My Celebrity Life

Great British Bake Off: 16 things you never knew

A lot happens on Bake Off that you don’t see on TV (Picture: Channel 4)

The Great British Bake Off has been warming our TV viewing hearts since 2010, initially starting out on the BBC, complete with Mel and Sue and Mary Berry, before landing in its current home on Channel 4 – and remaining as popular as ever.

The current series is in full swing – once again having been filmed in a Covid-safe bubble over the summer – with this year’s bakers having shown us their finest focaccia, defied gravity with their cake showstoppers, and worked wonders with biscuit creations.

Of course, there are notable differences in the pandemic-era show – but there’s still a whole lot going on off-camera that we never get to see.

Do the contestants get a budget for ingredients? Can they eat their food when they’ve made it?

Just what does happen behind the scenes of Bake Off?

Here are just some of the regulations that all bakers need to stick to…

Applications close in January

If you want to stand a chance of being on the show, applications normally close around January.

Applications for the next series have yet to open online, but keep an eye on this website for details when they do.

The application process is long

You can’t skimp on the detail in your application. According to former winner Sophie Faldo, the form is seven pages long and you have to detail all of your signature bakes in it – bread, cakes, biscuits, the lot.

Contestants have to go through a lengthy application process (Picture: Channel 4)

There is a minimum age

You have to be over 16 years old to apply – and to be resident in the United Kingdom.

The proof is in the pudding

Your baking has to pass muster at the first interview, bringing two of your favourie bakes along. ‘You can bring anything you like,’ Sophie Faldo told Radio Times. ‘Producers advise that one bake should be sweet and the other be savoury.’

Baking irl

It doesn’t end there though – as the final round of interviews sees prospective contestants having to actually bake something in person, in front of the cameras.

Semi-finalist Beca Lyne-Pirkis recommends doing your research and knowing your stuff: ‘You need to be able to do a bit of everything, with a bit of creativity and flair – different but not too different.

Down to the wire

If you become one of the chosen 12, you usually will only find out about six weeks or so before filming begins – which only gives you a short amount of time to choose your bakes and have them approved by production.

Amateur hour

You’re not allowed to take part in the show if you’ve been a professional chef, cook or baker or received any kind of qualification in any of those professions – it’s for amateur bakers only, and they mean it. And you have to undergo a background check before you take part also, to ensure your application is correct.

It’s time consuming

Those who take part have to be able to commit to all of the days of filming, as well as being able to commit to appearing on the spin-off show An Extra Slice post-elimination.

No phones allowed

Mobile phones are a no-no in the tent, as former contestant Karen has previously explained: ‘The main thing is no mobile phones, so you can’t sneak a camera in.

‘That was like a phone policy every morning, you had to hand it in and you got it back when you got on the bakers’ bus back to the hotel.’

Rewear your looks

For continuity’s sake the bakers also have to wear the same clothes for the two days that each episode is filmed.

Former finalist Kim-Joy Hewlett told the Express: ‘I know that we have to wear the same outfits but I don’t know the actual reason why – but I’ve heard lots of different reasons. ‘It’s nice for continuity to have everyone in the same thing.’

The show is now in its fifth season on Channel 4 (Picture: Channel 4)

You don’t get paid

Bakers don’t get paid for taking part in the show, nor do they get reimbursed for their ingredients used during the audition process.

However, Sophie Faldo explained that they are given an ‘allowance’ if they do make it to the tent. ‘You’re essentially given expenses,’ she said. ‘You’re given an allowance for however many shows you do to source the ingredients.’

Every baker has to inform a producer before they remove something from the oven so the moment can be caught on camera.

Frances Quinn, who won the show in 2013, previously told Cosmopolitan: ‘Obviously at the beginning, there’s more of us than [cameramen], but they want a camera on you every time you’re going in the oven, looking in the oven, bringing something out of the oven.

‘The thing is to not express when something goes wrong – that’s when the camera will be on you. You just have to not let them know.’

Long days

Expect long days if you do make it on to the show – with contestants often filming for up to 16 hours – and you can forget about getting a lie-in, since bakers are in the tent by 7am on filming days.

As Frances Quinn explained: ‘We had to get a train down on the Friday and we’d have a wake up call at 5am, we’d be in the tent at 7am. We’d wrap filming at about 8pm and then it would be the same again the next day.

‘I’d get back at about midnight on the Sunday. It’s not just a two-hour bake with a few buttercups.’

Frances Quinn revealed just how long filming days are (Picture: BBC)

Ovens are tested daily

A Victoria sandwich is baked in every oven, every day, to ensure they are working properly before the bakers get their hands on them.

Nobody wants their chances ruined by a faulty oven, after all.

Ingredients to spare

There are always spare ingredients on hand. Chief home economist Faenia Moore previously told BBC Good Food: It’s not practical to buy too much, but I know at this stage what people might need more of. We also have tons of eggs, butter, sugar, flour – all the basics.’

Although it’s not unheard of for contestants to have more unusual requests: ‘Some have started using things like isomalt, which is a sugar substitute used for decorations – it’s very “cheffy”,’ Moore explained. ‘One year everyone went nus for pistachio nibs because they look so good.’

At least none of them have to worry about washing up (Picture: Channel 4)

Working at the cake wash

As for the washing-up – contestants don’t have to spend time doing that themselves – there is someone on hand to take care of the cake batter-stained bowls and used crockery, as well as two sinks – a dishwasher would prove too disruptive to filming.

Have your cake and eat it, too

And in case you’re wondering, yes the bakers do get to taste their own bakes. Moore told BBC Good Food: ‘It’s important for the bakers to eat what they’ve slaved over, so after each challenge I make up a “baker’s basket” to go to their lunchroom.

‘Then any leftovers go to the crew’s lunch. Everyone gets quite excited.’

The Great British Bake Off continues on Tuesday night on Channel 4 at 8pm.

Credit: Original article published here.

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