When the producers of the The Great British Bake Off announced that the show would be switching networks and losing three of its main stars — Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc, and Sue Perkins — fans of the UK cooking competition show lost their damn minds. The announcement of replacement hosts Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig didn’t do much to quell their fears that the show was headed in the wrong direction. And a creepy, universally panned teaser for the new series with barfing anthropomorphized biscuits seemed like a warning to fans of the old show to avoid Bake Off 2.0 at all costs.
But now, Channel 4’s new iteration of the program has officially made its UK debut, and the early word is actually... pretty great? Many of the critics point to the fact that the contestants are the heart and soul of the show, and this is a particularly charming bunch of bakers. But Guardian critic Lucy Mangan has some nice things to say about the new hosts and judges, too. “Prue Leith replaces Mary Berry, so we still have our experienced matriarch taking care of business,” Mangan writes. “Sandi Toksvig has Sue Perkins’ wit, sheathed to the same decorous degree, and Noel Fielding has Mel Giedroyc’s warmth as well as humour.” And in his five-star review, Telegraph critic Michael Hogan notes: “Mary, Mel, and Sue might be gone but the show’s recipe remains as winning as ever.“
Some fans are complaining about the glut of commercial breaks on the new network, but that’s not deterring people from tuning in, either. 5.8 million people watched the premiere last week, which is lower than many Bake Off debuts from years past, but BBC notes that it won Channel 4 “its biggest overnight audience since the Paralympics Opening Ceremony in 2012.” No word yet on when American audiences will be able to see the new version of the show.
In other Bake Off news, Paul Hollywood, the only member of the original show to make the trip from the BBC to Channel 4, is opening a new “high quality” bakery in a London train station that will serve sweet pastries, sausage rolls, and breakfast “butties.” Eater London observes: “The sliced white in the promo pictures certainly seems to challenge the ‘high quality’ assertion.”
• ‘Great British Bake Off’ Is Still a Treat for Many Viewers [NYT]
• Great British Bake Off review – right where I want to be when the bombs start falling [Guardian]
• The Great British Bake Off, review [Telegraph]
• Bake Off’s Paul Hollywood Is Opening a Bakery in Euston Station [Eater London]
• All Bake Off Coverage [E]