The cult baking programme known for its nail-biting tension, tears, and even a full-blown ‘sabotage’ scandal in 2014, is back on our screens
Meet the twelve contestants competing for the title of Britain’s best amateur baker this year:
Andrew is a Northern Irish aerospace engineer who is currently living in Derby. When he’s not designing jet engines, he’s pushing the boundaries of baking to create complex edible structures – his next project is a Concorde made out of baguettes.
Rochdale born Tom, 26, is a project manager for the Royal Society of Arts who lives in east London with his wife, Kate. Baking serves an important purpose in Tom’s life – if he doesn’t have time to do it, he knows his work-life balance is out of kilter. His other culinary talents include making his own cheese and salami.
Former primary school headteacher Val is a force to be reckoned with. Originally from South Yorkshire but now living in Yeovil, she has been baking for over 50 years. Her style is traditional, and she claims she can make the classics with her eyes closed.
North London-born Candace is a PE teacher who lives in Bedfordshire. She was taught to bake by her Nan, and Candace aims to be “even half the lady she was.” She loves vintage style and baking in her PJs.
Louise, 46, is a hairdresser from Cardiff who got into baking through a very honourable purpose – making cakes for a charity bake sale at work. Ten years later, she has developed into an adventurous baker who likes experimenting with flavour. This adventurous streak is reflected in her other hobbies – she has done a four day trek through the Andes.
Selasi is 30 and emigrated from Ghana to the UK with his family 15 years ago. A classic overachiever, Selasi manages to juggle working long hours in the finance industry with baking, playing basketball, motorbiking, and doing frequent charity challenges – including half marathons and sponsored treks.
Benjamina is a 23-year-old teaching assistant who recently graduated with a first in Economics. She has been baking since she was 14, and likes to keep her creations modern and on-trend. She is a perfectionist when it comes to baking, and her twin sister can always be relied on to supply Benjamina with the criticism she needs to stay on top of her game.
Garden designer Jane is 61 and lives in Beckenham. She comes from a family of bakers - her grandfather owned a bakery in Hastings and her dad was a keen baker, who a six-year-old Jane would watch in awe. She can often be found putting bread in the oven at 5am, and does all her prep in a Leopard print apron.
Rav lives in Erith, Kent, and works in student support at City University. He is probably the most experimental baker out of the bunch, and has a lot of faith in his unusual flavour combinations – even if they might seem strange to others. He is inspired by far eastern cuisine and vegan recipes.
The oldest contestant is 67 year old Lee. He started life as a builder, but took a drastic change in direction when he went to study theology in the 1980s. He is pastor of a church in Bolton. After hurting his back playing cricket in 1984, Lee took sick leave and discovered baking was an ideal way to fill the days. He hasn’t stopped since, and most enjoys using traditional flavours such as cherry, hazelnut and chocolate.
Farmer’s daughter Kate, 37, is a nurse on a respiratory ward. She has been baking since she was a child, and often revisits her parents’ farm to collect produce and fruit for her bakes. She takes baking very seriously, often working through the night to produce flawless sugar creations, but stays positive and cheery when things go pear-shaped.
Youngest contestant Michael is a Politics and Economics student at Durham. His family are Greek-Cypriot, and he has been making Greek pastries with his nan since he was a child. He loves making cakes but prefers to do this after dark, when the kitchen in his five-person student house is unoccupied.
Candice, Kate and Val appear to be early favourites among the Twitter community.
Bake Off 2016 could be the most dramatic yet, as it has sparked a debate before it’s even started.
Some members of the public expressed frustration over the “dark ages” gendered icing taking place in the promo shots – in which the featured mixing bowls which have blue icing for boys and pink for girls. Others have fought back at this notion, claiming it is an overreaction.
— Marc Godfrey (@AnimatorMarc) August 16, 2016