In Baking Tips

The History of the Great British Bake Off

We’re now four episodes into the ninth series of Britain’s most-loved baking competition and things are already heating up in the Bake-Off tent. For just under a decade, our weekly dose of baked goodies at this time of year has had us glued to our screens. But the Bake Off of today looks very different to the Bake Off of eight years ago.

From soggy bottoms to lavish bread lions, we take a closer look at the history of the Great British Bake Off in all of its glory.

Series one

The Bake Off first appeared on TV screens across Britain in 2010. It was a little different than the series we have come to know and love today, as the tent travelled around the country and there were only ten bakers, rather than twelve.

Series two 

Bake Off’s second series in 2011 was more like the Bake Off that we watch on our television screens today. Other than a certain squirrel stealing the limelight (let’s just say the video of the squirrel contains nuts), this series was notable because it ended with an all-female final. Plus, one contestant’s buns had so much icing and jam on them that they were dubbed “Frankenstein Buns”. We have to admit, they looked pretty tasty.

Series three

In 2012, the number of viewers of the Bake Off hit seven million. Which meant that possibly the largest ever number of people jumped up and down with frustration, when contestant John Whaite accidentally put salt instead of sugar into his rum babas. Opps.

Series four

BBC Two achieved its record number of viewers with ratings of 9.4 million during this series. Series four is probably most well known for “custardgate”, when one contestant accidentally used another’s, arguably better, custard in their trifle.

There was also a leak, which meant that many viewers knew who was going to win series four before the final episode even aired.

Series five

Its ever-increasing popularity meant that Bake Off was moved over to BBC One. This series included one of the most famous Bake-Off episodes of all time, when contestant Iain Watters threw his Baked Alaska into the bin in fury, as he believed it had been tampered with. The incident, dubbed “bingate”, meant that this episode hit the headlines in a way that no other had every done before.

No cake-baking incident before or since has ever caused this much controversy, which is why it’s number one on the 10 Most Phenomenal Great British Bake Off Fails Of All Time.

Series six

Now household name, Nadiya Hussain, won series six in 2015, to the delight of the record 15 million viewers watching the final. There was not a dry eye in the house after her victory speech.

But it wasn’t just Nadiya that made this series memorable. Bread Week brought us the most magnificent piece of lion-shaped bread we had ever seen, made by contestant Paul Jagger.

Series seven 

This was the last series that aired on the BBC, after it was announced that Bake Off would be making the controversial move over to Channel 4.

It was also Mary Berry, Mel and Sue’s last series, so although the episodes were filled with interesting contestants and great bakes, the series had an air of sadness hanging over it.

This year also saw winner Candice Brown make the most beautiful gingerbread pub. What could be better?

Series eight

Prue Leith joined Paul Hollywood for the first ever Bake Off to air on Channel 4. Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig replaced Mel and Sue and to many viewers’ pleasant surprise, seemed to be just as good.

Other than its move to another channel and the addition of ad breaks, this series wasn’t particularly memorable.

Series nine

Which brings us back to the present day. There’s already the controversy surrounding Biscuit Week, which was moved to the first episode, in place of Cake Week.

But with four episodes already under our belt, what lies ahead? Will there be any more changes? Only time will tell.

While we’re waiting, there’s only one thing to do. Get ready, get set, bake!

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