The Great British Bake Off returns to our small screens next week, with Channel 4 announcing its cast of 13 new contestants to much anticipation.
“A geography teacher, a vet and a fashion designer are just three of the contestants hoping to win” this year's series, the BBC reports, with many media outlets noting that this year’s lineup has a “decidedly younger contingent” as more than half of the contestants are in their 20s.
The Daily Mirror adds that the average age of contestants for this edition of the hit show is just 31 - four years younger than last year - and the oldest is 56-year-old HGV driver Phil.
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“It is thought Bake Off might be targeting younger viewers to win them over from streaming services such as Netflix,” the paper adds. “It is also believed that Channel 4 might be trying to replicate the impact of Love Island by presenting a diverse group of youngsters.”
With possible book deals and chef positions at prestigious restaurants on the horizon, this year looks set to be a hard-fought contest.
Here’s a look back at what the show’s past winners have been up to:
Rahul Mandal (2018)
Last year’s victor Rahul Mandal “fast became a national treasure” when his “overly-modest character made an endearing contrast to usual television contestants”, says the Radio Times.
Mandal has since returned to his work as an engineering researcher at University of Sheffield’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the magazine adds, adding that he recently led a campaign to encourage more women into the engineering field.
This week he published a tweet in which he offered encouragement to the new series’ constestants. “Such a wonderful bakers dozen! Can’t wait to see their creations in (the) tent,” he wrote. “A very welcome to you all. (Dear bakers, the secret is out now..and your journey starts now! Good luck).”
Sophie Faldo (2017)
The winner of the inaugural Channel 4 edition of GBBO was Sophie Faldo, a former Royal Artillery officer, ski-touring instructor and trainee stunt performer.
She now “makes personal baking appearances” and “undertakes special orders”, including a nine-tiered cake she described as a “behemoth” for HMS Belfast's anniversary, says Digital Spy.
Candice Brown (2016)
Former PE teacher Candice Brown left her job to pursue baking full-time following her victory and has since become a columnist for The Times, releasing cookbooks based on comfort food recipes.
“In July 2017, it was announced that she would be returning to reality TV and starring on ITV's reboot of ice-skating show Dancing on Ice,” says The Sun.
The Kitchn reports that Candice is also getting married in September, and “she says the bakers from her season will bake her wedding cake”.
Nadiya Hussain (2015)
By far the highest-profile winner, Hussain's victory in 2015 and subsequent media career piled extra pressure on this year's competitors.
Her first recipe book, Nadiya's Kitchen, was released to rave reviews and is reputed to have sold more than 25,000 copies.
"By far the most successful Bake Off book so far has been Nadiya's," Bea Carvalho, at Waterstones, told The Guardian. "It's still in our top ten cookbooks having been out since June, which is just incredible sales."
Hussain has since released Bake Me a Story, a collection of stories and recipes to introduce children to baking.
She has also been a familiar face on TV screens and was the star of a two-part BBC special, The Chronicles of Nadiya, in which she explored the culture and food of her parents' native Bangladesh.
There were also rumours she was being considered as a replacement for Mary Berry, who will not be joining co-judge Paul Hollywood when the Bake Off moves to Channel 4. However, Hussain revealed that she, like the veteran baker, has signed a contract to make more programmes with the BBC.
Nancy Birtwhistle (2014)
The oldest winner of the show so far, grandmother-of-eight Birtwhistle is now writing an encyclopaedia of baking and doing demonstrations around the country. She maintains her own baking website and posts frequently on Twitter. She has also campaigned for the anti-food-waste charity Love Food Hate Waste, telling the Daily Express that re-using stale bread is a good way to start limiting food waste.
Frances Quinn (2013)
Quinn's fourth-series victory was a little overshadowed by the controversy over runner-up Ruby Tandoh, who was subjected to personal attacks by people including TV chef Raymond Blanc, who alleged Hollywood was showing her favouritism. Tandoh went on to have her own column in The Guardian and a book, but then returned to her philosophy and history of art degree.
Quinn published her book, Quintessential Baking, last summer and makes personal bakery appearances around the country. She is also ambassador for the Cream Tea Society, has appeared in Vogue and competed on Celebrity Pointless.
Jon Whaite (2012)
Whaite, then 23, was finishing a law degree while he recorded the show. He got a first, but law was binned in favour of cooking - starting with a patisserie diploma at the Cordon Bleu cookery school. He has now published two books - Jon Whaite Bakes and Jon Whaite Bakes At Home and is also the resident chef on ITV's Lorraine and has set up his own online chocolate shop.
Jo Wheatley (2011)
Wheatley started her own home-cooking school after winning and published two cookbooks - A Passion for Baking and Home Baking. She also writes a column on food for The Sun and another for Sainsbury's magazine. Wheatley has her own blog and appeared on The Alan Titchmarsh Show and The One Show.
Edd Kimber (2010)
First series winner Kimber dropped out of his politics degree after his victory and went straight to Raymond Blanc's Michelin-starred Le Manoir restaurant in Oxfordshire. After a stint there as a patisserie chef, he moved to London, where he has taught classes and written three books: Patisserie Made Simple, The Boy Who Bakes and Say it with Cake. He keeps a blog and has appeared on TV shows including The Alan Titchmarsh Show.
Ruby Tandoh (runner-up 2013)
Ruby Tandoh was hotly tipped to win the 2013 series but ended up losing out to Frances Quinn. A divisive figure, the then student was accused of being a favourite of judge Paul Hollywood and was subjected to "vitriol and misogyny", she said in an article for The Guardian.
In an opinion piece that went live just before the final, Tandoh marvelled at the "nastiness" that the programme was capable of generating. "Despite the saccharin sweetness of the Bake Off, an extraordinary amount of bitterness and bile has spewed forth every week from angry commentators, both on social media and in the press," she wrote.
More insidious, she said, was the misogyny directed at the all-female finalists. "We (female) finalists are supposedly too meek, too confident, too thin, too domestic, too smiley, too taciturn … If I see one more person used the hackneyed 'dough-eyed' pun I will personally go to their house and force-feed them an entire Charlotte Royale."
After the series came to an end, Tandoh released a cookbook called Crumb and became a regular commentator for The Guardian.
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