The Great British Bake Off is set to return to our screens this month and we've found some delicious facts about the show you might not know to whet your appetite...
Are you ready to tie on your aprons? After Nadiya Hussain won the GBBO crown last year, The cheeky presenters Mel and Sue are about to serve up a new selection of amateur bakers for Series 7 of the BBC’s ever popular The Great British Bake Off, alongside our favourite judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
And to celebrate, we’ve found some state of the tart secret facts about what goes on in that famous tent in Welford Park during filming that will take your fondant fancy (sorry)!
* Mel and Sue have some excellent pet names for our favourite cookery writer. ‘We call her Bez or Bezzer most of the time,’ Mel Giedroyc says. ‘Or Mucky Mary,’ says Sue Perkins, ‘or Dirty
* It took Anna Beattie, creator of Bake Off, four years to get a channel to be interested in her show based on the idea of village fetes and an old-fashioned baking competition with
people who only wanted to bake a good cake.
* Thousands of hopeful bakers fill out a lengthy seven-page application form every year, confirming that they have no professional catering qualifications from the past 10 years, worked as a chef, or received their main source of income from commercial baking in a professional environment.
* If short-listed, applicants then have to pass a 45 minute telephone interview. The next stage is the first round of auditions when they bring two bakes along. After a screen test, 50 to 60 people are invited to a second audition, where they have to perform a technical challenge with cameras in their faces, to see if they can talk and bake at the same time. Finally, 12 contestants plus two understudies are chosen for the show (understudies can then apply again the following year).
* The contestants are picked up from their hotel in a bus nicknamed ‘The Bakers Bus’.
* Each day before filming starts, ovens are checked for temperature and a
Victoria sponge baked in each one to check it’s working properly.
* General ingredients such as sugar, freeze-dried raspberry powder, Malden salt, olive oil and butter are kept in plastic boxes or bottles because during series two, there was a
huge problem of sugar-addicted squirrels biting through packaging so
they now use plastic.
* It takes GBBO illustrator, Tom Hovey, around a week to produce and deliver
his beautiful bake drawings for each episode which have become such an
iconic part of the show.
* The show is now copied by over 20 countries across the globe including Poland, Turkey, Thailand, Brazil and the USA where Paul also heads up the show.
* GBBO is filmed over approximately 10 weeks through April and June. But they only film at weekends so the bakers can continue working during the week. Filming can take up to 16 hours per day with a crew of about 60 members.
* Bakes always get eaten afterwards, a ‘baker’s basket’ goes to the contestants’ lunchroom and then the crew get final dibs.
* Contestants normally have 12-20 ingredients per bake, but it varies – one finalist, Frances Quinn, had 124 for her cake in the final.
* A runner is positioned at the closest big supermarket every morning of baking, in case any bakers decide they need additional last minute ingredients.
* The show also employs home economists to do the washing up as they can’t use dishwashers because it’d be too noisy during filming.
* More than 800 complaints were lodged with the BBC over the controversial incident in Series 5 named ‘Bingate’, which involved contestant Iain Watters throwing away his Baked Alaska.
* Love Productions, the company behind GBBO, was sanctioned by
the BBC in September 2012 for the production placement of Smeg fridges.
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* Some viewers have complained about Mel and Sue’s innuendos throughout
the series, claiming the fifth series had ‘constant smutty remarks’. Personally, we love Paul’s ‘soggy bottom’!
* Image-conscious Paul Hollywood has a strict cake-free diet whilst he’s not on screen.
* BBC bosses have confirmed that there will be two Christmas specials in 2016 for baking buffs to look forward to featuring favourite past contestants.
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* The Great British Bake Off is now big business for the BBC and this year fans will have to wait until after The Olympics for the first screening of Series 7 so ratings are not compromised.
* And, if you can’t wait until then, you can download the new Great British Bake Off App full of baking recipes and helpful tips.
Love baking? We’ve taken inspiration from the GBBO tent interior with theses Great British Bake Off kitchen schemes for care-free baking.