Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off might actually be OK after all

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Amy Swales
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We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but The Great British Bake Off has moved to Channel 4.

The presenters and judges are set, the next set of cakey hopefuls have been revealed and we’ve all been a little freaked out by vomiting baked goods in the trailer.

This is happening, people – get used to it.

Now, ahead of the new series (starting Tuesday 29 August, 8pm, FYI) the previews are out and the reviews are in – and, guys, everything seems fine. Really.

While Paul Hollywood stayed on as judge, Mary Berry was replaced by Prue Leith, and Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig are presenting instead of Mel and Sue.

But viewers can rest assured that Channel 4’s promised “more surreal, comedic take” on the beloved series has not messed with the format – the rounds are all in place as was, the marquee remains a hive of oven-based activity and the various baking trials and tribulations are as “compelling” as ever, according to reviews.

Buzzfeed reassures fans:

“Bake Off has not changed. The rounds are identical. The bakers are equally as compelling. The tent is exactly the same and the comedy has a similar feel. The only differences are the new people – and the ad breaks.”

And there’s glowing praise over at The Guardian:

“Channel 4 and Love Productions, who make the programme, have achieved the most difficult of all bakery-related metaphors – having their cake and eating it […]

“The first Channel 4 episode is as strong as any previously made.”

The BBC, meanwhile, isn’t too stung by its loss to admit that many of the show’s favourite elements are still in place, including being delicately iced with innuendo with lines such as “I don't know what it is but I want to dip my finger in it” and a moment with a somewhat phallic cake design.

Purists need not worry that the quality of the creations themselves has dipped, either. Just as Girls Aloud-era talent shows now sound like karaoke down your local, the standard of baking inevitably rises with each series, and reviewers agree the first episode is a great taster of things to come.

“There are cakes shaped as everything from a Russian doll to a champagne bottle and ice bucket. And they all look incredible. If Instagram was a TV show, it would be this episode.”

And Radio Times pronounces some of the showstoppers “worthy of the final, let alone week one.”

So the main difference is the commercial breaks, but you can sleep easy knowing that they won’t be stealing a huge slice of the viewing time – there’ll still be a full hour of show aired, just with a slightly gruelling 17 minutes of ads – reportedly more than any other show in the channel’s history.

Yep, it means you’re stuck on the sofa for longer, but others have pointed out it also seems to have replaced the random interludes delving into the history of a town’s signature bake.

And hey, Leith has a solution anyway. “There might be some people who might think, ‘Oh I don’t want to go to Channel 4 because of the ads’,” she says. “But you don’t have to watch it in real time do you?”

Channel 4 boss Jay Hunt however urged viewers not to skip the ads, pointing out that the channel has to pay for Steven, Tom, Julia, Liam, Kate, Sophie, Stacey, Peter, Flo, James, Yan and Chris’ flour somehow…

Of course, we would never say that Berry could be truly replaced in our hearts, but all in all Channel 4’s version is sounding like a winner.

So are you swayed?

Image: Channel 4