugar, Kirsty Allsopp and Nick Robinson have also blasted the move.

None of the Bake Off stars have commented publicly yet. But The Sun suggests that co-host Sue Perkins "hinted at her upset" by retweeting the BBC statement describing how it had "grown and nurtured" the show over seven series.

Even worse, Digital Spy suggests the move to a new channel may mean there is no Bake Off next year. The website says the BBC's contract with Bake Off's makers Love Productions includes a clause stating there has to be a year's break if the show goes to another network. So that could mean a sugar-free 2017.

The Great British Bake Off: Are Candice's hopes dashed?

8 September

The seventh series of The Great British Bake Off, which returned to BBC One on 24 August, is heating up as some of the UK's most passionate amateur bakers come under increasing pressure in the kitchen. This week not everybody rose to meet the Bread Challenge. 

Judge Paul Hollywood revealed his mean streak, one contestant met her downfall and another pulled a gorgeous last-minute save out of the oven.

Tom Gillford

This week's Star Baker, baby-faced Tom, has a taste for unusual ingredients. Last week he won Paul's handshake for his chai frapelattechino biscuits and this week he impressed the judges again, turning out an "excellent" signature, coming fourth in the technical and upping the ante on experimental ingredients such as chilli, stout and seaweed.  

Andrew Smyth

Some thought it was the adorable aerospace engineer Andrew who should have won the crown this week. After all, he beat Tom in the technical and impressed with that woven basket showstopper, which he then wore as a hat. Andrew's been a steady performer throughout and dazzled judges with his gingerbread showstopper last week, so he's definitely one to watch.

Candice Brown

Last week's Star Baker suffered an embarrassing slump last night. The glamorous PE teacher, who narrowly survived being sent home this week, fell below par with underbaked bread, hours after Hollywood warned that the "last thing I want to see is raw dough".  She ended up in tears when the judge refused to even try her chocolate bread. And despite coming third in the technical, the best Paul could say of her Dumpfnoodles was "it was edible".

Jane Beedle

Garden designer Jane was the first person this series to be named Star Baker. Despite a so-so week in the Biscuit Challenge, she impressed judges this week with her chorizo and pesto loaves. She's still in with a chance.

Benjamina Ebuehi 

The departure of Michael now makes Benjamina the youngest baker in the kitchen. She was also starting to look like she might get the chop until she put her last-minute saviour – a "gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous" showstopper – in front of the judges.

Kate Barmby

The Norfolk nurse and perfectionist likes a challenge and impressed last week with her gingerbread Brownie camp. This week she revealed her positive attitude during the Dumpfnoodle exercise, admitting: "I don't know what I'm doing so if I get it horribly wrong, it doesn't really matter." She also isn't afraid to stir in some double entendres, declaring: "I'm a bloomers 'n' baps girl." And when Sue asked, "How are your balls?", Kate replied: "I'm just pinching their bottoms."

Rav Bansal

University support worker Rav found little joy in the biscuit round last week, but got some praise this week for his cardamom chocolate bread. However, his stocks fell later on when he turned out some undercooked dough. Still, he showed his sensitive and comradely side when he comforted Candice after her baking disaster.

Val Stones

Things looked bad for Val last week when her gingerbread New York cityscape collapsed and she seemed to be on the way out. But the baker, who this week cut her finger and is known for forgetting ingredients, managed to get our attention with an eccentric Noah's Ark themed centerpiece featuring elephants and giraffes... even if they were mistaken for slugs and chickens. 

Selasi Gbormittah

Banker Selasi won fans early on with his ultra laidback style, but things started to crumble in biscuit week. This week he showed a talent for spin when his clearly burnt buns were passed off as "caramelised", insisting "I like it crispy." But after admitting he is a "rogue baker" who doesn't follow recipes, we have doubts about whether he has the right stuff to win.

Michael Georgiou – OUT

The Cyprus-born student likes to experiment with flavours but the shot of Zivania, a 45 per cent proof spirit that he served with his bread-based celebration of Cypriot independence, was a step too far and had Paul Hollywood clutching the table. It also failed to make up for his "messy" bread, so it was so long and good night.

Louise Williams – OUT 

Poor Louise, the hairdresser from Cardiff, left the tent in week two following a series of bake-astrophes. She dropped one lot of biscuits, ran out of time and courted disaster by saying that the gingerbread church she was making depicted her upcoming wedding – before the structure completely collapsed.

Lee Banfield – OUT

Church minister Lee, the oldest contestant this year at 67, was the first to leave the competition after producing a series of "dry" bakes. His drizzle cake lacked moisture and his showstopper was deemed "too simple".

Great British Bake Off: Five highlights from first night

25 August

The Great British Bake Off's seventh series kicked off on BBC One last night, with a stirring opening episode that saw twinkly-eyed Paul Hollywood and sweet Mary Berry once again pass judgement on 12 eager contestants battling it out to become the UK's best amateur baker. Here are some of the highlights:

Cake carnage

The signature challenge took the bakers back to basics with a drizzle cake. "Harmless enough, you might think, but it was a bit of a bloodbath," says Tim Dowling in The Guardian. By the end, almost half the contestants were sporting blue bandages on cut fingers. Then came the technical - jaffa cakes, which was "a bit like telling MasterChef finalists to do fish fingers", he adds. But it wasn't easy and the results prompted Hollywood to say one batch was "uniform…ly bad". Finally, there was the showstopper, which proved "there are about a million ways you can screw up a glazed mirror cake", declares Dowling.

Star Baker barneys

"Bake Off wouldn't be Bake Off without some furious, impassioned debate…and this series is no exception," says Michael Hogan in the Daily Telegraph. One episode in and viewers are already claiming the Star Baker title should have gone to the "admirably chilled" Selasi Gbormittah rather than Jane Beedle. The competition is still wide open, however, as Jane has already admitted she's bad at macarons and ciabatta.

A crush

Everyone is in love with Selasi, says Sarah Doran in the Radio Times. The banker rode in on his motorbike and "took the internet by storm with his smooth Superman-esque moves". All he needed to do was show up and viewers "crumbled faster than a fine digestive in a mug of tea". He forgot to put the cinnamon in his drizzle cake, but it didn't matter, and when everyone else was pulling their hair out over jaffa cakes, he "was cooler than a correctly frozen Baked Alaska". He didn't get the Star Baker crown this week, but he seems to be doing just fine.

Good losers

Even the first week sees a contestant leave and this time round it was 67-year-old pastor Lee Banfield, this season's oldest competitor. He didn't last long, but many believed it was the right decision after he turned out a dry drizzle cake, finished second-last in the technical and turned out a showstopper that was far too simple. "I worried about Lee from the start," says Jan Moir in the Daily Mail, adding: "Where is God when you need Him?"

Lashings of innuendo

The opening episode was "laden with innuendo", says Andy Halls in The Sun, with a sex toy joke within the first 20 seconds. The show started with presenter Mel Giedroyc looking through a picnic basket and "finding" something she shouldn't, at which co-host Sue Perkins warned: "That's from home. Don't touch it. I don't know why that's there. Sorry." A "glut of comments with naughty undertones" followed, with the two hosts taking great pleasure in their repeated advice to keep their bakes "moist" and telling Welsh hairdresser Louise Williams, when she presented her two mounded cake pieces round-side up: "They look lovely. They're the sort of Page 3 of drizzle."

The Great British Bake Off is on BBC1 on Wednesdays at 8pm.  


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