Entertainment & Arts

Is new Bake Off line-up a winning recipe?

Great British Bake Off logo Image copyright Love Productions

What kind of cake would you get if you mixed Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding and Prue Leith with Paul Hollywood?

We'll have to wait until the autumn for the answer, when The Great British Bake Off begins afresh on Channel 4.

There has been some heated reaction to its new line-up, which is perhaps only to be expected for a show that revolves around cooking.

What can't be denied is the show will have some interesting new ingredients when it returns later this year.

Here's everything you need to know about the show's new stars - and what people have been saying about them.

NOEL FIELDING

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Comedian and actor Fielding is best-known for surreal BBC sitcom The Mighty Boosh, which ran for three series between 2004 and 2007.

The 43-year-old played a number of outlandish characters in the cult comedy hit, among them nominal hero Vince Noir, the malevolent Hitcher and merman Old Gregg.

He made frequent appearances as a panellist on music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks, eventually becoming a team captain in 2009.

He is also a familiar face on Channel 4 thanks to his appearances in Nathan Barley, The IT Crowd and Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.

According to the Daily Mail, the "eccentric" performer is "known for his 1970s-style glam rock outfits" and "trippy" brand of comedy.

The paper also highlights his history of "extravagant" drug-taking while conceding he has "calmed down" in recent years.

The Guardian describes Fielding as "the wild card in the new Bake Off pack", while the Telegraph said Channel 4 had "served up a surprise" by recruiting him.

The Times, meanwhile, points out that the sometime artist "held his first exhibition as a patissiere with Soho" - suggesting perhaps a prior affinity with cakes.

Fielding's new role has been welcomed by former Bake Off contestant Selasi Gbormittah, who said the comedian was "very funny".

"It's what new bakers need in the tent," he told Good Morning Britain on Friday. "I'm very excited about it."

Radio 1 breakfast host Nick Grimshaw also expressed his approval, while admitting Fielding was "a really random choice".

"We love Noel Fielding because he is very funny and very weird," the DJ told his listeners earlier.

PRUE LEITH

Image copyright PA

Born in South Africa in 1940, Prudence "Prue" Leith learned to cook at Le Cordon Bleu school in London.

She opened her first restaurant, Leith's, in 1969 and founded her own cookery school in 1974.

The columnist and novelist has written many cookbooks, most famously Leith's Cookery Bible.

The 77-year-old was a judge on the BBC's Great British Menu for 11 years before stepping down last year.

Leith, who became an OBE in 1989 and a CBE in 2010, is a former chair of the Children's Food Trust.

Her new role as Bake Off judge was widely trailed after it emerged she was interviewed by Channel 4 in January.

According to The Guardian's Mark Lawson, Leith is "about as near to a like-for-like Mary Berry replacement as it would be possible to find".

He does suggest, though, that "her slightly spikier style" will make her pairing with Paul Hollywood more "spice-and-spice" than "salt-and-sugar".

SANDI TOKSVIG

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Comedian Toksvig was a member of Cambridge University's famous Footlights theatre group and wrote the society's first all-female show.

She started out in children's television before moving on to panel shows like Call My Bluff, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You.

Her hosting duties include nine years as chair Radio 4's The News Quiz and her current role as host of the BBC's QI.

The openly gay 58-year-old was made an OBE in 2014 and co-founded the Women's Equality Party the following year.

The Telegraph's Michael Hogan called Toksvig and Fielding "a random pairing which could rise like a well-whipped souffle or sink like poorly proved dough".

Slate, meanwhile, said Toksvig would "maintain the tradition of having at least one very funny lesbian on the set at all times" - a reference to Sue Perkins, the show's previous co-host.


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