If you haven't watched an episode of the UK's Great British Bake Off, then I just don't understand what you're doing with your free time. The reality baking competition is hugely popular in the UK and is gaining traction in the US thanks to airing on PBS under the name Great British Baking Show. Led by presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins and under the scrutiny of judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, British bakers create breathtaking masterpieces each week in a kitchen set up in a tent. Yes, they bake in a tent outdoors. Granted, it's a pretty fancy tent, but I've seen my fair share of bakers have issues with their bakes simply because of the weather.
Lucky for all of us, the show is available on Netflix here in the US, so you can get a taste for it yourself. If you're even slightly intrigued, keep reading for 12 fun facts about the show that I'm pretty sure will convince you to give it a try.
- Staff bake a Victoria sponge cake in every oven every day before filming. They do this to ensure the ovens are in perfect working condition.
- Professional chefs need not apply for the show. Entry is restricted to only amateur bakers.
- All the dish washing is done by hand, but not by the contestants. Because a dishwasher would be too loud to run while filming, the show employs extra staff just to wash dishes.
- Bakers buy all their own ingredients, which can get pretty pricey for them.
- Bakers are told to flag down a cameraman any time they want to put something into or take something out of the oven so it can be filmed. Those moments are crucial!
- Paul wasn't the showrunners' first choice to be a judge on the show, and it was Mel and Sue who recommended Mary as the other judge.
- It takes 10 weeks to film the show, but it's typically only filmed two days a week. While often it's shot on weekends, allowing the bakers to keep up their typical lives during the week, that's not always the case. Filming also takes up to 16 hours a day!
- Bakers find out what they need to bake for the show beforehand. They have time to prep and practice and get their recipes approved by the show.
- The application process is extensive. It starts with a multiple-page application form, followed by a phone interview, then followed by bringing a couple bakes to London and having an in-person interview. If you've made it this far, you then have to do a technical bake on camera and bring along a bake from home. If you make it through all that, you have to see a psychologist to be sure you can handle the stress of filming.
- There's little animosity between bakers. The show actually encourages them to be friends.
- Producers are on standby in case a baker gets stuck or needs a little help. The show really wants its bakers to succeed!
- Someone is on standby at a nearby store in case a baker forgets an ingredient. Unlike many American cooking shows, where if you don't have all your ingredients you just have to deal with it, GBBO makes sure its bakers have everything they need to achieve their bakes.