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 final: who is going to win?

6 October

Anticipation is rising like a hot sponge cake as three contestants line up to battle it out in the final of The Great British Bake Off this week.

The show is expected to be one of the most watched of the year with more than ten million viewers, and it seems everyone has an opinion and a favourite – but who is most likely to win?

The three finalists - Ian Cumming, Nadiya Hussain, and Tamal Ray - have each survived ten weeks of signature challenges, soggy bottoms and sticky situations under the watchful eyes of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood

They have all endeared themselves to the public in some way - through their charm, their talent or their determination - but only one can be crowned Bake Off champion. Even Mary Berry says it's going to be "extremely close".

Here is a closer look at the finalists and their chances:

Ian Cumming

Ian, a Cambridgeshire father-of-two, was the early bookies' favourite after he picked up the Star Baker title three times in a row. The Great-Wilbraham-based travel photographer also became the Dalai Lama's official photographer during his UK visit.

Ian's highlights have included a stunning Charlotte russe during Victorian Week, which prompted Mary Berry to exclaim "gorblimey", and a Roadkill Pie – made with partridge, venison and guinea fowl, but apparently no actual roadkill.

Cumming became embroiled in a row over his creme brulee, after it was claimed he had been tutored by the head of catering at Cambridge University's Trinity College. Also, he only just made it into the final. His odds are 4/1 at William Hill.

Nadiya Hussain

Nadiya is the current bookies' favourite and has even received an unexpected endorsement from Prime Minister David Cameron. Pint-sized Nadiya (she's 4 feet 11 inches), is the daughter of Bangladeshi migrants, and lives in Leeds with her husband Abdal and their young children.

She has also won the Star Baker title three times, and her highlights include cheesecake towers, which Paul Hollywood called "ingenious", and a stunning chocolate peacock in the semi-final.

Speaking at the Tory conference this week, Cameron said Nadiya was his favourite to win the show. The Prime Minister, who says he likes to unwind by watching Bake Off, said he thought Nadiya was "so cool under pressure". Her odds of winning are currently rated 2/5 on William Hill.

Tamal Ray

Tamal may have only won the Star Baker title once, but the public seem to have fallen in love with the doe-eyed trainee anaesthetist. However, some female fans were disappointed when the single Tamal recently revealed that if he wasn't so busy, he'd be looking for a boyfriend.

Tamal is known for his good humour and calm approach even when things don't go according to plan. He was introduced to baking by his sister, who was so impressed with his skills, she asked him to make her wedding cake.

Tamal also impressed the judges with some top notch chocolate work on his Black Forest Gateau. His odds are currently 5/1 at William Hill

The Great British Bake Off final airs on Wednesday 7 October at 8pm on BBC One.

Great British Bake Off: record audience expected for tense final

1 October 2015

Four bakers entered the tent for the Great British Bake Off's semi-final yesterday, but only three will return next week. It was Highlands teenager Flora Shedden who got the boot in last night's episode, leaving Tamal, Nadiya and Ian to battle it out in the traditional village-fete-themed grand finale.

Despite coming first in the technical challenge with a perfect chocolate soufflé, Flora was underwhelming in the signature and showstopper rounds, sealing her fate by presenting Mary Berry with a baking-soda-heavy sponge which sent the 80-year-old judge into a coughing fit. Ian only narrowly escaped the chop, failing to wow the judges with a chocolate well that lacked the flourishes befitting a semi-final showstopper.

Meanwhile, Nadiya came out on top to win Star Baker, despite a poor showing in the soufflé challenge which left her in tears. Her intricate chocolate peacock showstopper sent Paul and Mary into raptures, while her chocolate signature bake earned the rare and coveted Paul Hollywood handshake.

In stark contrast to the gentle pace of earlier rounds, this was a "tense episode full of twists and turns", says Michael Hogan in the Daily Telegraph, making for "nail-biting, tightly edited, tick-tocking television". Indeed, as the spectre of the final loomed large in the contestants' minds, the semis saw more than the average numbers of panicked outbursts, hasty piping and despairing tears. The show's attempts to ratchet viewers' nerves further was all too much for The Guardian's Heidi Stephens. "Can we stop with the tension-building percussion, please?" she begged.

Although ratings took a brief dip when GBBO went up against Coronation Street's much-hyped live episode last week, it remains the most popular series of the show yet, with around 12 million viewers tuning in every week. Last year, 13.5 million saw Nancy Birtwhistle take the Bake Off crown, making it the most-watched UK broadcast of 2014 after the World Cup. Can this year's finale draw in an even higher number?

"The show is addictive, and a record audience is expected for next week's final," says the Daily Mail's Christopher Stevens, "but no one is expecting it to be relaxing television."

Great British Bake Off: can Tamal beat Nadiya on GBBO?

24 September

Tamal Ray and Nadiya Jamir Hussain look increasingly likely to be the two battling it out for this year's Great British Bake Off prize after their rivals came under fire for subpar cream horns and misjudged mokatines in last night's quarter final.

Tamal has been riding high for the last few weeks, and headed into the quarter final as Star Baker. But, despite his legion of Twitter devotees proving loyal as ever, this was a firmly mediocre week for the good doctor. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry liked his delicately-flavoured cream horns, but Tamal then blotted his copybook by coming a measly fourth in the technical challenge. 

Nadiya, on the other hand, put on a dazzling display of skill, scooping first prize in both the signature and technical challenges. At the end of the episode, Tamal ceded his Star Baker title to Nadiya – is it a sign of things to come? 

"With two weeks to go, Nadiya is now looking extremely strong for Great British Baker," says the Huffington Post's Caroline Frost, "even if many of the nation's hearts still belong firmly in Tamal's pocket."

For the first few weeks of this year's Great British Bake-Off, it was hard to gauge a favourite – the contestants' performances varied from week to week, with no-one breaking out of the pack. 

The Daily Mail's Liz Jones even complained the show had "gone off the boil" and "fallen flat". Finally, in week seven of the show, Manchester anaesthesiologist Tamal Ray emerged as a strong contender for the title. 

Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry were bowled over by his Middle Eastern-inspired game pie and perfect Charlotte russe, naming him this week's Star Baker.

Tamal's self-deprecating humour, talent in the kitchen, and – judging by many of the comments flooding Twitter – boyish good looks, have also been causing a stir among the show's devoted viewers.

It all came to a head when the 29-year-old was finally award the coveted Star Baker badge in week seven. 

Viewers swamped Twitter with comments, pictures and memes celebrating his victory, and Cosmopolitan even came up with a handy article listing 'Twelve signs your Tamal crush is getting out of hand'.

After having the award bestowed on him, Tamal further delighted his fans by pulling out his phone to call his mum, who screamed with excitement upon hearing the good news.

The man himself took to Twitter shortly after the broadcast to thank his legions of admirers.

Gems Tamal has shared with his 22,000 followers so far include a tweet about making daisy chains with Mel and Sue, and another cursing the pita breads which tripped him up in week five.

Among the soft-spoken trainee doctor's fans is last year's GBBO winner Nancy Birtwhistle. "There’s something about Tamal’s quiet confidence that I like," she wrote in the Daily Telegraph, praising his "steady pace". 

Given that it was Nancy's own "steady pace" which finally gave her the edge over rival Richard Burr's flashy creations last year, what better endorsement could Tamal hope for?

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