The Great British Bake Off (known as The Great British Baking Show in the United States to appease the folks at Pillsbury) is back with a new season, giving Americans their first introduction to the show’s new cast of hosts. All 10 new episodes of Season 5 land on Netflix this Friday, August 31.
After the show made the move from BBC to Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, beloved hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins departed, as did judge Mary Berry, the sweet, octogenarian baking pro who would routinely tell successful competitors that they’ve cracked it. The new Bake Off hosts are comedians Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig OBE, and celebrity chef-restaurateur Prue Leith joins the returning Paul Hollywood at the judges’ table.
Leith, a native of South Africa and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, has touched many realms of the food world during her half-century of work. She operated an eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant, Leith’s, in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London from 1969 to 1995. She has founded two educational institutions, Leiths School of Food and Wine in London and Prue Leith Chefs Academy in South Africa. She’s written several cookbooks and regular food columns for multiple newspapers, and she’s no stranger to television, having served as a judge on BBC’s The Great British Menu and Channel 4’s My Kitchen Rules.
Fans of bizarre British humor may know Fielding from his work with the Mighty Boosh, a comedy troupe he helmed with Julian Barratt. From 1998 through 2013, the group produced shows for radio, television, and theater. The Mighty Boosh TV series came to the U.S. on Adult Swim in the mid-aughts, when Fielding endeared himself to young-adult millennials with his role playing Old Gregg. “I’m Old Gregg!” can be heard nostalgically exclaimed in social gatherings among 30-somethings to this day.
Toksvig has been on television in the U.K. since the early ’80s, appearing on improvisational series such as Call My Bluff, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Mock the Week, QI, and Have I Got News for You. The comedian has written more than 20 books, and her political activism includes the founding of the feminist Women’s Equality Party in 2015. Toksvig says the new cast has come together to form good chemistry, which must be reassuring to Bake Off fans who were nervous over the show’s upheaval.
“You know what it’s like when you have someone you work well with,” she told Hello magazine last year (spoilers). “Prue, Paul, and Noel and I have bonded in a phenomenally dysfunctional family, and I have rarely spent more easy and companionable time with people. It’s really been lovely.”
Two more new seasons of the show, plus a trio of holiday specials, are also headed to Netflix over the next few years. Stay tuned for more updates on The Great British Baking Show as they become available.
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