- Loriea Campbell-Clare becomes first contestant to be eliminated from 11th series
- Youngster Peter Sawkins is crowned this year’s first Star Baker
- New co-presenter Matt Lucas opens show with Boris Johnson impression
- High drama as Sura knocks rival Dave's cakes to floor while swatting a fly
Bake Off in a bubble began with controversies, accidents and a closely fought Cake Week.
On your marks. Get set. Here are all the major talking points and social media reaction from the opening episode…
New host Matt Lucas was an instant hit
Bake Off’s first ever all-male presenting duo looks highly promising. New recruit Matt Lucas replaced Sandi Toksvig at Noel Fielding’s side and proceeded to thoroughly steal the show.
He took centre-stage right from the start, donning a blonde wig to uncannily impersonate Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the bold opening skit.
He burst into song, cracked gags and balanced various kitchen utensils on his head. He ate everything in sight, confessed his dietary guilty pleasures and waved to autistic boy Josh at home. He poked fun at himself and the bakers, lightening the mood when things got fraught or tearful.
He was a warm, wise and hilarious presence who could just prove an inspired piece of casting. Computer says yes. Want that one. Other Little Britain catchphrases.
Dropped cake started series with a splat
'Bake Off in a bubble' got off to a dramatic start with the first dropped bake of the series. While wafting a rogue fly away from her miniature pineapple upside-down cakes, Sura’s flapping arm accidentally knocked rival Dave’s cakes out of his hands and onto the tent floor. He was gutted. She was in tears - and felt even more guilty when she was promptly crowned winner of the technical challenge.
It was like stolen custard-gate back in series four or the Binned Alaska scandal from series five all over again. Halcyon days. We love it when bakes go brilliantly. But my word, it makes for cracking TV when they go horribly wrong.
Loriea first out but Marc had lucky escape
Nobody wants to be sent home first - especially after lockdown and quarantine - but somebody had to accept the wooden spoon of doom.
This year it was Loriea Campbell-Clare, the 27-year-old diagnostic radiographer from Durham with a strangely squeaky sneeze. She deserves clapping as a key worker but her bakes didn't prove worthy of applause. Paul Hollywood said Loriea had talent but tried too hard, overbaking and over-flavouring her efforts.
Poor Loriea struggled in all three rounds, with a bone-dry Battenburg, bottom three in the technical and an over-spiced showstopper that nearly blew the judges’ heads off. Her cause wasn’t helped by her choosing to create a cake bust of Jamaican poet Louise Bennett-Coverley, aka “Miss Lou”, with whom few inside the tent were familiar - and who came out looking more like Dobby the house elf from Harry Potter.
Still, Loriea can count herself unlucky, since Cornish sculptor Marc Elliott was arguably as bad, if not worse. I’ve seen many better Davie Bowie lookalikes at primary school dress-up days.
Peter the prodigy crowned first Star Baker
This year’s youngest contestant, 20-year-old Edinburgh student Peter Sawkins, is part of the “Bake Off generation”. It was watching the show that first inspired him to get into the kitchen aged 12 . He’s watched every series since, becoming quite the superfan.
His devoted study paid off. He borrowed series three champion John Whaite’s “cake-listening” trick. He was precise, calm and collected, giving equal priority to flavour and decoration. He was consistent throughout all three rounds and was seriously rivalled only by Hermine and Sura for Star Baker. Could we be looking at the contest’s youngest ever champion in nine weeks’ time? His hero Sir Chris Hoy was a serial winner, after all.
Pandemic? What pandemic?
It’s something of a marzipan-wrapped miracle that Bake Off made it to our screens at all during this deeply weird year. Yet thanks to the Herculean efforts of the production team in creating a bio-secure bubble, and the sacrifice of cast and crew in isolating themselves for six weeks, it was back where it belonged.
This triumphant and frequently hilarious opening episode demonstrated that all the hard work was worth it. Its much-needed, eagerly awaited return came as a soothing balm after a deeply strange six months. Transported back to the fabled tent, it was easy to forget there was a global health crisis happening in the outside world.
Indeed, its sole impact here was to delay the show’s start for 15 minutes while Boris Johnson addressed the nation. Otherwise it was back to business as usual. Good bake.
Cake-heads task was ingenious and hilarious
For their debut showstopper challenge, the bakers had to create a cake bust of their hero. Whoever on the production team came up with this idea, take a bow. It’s the sort of challenge which they usually set on Celebrity Bake Off but drafting it into the “civilian version was an inspired move.
Not many of the busts looked terribly recognisable - Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Miss Lou might be consulting their lawyers if they were still alive - but it made for excellent entertainment.
Camaraderie came to the fore
The mutually supportive atmosphere inside the tent and the friendships that form between bakers has always been one of the Bake Off’s secret ingredients. This might have been a hectic, high-pressure first episode but it was still in evidence.
Laura and Lottie conferred about lumpy Battenburg batter. Helping hands were offered to bakers who were running out of time. Everyone rallied around Dave and Sura over fly swat-gate, and Sura again when her Sir David Attenborough cake bust flopped over. This was Bake Off back to its heartwarming best.
Next week’s episode takes the biscuit
Next Tuesday, it’s crunch time with Biscuit Week. Join us back at telegraph.co.uk to dissect all the pastry-snapping, tea-dunking action.
There’s also companion show An Extra Slice at 8pm Fridays on Channel 4, featuring unseen footage and an interview with each week's eliminated baker. In the meantime, to adapt the Strictly sign-off: keeeeeeeep baking!
Loriea is sent home
Twelve have become 11. Poor Loriea Campbell-Clare, the 27-year-old diagnostic radiographer from Durham, becomes the first baker to be eliminated. Fair enough, since she struggled in all three rounds, but it must have been a close call between her and Marc. He looked shocked to survive. Understandably so.
She joins the likes of Imelda McCarron, Peter Abatan, Pastor Lee Banfield, Stu Henshall and Dan Chambers in Bake Off’s “first out” hall of shame. And if you can recall any of those, you deserve a cake in the shape of a celebrity’s misshapen head.
Marc or Loriea for the chop?
They’ve struggled in all three rounds. It’s surely between this pair for the first elimination.
Marc’s David Bowie needs some serious ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, while Lorelei’s Miss Lou is so spicy, it nearly takes Paul Hollywood’s head off. Hey, at least we’d have a Paul bust to join the rest.
Judgement time for the mutant celebrity heads
It’s like there’s been a fire at Madame Tussauds and all the waxworks have melted. Laura’s Freddie Mercury has gone completely Radio Gaga but the judges declare him delicious. Meanwhile, Marc's David Bowie looks more like Jabba The Hutt, as he ruefully admits.
Noel Fielding might “fancy” Hermine’s curvy Lupita Nyong’o cake but it looks nothing like her. At least it tastes fabulous, though.
In happier news, Linda might just have redeemed herself with her tasty Bob Marley cake (Sponge Bob, Square Pants not included).
Peter has cheated lightly by cunningly going for Sir Chris Hoy in his cycling helmet and sunglasses, swerving the need to sculpt tricky features like hair or eyes. However his light sponge is delicious and the judges love it. He looks a good bet for Star Baker at this stage. And he’s only about 12. His mum will be proud.
Fetch help, David Attenborough’s had a fall
Time might be up but the drama’s not over. As she’s outside the tent, Sura realises that her Sir David Attenborough bust is falling over in slow-motion (divine justice for fly-gate, perhaps?).
“I never run!” she shouts as she dashes to his rescue. He’s now propped up on a travel cushion. Well, he is 94. He’s earned a nap.
Rogue’s gallery of celebrities
This is like the most random dinner party ever. We’ve got four musical heroes in David Bowie, Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury and, ahem, the bloke from Blink 182.
They’re joined by a VIP guestlist of David Attenborough, Louis Theroux, Charles Darwin, Chris Hoy, Marie Antoinette, Bill Bryson, Lupita Nyong’o and Jamaican poet Louise Bennett-Coverley, aka “Miss Lou”.
Quite an eclectic bunch, to say the least.
Showstopper round should be a cracker
*rubs floury hands with glee* For their make-or-break showstopper, the bakers must create a cake bust of their hero. Whoever came up with this idea, take a bow. It’s the sort of challenge which they usually do on the Celebrity Bake Off but why not draft it in here?
Doh! Or should that be Dough?
Disaster! Drama! Pesky insects! While shooing a fly away from her cakes, Sura’s flapping arms accidentally knock Dave’s cakes out of his hands and onto the tent floor.
She’s in tears. He’s gutted. This is like custard-gate (series four) or the Binned Alaska scandal (series five) all over again.
Dozen judged for the first time
First judgely tasting of the series, as Prudence and Paulette wield their cake forks. Lottie’s rhubarb and custard cake, boldly presented in a giant sweet wrapper, looks better than it tastes.
Marc, Linda and Loriea all misfire. Bad start for the trio. Rowan had to scale back his plans and presents a “deconstructed temple” but gets away with it.
Sura and Rowan make an early impression
“I’m so over cake.” “You might be on the wrong show.” Pharmacy dispenser Sura looks like an amusing character - quite spiky and sarcastic. She also seems to take her cat for a walk on a lead, which is… unusual.
Dapper music teacher Rowan is also entertainingly eccentric with his cake based on Mozart’s Magic Flute. With 13 sections of sponge, though, has he bitten off more than he can bake?
Bubblegum and cream soda, anyone?
Loriea, the diagnostic radiographer from Durham, is going for a sickly-sounding combination with bright blue marzipan. The judges don’t look convinced and frankly, neither are we.
Meanwhile, armoured guard Dave is going for an Espresso Martini cake with vodka marzipan (a boozy Bake Off first).
Forget Batman Begins, this is Battenburg begins
Down to business with the signature bake. For their first ever challenge in the tent of dreams, this year’s dozen have to hours to whip up what Prue calls “every marzipan’s favourite cake” - the four-panel light sponge cake that originated in the late 19th century and became a teatime classic.
Noticed the different backdrop?
As the camera sweeps over the bucolic treetops, that reminds us. For the first time in seven years, this series wasn’t filmed at picturesque pile Welford Park in Berkshire. The need for cast and crew to stay on-site in a "self-contained biosphere” meant the tent had to be pitched elsewhere.
Welcome to Down Hall Hotel in Essex - an Italianate hotel set in 110 acres of parkland near Bishop’s Stortford. Leave your thoroughly sanitised keys at reception. Honestly, you treat this place like a hotel.
Opening skit sees Matt Lucas spoof Boris
We had inside word from Richard McKerrow - chief executive of programme-makers Love Productions and executive producer of Bake Off - that the show kicked off with a slightly political comic moment. “That was an interesting conversation with Channel 4!” he told us. “But our approach was ‘If we can’t have one little laugh after the year everyone’s been through, life’s not worth living.’”
Well, there it was. Matt Lucas did an uncanny Boris Johnson impression in a spoof press conference, with the slogan on his podium: Stay Alert, Protect Cake. Save Loaves.
New presenter? Thank you, baked potato
Co-host Noel Fielding has a new playmate this series in the unmistakable shape of 46-year-old comedian and actor Matt Lucas - best known for sketch show Little Britain, his early work with Reeves and Mortimer, and as companion Nardole in Doctor Who.
Lucas also became a lockdown hero after releasing a reworked version of his "Baked Potato Song" from Shooting Stars, with all proceeds going towards the Feed NHS campaign.
He replaces Sandi Toksvig after her three-year stint and, alongside Noel, forms the show’s first ever all-male presenting duo. How will he fit in? Fifteen minutes until we find out…
Bake Off versus Boris
PH (Paul Hollywood) will not clash with the PM’s statement this evening. Boris Johnson’s address to the nation airs at 8pm and Bake Off will be delayed until he’s finished his speech, instead starting at the slightly later-than-scheduled time of 8.15pm. Insert satirical jokes about “Eton Mess” here.
Oh and those previous nine winners you were trying to remember? In chronological order, they were Edd Kimber, Joanne Wheatley, John Whaite, Frances Quinn, Nancy Birtwhistle, Nadiya Hussain, Candice Brown, Sophie Faldo and Rahul Mandal. How many could you name? Five is a respectable score, I reckon.
Twenty minutes now until tent-based showtime...
Eleventh (count ‘em!) series starts
This is the 11th series of Bake Off and the fourth in its new(ish) home of Channel 4. Who will follow reigning champion *checks notes* David Atherton to glass cake-stand glory?
At 8.15pm (slightly later than advertised), we’ll get our first sweet-toothed clues. Start those sweepstakes and make those wild predictions.
And if you want to limber up with a little Bake Off memory game while we wait, see how many of the nine Bake Off champions before current incumbent David you can remember. I'll give you the answer shortly...
Bake Off is back on
Pandemic? Pah. The Great British Bake Off simply found a way around the problem, made copious cups of tea, kept calm and carried on. Thanks to programme-makers Love Productions ingeniously creating a bio-secure environment at an Essex hotel for six weeks, the beloved bake-athon is able to rise again.
We’re reliably informed that viewers won’t notice the difference for this 11th series, which arrives on our screens a mere month - and 15 minutes, thanks to some pesky Prime Ministerial speech - later than usual.
No need for social distancing inside the bubble means consolatory cuddles and Hollywood handshakes can still be doled out with impunity. The main difference is that we have a new co-host with Matt Lucas replacing Sandi Toksvig.
I’m Michael, your floury-handed guide for tonight’s cakey curtain-raiser. Reset your oven timers because it’s now showtime at 8.15pm and I’ll be liveblogging from 7.30pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, social media reaction and sarky asides.
Please join me and join in too. You can email me on [email protected] telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.
It promises to be the strangest but most welcome series ever. On your marks, get set… Wait for it… Bake!