Paul Hollywood — Great British Bake Off judge, Instagram artist, and custodian of the most resistant judgement handshake in the world — has told GBBO fans what they were desperate to hear: the new series is filming, and very much on its way.
Attempting to recover from England’s defeat to Italy in the European Championships, Hollywood posted a mournful line to Instagram: “After all the disappointment, I need the tent to cheer me up, “hello old friend.” The new series, which is the twelfth and will stay on Channel 4, will again be filmed in a COVID-19 bubble — conditions which the world thought had ended the “absolute worst” food show judging convention, but in fact just allowed it to flourish once again.
Last year’s Great British Bake Off was a strange beast. The cooped up tension of isolation wrapped itself around the contestants in Chocolate Week; the opening episode, Cake Week, created one of the great memes of 2020, but also set an impossibly high bar for the rest of the series; Patisserie Week, the de facto semi-final, asked viewers to invest in every episode, watch the bakers’ journey, see faves develop their skills and have their highs and lows, but then also accept the fact that those previous episodes are absolutely meaningless in terms of where those journeys end. Japanese Week was ... an Orientalist mess.
Now that viewers, judges, and contestants alike are approaching a series filmed in novel conditions having been through those conditions before, things may well settle down. With GBBO expected to premiere this autumn, for now all viewers have is Paul Hollywood’s cheer. They’ll take what they can.