Great British Bake Off: Meet the finalists

By Holly Rubenstein
Entertainment reporter

Image caption,
This year's finalists Tamal (L), Nadiya (C) and Ian (R)

The final of this year's Great British Bake Off is upon us, with only three bakers remaining.

The finale, which airs at 20:00 BST on BBC One, looks set to become the most watched episode in the show's history, after 10 million tuned in to see last week's chocolate challenge.

Last year's final, won by Nancy Birtwhistle, was watched by 13.3 million viewers. That made it the biggest show of the year, beaten only by England playing Uruguay in the football World Cup.

More than 13,000 people applied this year, from which 12 hopefuls made it into the tent.

Here's a closer look at the last bakers standing:


Image caption,
Nadiya has won star baker for the last three weeks

Nadiya, 30, from Leeds, has been baking for 10 years after wondering why her father only served ice cream for dessert at his restaurant.

Her family is originally from Bangladesh, where desserts aren't a big feature of mealtimes, but she was encouraged to bake by a school home economics teacher.

According to bookmakers William Hill, Nadiya is favourite to win, with odds of 2/5. "It will take a strong soufflé to knock her off the top spot," said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.

  • Series high: Despite coming fourth in the technical challenge and crying to the camera that her time was surely up, Nadiya was crowned the semi-final's star baker and received a lingering handshake from Paul Hollywood for her chocolate tart.
  • Series low: Pastry week's vol-au-vents challenge saw Nadiya run out of time, after her pastry mix was described as looking like "buttery cellulite." She tearfully presented Paul and Mary with "deconstructed" vol-au-vents with unfilled pastries and separate bowls of fillings. But her delicious flavours saved her from going home.
  • Best quote: (On her 'Religeuse L'Ancienne' centre-piece) "This is my eighth nun. I've had some nun disasters, some nun landslides, some nun explosions."
  • Nadiya on her Bake Off experience: "My dad has loved the series and he goes up and down the street each Wednesday making sure everyone is going to watch it."
  • Special skill: Nadia's repertoire of facial expressions are a joy to behold. Our particular favourite is "joyful bafflement".


Image caption,
Ian narrowly missed elimination last week, knocking out Flora

Ian, 41, from Cambridgeshire is a renowned travel photographer and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer when he is in the UK.

Ian's passion for foraging and travelling the world mean he's never afraid to bake with an unusual discovery from his garden - or much further afield. Ian is looking like second favourite to win with odds of 7/2.

  • Series high: Winning star baker at the start of the season for three consecutive weeks.
  • Series low: Ian got cocky with his cream horns, and his "cocoa didn't blend with his puff". His fillings also contained too much cherry liqueur, even for Mary.
  • Best hubris: (On his cream horns) "They're relatively easy. There's not much that can go wrong with them."
  • Ian on his Bake Off experience: "This summer I have spent an amount of time on social media and buying Heat magazine - two things I didn't think I would ever do in my life."
  • Special skill: Ian's home-made cake moulds and inventive designs (he made a wishing well out of chocolate) means he can secure a lucrative second career at ACME.
Image caption,
Ian's infamous cream horns were a low point in his signature bakes


Image caption,
Tamal has taken on the title of series heart-throb, if online reports are to be believed

Tamal, 29, grew up in Hertfordshire where his parents moved to from India in the 1960s. Now a trainee anaesthetist working in Manchester, his older sister taught him to bake - even asking him to create her wedding cake.

Tamal is the current outsider, with 5/1 odds of coming out on top.

  • Series high: Winning star baker and receiving a hand shake for his pie during Victorian week.
  • Series low: When he put the sesame seeds inside (rather than outside) his flaouna.
  • Favourite quote: "I feel like we're a herd of gazelles that's being picked off one by one by lions. Mary and Paul are the lions and they're hungry for bakers."
  • Tamal on his Bake-Off experience: "Every week I would be stressed out from combining work with tinkering with recipes at home. But as soon as I got on the train to Bake Off, I would look forward to seeing the other bakers."
  • Special skill: Tamal has become Bake Off's official heart-throb, turning Twitter slightly steamy ("Bake me bread, Tamal, you crusty temptress," reads one of the more family-friendly messages). Tamal took it all in good grace, tweeting: "Some of the lustier tweets have had me crying with laughter! Also, glad my folks aren't on Twitter." #blushingbaker

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