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The new series of the Great British Bake Off is here

From soggy bottoms tragically over-baked breads, the Great British Bake Off has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the country; last year the popular television programme was crowned the biggest entertainment hit of the year after 13 million viewers tuned in to watch the final, when Nancy beat John win the coveted title of master baker.

The new series promises even bigger bakes and harder technical challenges. Hosts Mel and Sue are back, along with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood who will judge each challenge on the road to master baker.

The new cast of 12-strong amateur bakers will gather in the tent each week to compete for star baker, and this year’s line up features more characters than ever. Among the contestants there is a prison governor from Wales, a professional musician, and a househusband who is also the Dalai Lama’s professional photographer when he visits the UK. It’s not just Britain being represented in this year’s cast – there are bakers that hail from Lithuania, Bangladesh, the West Indies and the Philippines.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Mary and Paul spoke about how the quality of the contestants has gone up each year:

“Without doubt they are far more skilled,” Mary said. “In the very first Bake Off, nobody knew what they were letting themselves in for. Now contestants realise they had better pull their socks up and practise, so they know what they’re doing.”

And while today it’s more popular than ever, what most viewers don’t know is that it nearly never happened at all – the show’s producers, Love Productions, spent 5 years pitching the show and had it turned down by other networks before finally being picked up by BBC2 in 2010.

What many commissioners saw as the show’s weakness turned out to be its best strength – less competitive and fast-paced as other shows in the reality TV genre, the Bake Off is all about regular people learning new skills and taking on a challenge. Viewers get to enjoy the thrill of the competition as well as the relaxed pleasure of watching people bake.

While the contestants have changed, the formula remains the same: over the course of ten episodes, we’ll watch the bakers compete in the signature bake, technical bake and showstopper bake as we get down to the final three. This year the bakers will take on classic everyday staples, as well as everything from Victorian delicacies, high end patisserie and even chocolate sculptures – plenty of mouthwatering entertainment for us to enjoy.

Catch the Great British Bake Off on BBC1 every Wednesday at 20:00 starting 5 August.

The Great British Bake Off

So tell us: are you excited for the new series of the Great British Bake Off? What are you most looking forward to this year?

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