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14 facts you never knew about the Great British Bake Off

Including how Paul Hollywood wasn't the producers first choice!

By Alexia Dellner, 01 September 2016
14 facts you never knew about the Great British Bake Off

Everyone's favourite cooking show is back and in full swing - hooray! Now if you're anything like us, then you just can't get enough of The Great British Bake Off. From Mr. Hollywood's piercing blue eyes to Mel and Sue's hilarious antics and all of the wonderful baking creations in between, Wednesday evenings are quickly becoming our favourite time of the week. But we bet that even hardcore fans of the show don't know who producers originally wanted to judge the show or how all of that washing up gets done!

So if you can't get enough of the GBBO, read on. From how Mary Berry got involved to the psychology interview for contestants, here’s what you didn’t know about Bake Off. Star baker goes to anyone who already knew these fascinating facts! 

1. Bake Off was inspired by village fetes

The show's creator, Anna Beattie, thought that there was something about village fetes and baking competitions that would work on television. And wasn't she right about that! 

2. Anyone can apply to be on the show - except for professional bakers or chefs!

Applications are open to any UK resident over the age of 16, however they cannot have worked as a professional chef or baker at any point nor can they have acquired any professional catering qualifications in the last ten years. Also, their main source of income cannot be from commercial baking.

3. The application form is seriously long

Prospective bakers must first fill out a seven-page application form that includes questions about the applicant's lifestyle, baking experience and even personality-determining questions. The show's producers also want to hear about previous mishaps and successes in the kitchen plus ask the ever-so-important question, 'why do you bake?'

4. And so is the application process!

If the application is successful, bakers then undergo a  telephone call with a researcher where they talk through some basic recipes, followed by an audition in London with a screen test, which is then followed by a second audition which involves a Technical Challenge in front of cameras. Finally, contestants are interviewed by the show's psychologist to make sure that they won't crack under the pressure of filming. 

5. The Bake Off ovens are tested every day 

To ensure that all ovens are working perfectly, a Victoria sponge cake is baked in each and every oven, every day! Hmmm... what happens to all that cake, we wonder?  

6. Those oven shots are priceless

Whenever a contestant wants to put something into an oven, or take something out, they have to hail over a producer so that it gets filmed.

7. Paul Hollywood wasn't the first choice

Before approaching everyone's favourite silver fox, producers considered The Fabulous Baker Brothers, Dan Lepard, and Rick Stein. Can you imagine Bake Off without Paul? Us neither! 

8. And it was Mel and Sue who got Mary Berry the gig!

When the hilarious duo were approached to present the show together, they quickly suggested Mary Berry for the judging job. 

9. Filming the show is hard work

The show is filmed over 10 weeks between April and June, with contestants spending up to 16 hours a day filming – that's a lot of time sitting in front of the oven! The show is filmed on weekends (so that contestants can keep their normal work schedules) but because the show is filmed over two days, the contestants aren't allowed to change their clothes from Saturday to Sunday.  Not only that, but bakers also have to pay for all their own ingredients! Contestants only get their ingredients provided when they reach the finals. 

10. But at least the Bake Off contestants don’t have to do their own washing up

There’s no dishwasher on the show, as the noise would disrupt filming. Instead, the show employs home economists who spend up to 160 hours washing up everything by hand. Not an easy job when you think of all those measuring cups, whisks and bowls - so many bowls! 

11. Contestants normally have 12-20 ingredients per bake

But one finalist, Frances Quinn, broke the record with a staggering 124 ingredients for her cake in the final. Is that why she won? This year's contestants better take note...

12. A show runner is ready at the nearest big supermarket every morning of baking...

... Just in case any of the contestants realise they've forgotten an ingredient or decide they need something last minute. 

13. Paul and Mary keep it strictly business with contestants

Apparently the judges never socialise with the bakers outside of the tent in order to keep things professional. Sue on the other hand, often stays in touch with bakers via email once the show is over. Isn’t that sweet?

14. The show is seriously popular 

Last year, a whopping 12.3 million people tuned in to watch the Bake Off, compared with 12.1 million people watched last summer’s World Cup final on BBC1. Wow! 

Love The Great British Bake Off? Stock up on everything you need to join in the baking fun at Asda.com.

Images: BBC