Despite all the disruption to TV schedules due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, Great British Bake Off has managed to film a 2020 series.
Arriving a little later than usual, GBBO kicks off on Channel 4 on Tuesday 22 September after a huge behind-the-scenes operation ensured it was safe to shoot.
While viewers supposedly won’t be able to tell the show was filmed in unusual circumstances, there will be one obvious change as Matt Lucas has replaced Sandi Toksvig as a presenter.
As summer unfolds into autumn GBBO is reliably comforting fare for this time of year and a welcome distraction but that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to always be plain sailing.
Read more: Matt Lucas says GBBO schedule was gruelling for bakers
Contestants interfering in each other’s bakes and blunders from the judges have raised the stakes – and undoubtedly blood pressure – for both bakers and viewers alike in past years.
While the programme is a tried and tested formula, human unpredictability means drama could still be afoot even in the most gentle of shows.
So while viewers wait to see if there will be any cake catastrophes or dough disasters this year, let’s revisit the controversies of years gone by.
Paul Hollywood’s favouritism row
The fourth series of the show in 2013 saw fans levy accusations of favouritism against Paul Hollywood as it was suggested he gave preferential treatment to then 21-year-old contestant Ruby Tandoh due to her looks.
He denied the claims with little tact, implying it couldn’t be true because he found another contestant “far prettier”.
Tandoh, who was runner-up to winner Frances Quinn, came out as gay in 2015 and criticised the “misogynists” who accused her of flirting with Hollywood at the time.
“For those who thought I fancied Paul Hollywood or that I’d ever bang him to get ahead – JOKE’S ON YOU, YOU MASSIVE S****ING MISOGYNISTS,” she wrote.
Deborah Manger was a dentist-turned-baker-turned-accidental-thief when she unwittingly took poor Howard Middleton’s custard in series four.
She owned up to the mistake to Sue Perkins after pinching from her competitor, who took the news rather graciously, as they made a trifle for their first challenge of Dessert Week.
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Howard used Deborah’s custard for his creation as it was too late to retrieve the one he’d made but the judges were made aware of the mistake and so they were judged on the custard of their own making.
Howard managed to make it through to another week while Deborah left the tent for good.
The baked Alaska fiasco
Diana Beard stirred up a storm on series five when it appeared she had taken Iain Watters’ Baked Alaska ice cream out of the freezer.
A frustrated Iain threw his creation into the bin and even presented said disposal unit to the judges when it was time to bring his bake up to the front of the tent.
It provoked national outrage though as Diana’s apparent devious actions hit the headlines.
However, all might not have been as it seemed as in the wake of the backlash Sue Perkins stated the ice cream had barely been out of the freezer.
“Iain’s Alaska was out of the freezer for 40 secs. That’s it. No sabotage. 40 secs of normal temp would NOT be enough to reduce it to liquid,” she wrote.
Iain’s Alaska was out of the freezer for 40 secs. That’s it. No sabotage. 40 secs of normal temp would NOT be enough to reduce it to liquid
— Sue Perkins (@sueperkins) August 27, 2014
Diana quit the show – which had been filmed in the spring – before the next episode due to reasons unrelated to the dessert drama with Iain later expressing dismay at the way she had been treated online.
Although he did also tell The Guardian he didn’t believe the programme-maker’s claims the dessert was out of the freezer for only 40 seconds.
Channel 4 change-up
GBBO found great success on BBC Two and so was promoted to BBC One after four series, but in 2016 the programme’s makers Love Productions jumped ship to Channel 4 after a disagreement over price.
Mary Berry, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc stayed loyal to the BBC while Hollywood followed the programme to Channel 4.
The split in the original GBBO team appeared to be a source of friction for the foursome as Paul claimed Mary, Sue and Mel had “abandoned” the programme while he became “the most hated man in the country”.
Read more: Candice Brown’s husband says Paul Hollywood kiss put strain on marriage
Earlier this year, Sue reflected on the divide, describing the fallout with the baker as “painful” although didn’t delve into the nitty-gritty of what went on.
Speaking on Jessie Ware’s Table Manners podcast, she said: “When we were there, Paul was really good fun – and stuff happened that made us incredibly sad and incredibly hurt.
“But he was always like family for years and years and years, and it’s painful when those things end, especially in the way that they did end.”
Noel Fielding’s fridge antics
Noel Fielding was brought onto the programme on its move to Channel 4 but he got off to a bit of a rocky start on his debut season.
While playing around in the big white tent, his co-star Sandi Toksvig opened a fridge to reveal the comedian crouched inside in a move that prompted 55 complaints to Ofcom.
Some feared the joke could prove harmful if children attempted to copy his actions, however, the broadcasting watchdog decided the programme did not need to be investigated.
Prue Leith’s premature announcement
The first series of GBBO to air on Channel 4 had its finale overshadowed somewhat by a Twitter blunder made by new judge Prue Leith.
Ahead of the airing of the final episode which saw Sophie Faldo win the coveted cake stand, Leith congratulated her in a tweet.
Read more: Prue Leith says UK is the ‘most unbelievably class-ridden country’
After realising her error the cook apologised and explained she was in a different timezone as she holidayed in Bhutan.
She later described her mishap as “the most idiotic thing in the world” – but it can’t have been too bad in Channel 4’s eyes as they kept her on for more.