Great British Bake Off: 17 things you didn’t know about the hit series

It's that time of year again...

Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith

by Kayleigh Dray and Tiffany Wallis |

Bake Off fans rejoiced this week as Channel 4 dropped their first official trailer for the 2021 series.

As one of the only British series to go ahead as normal during the pandemic, it's thankfully only been a year since the last time we saw Britian's best and most imaginative bakers enter the tent, but that doesn't mean we're not still absolutely ravenous for some wholesome telly this september.

As we prepare to indulge in our favourite cooking show, here's 17 things you didn't know about the Great British Bake Off.

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Great British Bake Off: Everything you need to know

1. Anyone can apply for Bake Off
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CREDIT: Channel 4

Except professional bakers or chefs!Applications are open to any UK resident over the age of 16. However they cannot make their main source of income from commercial baking and entrants can't have worked as a professional chef or baker at any point. Plus, applicants cannot have acquired any professional catering qualifications in the last ten years

2. The GBBO application form is l-o-n-g
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CREDIT: Channel 4

It's seven pages long, asks a LOT of questions, and demands you reveal the truth about your previous successes and failures in the kitchen.You can find it here.

3. The Great British Bake Off application process doesnu2019t stop there!
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CREDIT: Channel 4

If they like what they see on your application form, a researcher will call you and give you a 45 minute interview over the phone.Then, if you pass THAT test, they'll have you whip up two baked treats, bring them to London, have an interview with a producer, and go through a screen test.Think you're done? Nope!You then have to try out a Technical Challenge set by the GBBO judges - in front of the camera. They also ask that you bring another bake along (presumably the producers are taste testing these / big fans of cake).If you're still in the running, you'll then be interviewed by the show's psychologist to make sure they can handle the pressure of filming.

4. GBBO filming is intense
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The show is filmed over a 10-week period between April and June, with contestants spending up to 16 hours a day filming.They manage to package up a whole session of baking into one hour, which means that a lot of it ends up on the cutting room floor.

5... but at least itu2019s contained to weekends
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CREDIT: Channel 4

That's right, contestants only do their GBBO stuff on weekends, which means that they can keep working their normal 9-to-5 jobs in the week.However they are picked up from their hotels at 9am each Saturday and Sunday morning, to ensure they get as much filming time in as possible.No rest for the wicked, eh?

6. GBBO contestants donu2019t do the washing up themselves
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There's no dishwasher on Bake Off, because the noise would disrupt filming. Instead, home economists spend 160 hours washing up everything by hand. We hope they all get given a free hand lotion eachu2026

7. GBBO contestants pay for ingredients themselves
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Yup, that's right; they only get their ingredients provided when they reach the finals - which makes things pretty expensive. Particularly as they use between 12-20 ingredients per bake.

8. A lot of people are involved in the production of GBBO
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There are around 50 crew members on set - and, yes, they all get to tuck into the cakes and goodies after the judges give their verdict.

9. GBBO contestants are encouraged to become friends
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Producers take all contestants out for dinner together on the first night, and they usually become good pals over time; they often stay at the same hotel, so dinners and drinks and socialising become pretty regular.Which means that, yes, they really DO mean it when they say they're happy for the overall winner - they're pretty much all besties by that point!

10. They make more cakes than youu2019d ever dreamed of
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CREDIT: Channel 4

They bake a Victoria Sponge in each oven every single morning of filming, to make sure everything is ship-shape and ready to go. We imagine everyone gets a bit sick of tucking into that particular type of cake come the end of filming!

11. The show is LITERALLY based on village fetes
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CREDIT: Channel 4

That's right; Anna Beattie, the show's creator, really believed that village fete baking competitions would suit TV. Anna, judging by the viewing figures, was 100% correct!

12. Mel and Sue recommended Mary Berry
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CREDIT: Getty Images

The duo were approached to present the show together - and they were quick to suggest that Mary Berry should be a judge back when GBBO was on BBC One. The show moved to Channel 4 in 2017 without Mary Berry.

13. Itu2019s not a disaster if someone forgets an ingredient
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In fact, producers are well and truly prepared if this happens; they have a runner on standby at a local supermarket every morning in case a contestant realises overnight that they've forgotten an ingredient.

14. Oven time is crucial
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So much so that contestants aren't allowed to put anything in - or take anything out of - the oven without flagging a producer down first. They want to make sure that they have a camera on standby to film those big baking moments.

15. The Bake Off challenges are NOT surprises
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CREDIT: Getty Images

If you make it through to the Bake Off finals, you will be told what the challenges are going to be - and you'll have to submit your recipes for approval. Eep! No pressure, eh?

16. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were off limits
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Back when the show was on BBC One, they prefered to keep things professional with contestants, and wouldn't usually speak to them outside of the Bake Off tent.

17. u2026 but Mel and Sue weren't
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CREDIT: BBC

The duo were happy to chat to contestants away from the cameras - and Sue even said that she likes to stay in touch with them via email once the show is all over. N'aww.

paul hollywood prue
©Channel 4

Back in 2017, the show made the switch with new judge Prue Leith, and new hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, much to viewers' trepidation over change to their favourite baking competition.

"I’m a tiny bit nervous at the beginning of every season of Bake Off and ask 'is this going to be the year it peaks?'," said Bake Off stalwart Paul Hollywood.

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"Bake Off World is akin to Teletubbies World - it’s this bubble that you live in. Everyone knows everybody - that’s the beauty of Bake Off. It’s a great feeling in there. I’m always first in, last out."

Paul has also revealed that GBBO will go 'back to basics' in this series.

He revealed, "I wanted to go back to basics to a point because I think leading up to last year, with some of the technical challenges, people said to me ‘don’t do that, I’ve never even heard of them!’ which is fair enough, because we want the general public to actually bake.

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