Tuesday 17 September 2019

From soggy bottom to showstopper: the Bake Off seasons ranked

Nadiya Hussain from Series Six was the Bake Off’s most popular winner
Nadiya Hussain from Series Six was the Bake Off’s most popular winner

Michael Hogan

The Great British Bake Off is back, back, back - with a baker's dozen of contestants taking part in the 10th anniversary special. We've marked television's sweetest treat by compiling our own definitive ranking of Bake Off seasons so far.

9. Series One (2010)

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The low-key debut hadn't yet perfected the Bake-Off recipe. There were 10 bakers instead of the current 12, six episodes rather than 10 and the tent toured Britain for regionally-themed challenges. The action was narrated by Stephen Noonan, rather than on-screen presenters Mel and Sue. The bakers, meanwhile, lacked standout characters. Edd Kimber became Bake Off's original winner.

8. Series Two (2011)

By the second series, Bake Off was beginning to grow - and went viral for the first time thanks to the brief, but celebrated, appearance of a certain well-endowed squirrel during the final. Rob Billington became the first marquee heart-throb and dropped his chocolate mousse cake in surprise. Five million viewers watched Essex housewife Joanne Wheatley win the all-female final, edging out the people's champion Mary-Anne Boermans.

7. Series Four (2013)

The year of the favouritism controversy, when some viewers accused judge Paul Hollywood - whose marriage had publicly broken down - of taking a shine to 20-year-old student and former model Ruby Tandoh. A mishap-heavy contest included hapless baker Howard Middleton falling victim to both "custardgate" and presenter Sue Perkins accidentally squashing his muffins. The final between Tandoh, Kimberley Wilson and Frances Quinn was ruined when news leaked in advance that Quinn had won.

6. Series Three (2012)

The one that turned the contest from a cult concern to a bona fide phenomenon. There was quiet drama throughout a gripping series. Cathryn Dresser threw her dough across the tent. James Morton's gingerbread barn collapsed - until he had the brainwave of turning it into a haunted, derelict building. Brendan Lynch greased up his arms for strudel making. After the only all-male final in Bake Off history, John Whaite ran out surprise winner.

5. Series Eight (2017)

The debut series on Channel 4 surprised many with the seamlessness of the transition. Prue Leith proved a solid replacement for Mary Berry, while new double act Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig's warm comedic chemistry meant that our pining for Mel and Sue was short-lived. The contest was a goodie too. We had early pace-setter Steven Carter-Bailey, Scousers Flo Atkins and Kat Lyon, plus loveable characters like scientist Yan Tsou and teenager Liam Charles. However, eventual winner Sophie Faldo was a little on the dull side.

4. Series Nine (2018)

Now settled into its new home of Channel 4, the 2018 contest was another corker. A loveable batch of bakers included mum Brony Williams and French fancy Manon Lagrève. Talking point moments - Terry and Prue's sickies, the first ever challenge held outside the tent, a certain exploding glass storage jar - climaxed in a tense final, with Rahul Mandal clinching the trophy.

3. Series Seven (2016)

The farewell series on the BBC following the show's controversial move to Channel 4. With her ever-changing shades of lipstick and gingerbread pub, Candice Brown was a worthy winner. Other fan favourites included kooky pensioner Val Stones and total dude Selasi Gbormittah.

2. Series Five (2014)

The debut series on BBC One didn't disappoint, partly thanks to the Binned Alaska scandal. Popular contestants included 17-year-old Martha Collison, fashion designer Chetna Makan and Luis Troyano with his boozy bakes. Builder Richard Burr scooped a record five Star Baker titles en route to the final, where he was surprisingly beaten by Nancy Birtwhistle.

1. Series Six (2015)

Just clinches it, partly by virtue of having the most memorable champion. Hijab-clad housewife Nadiya Hussain stormed to victory, while winning millions of fans with her expressive facial expressions and creative bakes.

When Nadiya gave her inspiring victory speech - "I'm never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I'm never going to say, 'I don't think I can do it'. I can. And I will" - watched by a record 15m damp-eyed viewers, even Mary Berry was moved to tears.

©The Telegraph

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