The mellowest culinary competition of them all, The Great British Baking Show, returns to PBS tonight for its fifth American season. But what stateside audiences will see this evening is actually a much different iteration of the hit show than the one that was recently on TV in the UK, where the program is known as The Great British Bake Off.
Nearly two years ago, when the wildly popular cooking program moved to a new UK network, the Bake Off lost kindly dessert virtuoso Mary Berry as a judge, and daffy aunts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins as hosts, leaving goateed pastry-know-it-all Paul Hollywood as the only original member of the cast. Fans were shocked by the shake-up, and some of them hated the creepy trailer for the new season of the show. But after the transition period, audiences eventually warmed up to new commentators Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, as well as Mary Berry’s replacement Prue Leith, and now everything seems harmonious under the big white tent in the English countryside.
The episodes that will start to air in America this week actually ran in the UK way back in 2012, when they were the third series of the Bake Off. And, to make things further confusing, these will actually be the oldest episodes to air in the United States, since the first four American seasons were series four through seven of the UK show. But the most important detail here, at least for fans of the show, is that American audiences will get to see 10 new episodes featuring the dream team hosting lineup of Paul, Mary, Sue, and Mel.
The Great British Baking Show Season 5 premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on PBS with back-to-back episodes, and the program will continue to run on Friday evenings throughout the summer. If you’re new to this television phenomenon, consider checking out Eater’s guide to appreciating the original Bake Off.
• The Great British Baking Show [PBS]
• All Coverage of the Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off [E]