Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood tease a 'tricky' but 'joyful' new season of The Great British Baking Show
A dozen new bakers are headed to The Great British Baking Show tent, which means Netflix is ready to serve up plenty of sweet treats and a good dollop of tension as it unveils the hit show's ninth collection.
But as excited as we are to see what the bakers whip up this season, when judge Prue Leith first got the call to dust off her taste buds, she wasn't immediately thrilled.
"I didn't want to go back into the tent because I was in the middle of building a new house and a new garden and I was so enjoying being home," Leith jokes to EW. "But once we got there and we saw the crew — it's been the same year after year, we're really fond of each other, and last year we were in lockdown [together], so we got to know everybody very well — it was actually a joy to be back. Joyful."
She says a "very good" batch of contestants made the experience all the better (and yummier), and co-judge Paul Hollywood agrees the bakers really showed up to work, even with an accelerated schedule due to COVID restrictions.
"Ultimately, doing [The Great British] Bake Off [the show's British name] in lockdown is very tricky because normally we'd have a five-day break between each show, but we only had two days where the bakers actually tested [their bakes] in their own practice tents," says Hollywood. "So they went away and practiced and then came back to the tent. We did three months' worth of filming in about six weeks. It was very concentrated and full-on for the bakers, but it was good fun."
Despite the intensified season, Hollywood says he "never, ever" feels bad for setting a super-difficult Technical Challenge for the contestants. "The Technical is the best challenge where we get to know a lot about the bakers because they don't know what they're going to do," he says. "Sometimes they've never heard of the bakes, but we are looking at the best amateur bakers that we've got to choose from, so we expect very good standards. We will push them on the Technical."
He adds that though we'll witness some very difficult challenges this season, it's actually the straightforward ones that seem to trip up the bakers. "They always create more problems because there's nowhere to hide. If we set a very simple challenge, we expect absolute perfection."
The new season of The Great British Baking Show pops out of the Netflix oven on Friday.