The Daily Telegraph

Bake Off ’s main ingredient is an older line-up

- By Anita Singh

WHEN The Great British Bake Off unveiled a line-up of 20-somethings two years ago, it wasn’t much of a show-stopper.

Critics said the millennial­s held limited appeal and suggested that the Channel 4 show be renamed “No Country For Old Bakers”.

The broadcaste­r appears to have taken the feedback on board. This year’s contestant­s represent one of the broadest age ranges in recent years, from a 19-year-old university student to a 70-yearold retired midwife.

Their profession­s include a former Met Police detective, a head of finance and a software developer.

The average age of the contestant­s this year is 40 – up from 31 in 2019.

There is one thing they have in common. While many people experience­d the downsides of lockdown, the Bake Off contestant­s saw it as an opportunit­y to improve their baking skills.

Chigs, a 40-year-old sales manager from Leicesters­hire, claims he only took up baking as a hobby when the pandemic forced him to stay at home.

“I only really started to bake during the first lockdown and so it has helped me enormously and gave me something to focus on,” he said.

Freya, the youngest contestant at 19, is studying for a psychology degree and lives at home with her parents in North Yorkshire.

“I’ve always loved baking, but I think lockdown was the first time I realised how passionate I was about it. For me, like many people, baking was a bit of positivity when things seemed rather glum.”

The contestant­s said making it to the tent was an emotional experience.

“I cried as it was so surreal to be somewhere I have watched on telly for years and it was suddenly real that I was going to be baking there,” said Lizzie, 28, a car production operative from Liverpool.

The new series begins on Sept 21. The show is a major weapon in Channel 4’s arsenal as it attempts to promote its credential­s as a public service broadcaste­r and stave off privatisat­ion.

Last year’s series set a ratings record for Channel 4, with a peak audience of 10.4 million tuning in to the final as viewers flocked to TV in lockdown.

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