Bake Off return brings ‘sweet relief’ to critics

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Bake Off first premiered on the BBC in 2010 but moved to Channel 4 in 2017

The UK’s TV critics have welcomed the return of The Great British Bake Off to Channel 4 for its 10th series.

“No surprises hidden like currants in a fruit cake… No boat-rocking channel switches,” said The Guardian’s Chitra Ramaswamy.

Scott Bryan also sounded a cautiously optimistic note in the i paper, writing: “Overall, a strong start.

“I just hope the format and its crushing need for standards doesn’t suck all the fun out.”

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This series sees 13 amateurs (a baker’s dozen) compete to win.

The regular presenting team of comedians and broadcasters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, baker Paul Hollywood and writer Prue Leith have also returned.

Tuesday night’s first episode launched with an average audience of 5.7 million viewers, according to overnight figures, slightly down on the 6.1 million who watched the 2018 launch.

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In his four-star review, James Jackson of The Times picked up on the show’s youngest-ever line-up, which, he said, “some see as a ploy to grab youthful viewers deserting traditional TV, and potentially a race to the soggy bottom.

“One of the more pleasing aspects about Bake Off has been its good-natured blend of generations,” he continued, “so it seemed a shame when last night the joshing tended towards Hollywood asking 20-year-old Jamie, ‘Does your mum know you’re here?’ and Toksvig joshing, ‘Is your voice breaking?’ Jamie took the teasing with admirable good grace.”

Contestants were asked to make a fruitcake, carried out a technical challenge involving angel cakes and made their show-stopping dream birthday cake from childhood.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption This series sees 13 contestants with the news that two will be booted off in a single week

The non-break from tradition meant the latest series is “off to a perfectly fine, if slightly underwhelming, start,” said The Independent’s Clémence Michallon.

“This first episode is all classic fare that lacks a certain zest,” she said. “What is missing is a hint of spice to lift the overall flavour, a touch of je ne sais quoi to truly pull us in. Here’s hoping things heat up throughout the rest of the series.”

Christopher Stevens of the Daily Mail opined: “Week One of Bake Off, now stretched to 90 minutes, is always an exercise in getting to know the contenders, and this time the field is more crowded than ever, with 13 challengers.”

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The first episode proved to be a hot topic for people on social media.

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