The Great Christmas Bake Off 2021: Bake Off is back, a little sooner than we might have expected, following the conclusion of the 2021 series. We’ll get not one but two festive specials this year, with the first coming on Christmas Day itself. The stars of It’s A Sin will take to the tent to show off their baking skills to judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood.
The award-winning five-part drama broke streaming records for All 4 when it was released in January 2021, and followed a group of gay men living through the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
The Great Christmas Bake Off 2021
Bake Off in the time of a global pandemic is very different behind the scenes as the 12 contestants, judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith and presenters Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas leave behind their loved ones to enter their own bubble.
But this sacrifice means that on-screen, fans will be relieved to learn, all is as familiar and comfortable as a well-loved bobble hat. The opening episode is a corker, with a bunch of good-natured, self-deprecating and often brilliant amateurs and the funniest round I can ever recall. It’s the showstopper and it’s hilarious. A fondant Freddie Mercury, anyone?
First up in Cake Week is a Battenberg signature challenge. As new boy and Sandi Toksvig replacement Lucas settles in (very well, actually) there is raw dough, a classic technical challenge, and a catastrophe caused by carelessness at the gingham altar. And yes, of course there are tears.
The elder statesman of Bake Off, Paul is the only member of the team who has been with the show since its very beginning, originally judging alongside Mary Berry until the move to Channel 4 in 2017. Paul also hosts the US version of the programme, The American Baking Competition and has served as head baker at a number of hotels in the UK and abroad, after first beginning his career at his father’s bakery when he was still in his teens.
Although it was Bake Off that really made Paul a household name, he had made some other TV appearances beforehand on shows including The Heaven and Earth Show and This Morning, while since making his name as a judge he has appeared on a number of programmes including his own show Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds.
Paul is known for his often harsh comments and for setting frequently challenging tasks in the signature challenge, while his coveted “Hollywood handshakes” reserved for the very best bakes have become a popular feature of the show.