Arts and Life

The Great British Bake Off’s most memorable moments

The electric mixers are warming up, the speed freezers are cooling down and the tent poles are firmly in place, which can only mean one thing: the return of The Great British Bake Off.

Series 13 of the nation’s favourite baking show will begin on Channel 4 next Tuesday, as a dozen contestants enter the infamous canvas arena to battle it out with a range of technical and signature challenges that are sure to deliver memorable moments.

Judge Paul Hollywood will “hand out sweaty, increasingly less valuable handshakes” and Prue Leith “will continue to rate cakes according to their calorie status in a sort of lawful good doctrine”, said Eater. Comedian Matt Lucas will join Noel Fielding to present the series and, true to tradition, “Cake Week will kick things off”. 

If you’re in knead of a GBBO fix before then, here are some of the best bits from the previous 12 series.



So-called #Bingate is “the standout moment in GBBO history”, said The Mirror. Contestant Ian Watters was at the heart of the show’s “biggest scandal”, according to The Guardian, after fellow baker Diana Beard appeared to remove Watters’s ice cream from the freezer before it had set.  

Once applied to his Baked Alaska, the dessert turned into a “runny mess”, said The Mirror, and Watters decided to “chuck the whole thing” in the bin. Watters was sent out of the competition as a result, having had no showstopper to present to the judges. But Beard received “a torrent of abuse” online, noted the paper, with Paul Hollywood and former present Sue Perkins stepping in to defend the incident. 

“The whole thing ended up on Newsnight for crying out loud.”


Salty wounds

John Whaite would go on to win the third series of GBBO in 2012, but his time on the show didn’t get off to a great start when he lined a baking tin for rum babas with salt instead of sugar in the first episode.

Whaite quickly redeemed himself, but viewers were “shocked” when a further episode “turned into a ‘bloodbath’ worthy of Casualty”, said the Daily Mail. When Whaite sliced his finger on an electric cake mixer, he was led from the tent after blood began pouring down his arm, but was “spared elimination”.


Simply smashing

In the 2018 GBBO finale, Rahul Mandal “overcame a massive disaster” to win the series, said HuffPost. A glass storage jar “exploded” during the final showstopper challenge, after the high temperature in the baking tent caused the container to “shatter”. 

Glass covered his workbench and ingredients as members of the production team rushed to clear up after “the freak accident”. He was given an extra 15 minutes by the judges to finish the challenge as a result, causing, rather inevitably, some viewers to take to social media and accuse him of cheating.


‘Bon appétit’

Comedian James Acaster hit “rock bottom” while appearing on The Great Celebrity Bake Off in 2019, according to Radio Times. The episode delivered “an hour of existential crises and accidentally abstract artistry from a man who has never baked before in his life”. 

His cherry bakewell flapjack mixture turned into “the consistency of soup”, and he spent most of the challenge “with his head in his hands”. When the judges got to his bench to taste his bakes, he simply said: “started making it, had a breakdown, bon appétit”.


‘The male judge’

Paul Hollywood “was brought down a few pegs” in season five when eventual winner Nancy Birtwhistle gave him some “sass”, referring to him as “the male judge”, said The Independent.

Birtwhistle “completely lost it” during the technical challenge, said Metro, asking co-presenter Sue Perkins: “What did the male judge say again?” Despite the sass, Birtwhistle went on to take the top spot that week – and a few weeks later, was declared the winner. Evidently she left a greater impression on Hollywood than he had on her, with the judge describing her as “confident, creative and unafraid as a baker”. 



“It was no trifling matter” when Deborah Manger seemingly stole Howard Middleton’s custard in series four, and used it in her own pudding, said OK! magazine. Deborah was “stunned by her error” as she “confessed” the crime to Perkins, added The Sun.

“Howard dealt with the error well”, said OK!, but “some viewers felt justice was served when she was later voted off”. In what was a litany of errors, the incident came “just a week” after Perkins “leaned her elbow” into his muffins, said The Telegraph. He told the newspaper, trouble had been “following me around” on the show. 


Winning words

Nadiya Hussain “stole the nation’s hearts”, said the Daily Mail, when she won GBBO in 2015 and described the achievement as one of the best moments of her life. In an emotional speech, Hussain said: “I’m never gonna say ‘maybe’. I’m never gonna say, ‘I don’t think I can’. I can and I will’. 

The newspaper added that “the baker has clearly been living by those words ever since”, enjoying an “extremely successful career” that’s included meeting the Queen, launching her own BBC Two series and authoring a number of cookbooks.


Ruby’s cake collapses

Viewers tuning into GBBO’s first vegan week were “horrified” when “the most disastrous thing that could happen in the competition” happened to Ruby Bhogal, said Hello! Magazine. Her two-tiered chocolate, lemon and coconut cake collapsed, “seemingly in slow motion”, added The Sun.

Despite the mishap, Hollywood and fellow judge Leith enjoyed the cake, and Bhogal was spared from elimination. Instead, “self-confessed meat-eater” Jon Jenkins left the tent as he confessed his “preference for a ‘kebab week’”, said the Evening Standard.


Every Hollywood Handshake

Getting a handshake from Paul Hollywood “is the glittering prize contestants covet”, said The Sun, coming “second only to winning the show”. So iconic is the accolade, the newspaper reported that Channel 4 has now trademarked the term, ‘Hollywood Handshake’, “with a view to slapping it on a long line of merchandise”.


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