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About the show

The ultimate baking contest

An entertaining and exciting search to find and crown Britain's best amateur baker.

Renowned food writer Mary Berry and professional baker Paul Hollywood set 12 passionate bakers a series of challenges in different disciplines, designed to test every aspect of their skills and showcase the exacting science behind the art of baking.

Taking on some of the most terrifying tasks of the kitchen, the contestants go all out to impress the judges as they battle for a place in the final and the chance to become The Great British Bake Off winner.

Who will sink like a second-rate soufflé? And who will deliver enough mouth-watering bites to be crowned the next Bake Off champion?

They'll be tears, they'll be tension, and there may even be a soggy bottom or two.

On your marks… get set… bake!

Judges and hosts

GBBO - S4

Mary Berry

With 60 years cooking experience, Mary Berry is considered to be the doyenne of baking.

Mary learned the art of baking from her mother before training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris at the age of just 17.

She quickly established herself as a leading cookery writer and broadcaster, and has published over 70 cookbooks throughout her career.

Her contribution to the culinary arts was recognised by the Queen in 2012 when she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours.

Mary’s personal favourite cake to make is a ginger treacle tray bake. However, most people tell her that they enjoy baking her lemon drizzle cake and her tarte au citron.

In addition to her baking expertise, Mary has also garnered a reputation for providing practical recipes containing lots of fresh ingredients for the family.

GBBO - S4

Paul Hollywood

Paul Hollywood is one of the UK’s leading artisan bakers.

The son of a baker, Paul originally trained as a sculptor until his father persuaded him to change careers. By combining his love of sculpting and baking, Paul established himself as an innovator.

Paul is a master baker and has worked in some of the most exclusive hotels in the world, including the Dorchester in London.

He cemented his reputation as the leading authority on bread making by publishing the bestselling book 100 Great Breads, which has been translated into seven languages.

In 2008 he created the most expensive bread in Britain – an almond and Roquefort sourdough that was sold for £15 a loaf at Harrods. Paul describes it as the "Rolls Royce of loaves"!

In his first solo series, Bread, Paul revealed the secrets to making breads from all over the world, showing how a simple loaf can be transformed into delicious dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Paul has also appeared as a judge on The American Baking Competition on the CBS network.

GBBO - S4

Mel Giedroyc

Writer and performer Mel Giedroyc started her career as half of the hugely successful double act, Mel and Sue.

Mel and Sue were shortlisted for the Best Newcomers Award at the Edinburgh Festival and went on to write material for French and Saunders before hosting their own show.

When the duo separated to work on individual projects, Mel worked on a range of programmes, including co-presenting a daytime chat show and guest appearing in BBC sitcom, The Vicar of Dibley.

Mel has appeared in three series of the twice BAFTA-nominated cult sketch show, Sorry I've Got No Head, as well as the West End musical Eurobeat, and the popular teen drama, Sadie J.

Mel also presents The 4 o’clock Show daily on Radio 4 Extra and is branching out into writing for theatre.

GBBO - S4

Sue Perkins

Writer, presenter and broadcaster, the hugely talented Sue Perkins has been a firm favourite on British television for nearly 15 years.

Together with her presenting partner, Mel Giedroyc, they entertained the nation with their unique brand of wit on the popular comedy show, Light Lunch.

Sue has worked on a wide range of solo projects, including documentaries on art, popular fiction and history.

In 2008 she appeared on the BBC show Maestro. She won and went on to conduct at The Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park. Her passion for conducting has continued and in 2011 she conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011.

Sue has also collaborated with the food critic, Giles Coren, on The Supersizers series, experiencing food from a variety of historical periods, including sow's udder pate, bovine bread and butter pudding, duck tongues and several thousand bottles of wine.

She appears regularly on Radio 4 shows Just a Minute and The News Quiz, and in 2013 she released her self-penned sitcom, Heading Out, which she not only wrote but composed the music for and took the lead role.

Bakers

GBBO - S5

Chetna

Chetna was born in India and moved to Mumbai for university, where she became a fashion designer and started her own clothes label.

She met her husband at college, where he was training to become a doctor, and in the couple moved to the UK in 2003. Although Chetna had travelled a lot before, the transition from the Indian heat to the cold British weather, and the move from one of the most densely populated cities in the world to Kent, was still a massive shock.

Chetna used baking as a way of embracing life in the UK and has thrown herself into learning new skills, combining her mum’s traditional recipes and flavours with British bakes when she can.

She is a creative yet meticulous baker and channels huge creativity into her baking, as well as painting beautiful murals on her children’s bedroom walls.

GBBO - S5

Claire

Claire lives in Cheshire, where she works as a speech and language therapist, and has been baking since she was 11 years old. ]]

Both her mother and grandmother were wedding cake decorators and her father a chef, so all have taught her crucial techniques that should come in handy for the Bake Off.

Claire used to be a chaotic baker, but her husband, Carl, is a chemist and his precision has greatly influenced her in the kitchen.

Claire is known for her unorthodox approach to slimming clubs, often bringing along cakes for her fellow slimmers.

Claire loves making cakes and pastries, particularly Chelsea buns, and her sense of fun and mischief shine through in her baking. She likes to decorate extravagantly with real attention to detail, always researching and playing around with different ingredients.

GBBO - S5

Diana

Diana is The Great British Bake Off’s oldest baker so far. The daughter of a dairy farmer, she grew up on a farm in Shropshire on the Welsh borders. She joined the Women's Institute at the age of just 13 and became a Women's Institute judge at only 20 years old.

Diana met her husband Malcolm at a Young Farmers' social event when she was just 16, and they have been together ever since.

She is armed with a quick wit and sense of seeing the brighter side of life, and tending to her garden is her main hobby.

Diana learnt to bake with her mother and grandmother from when she was just knee high. She is a traditional baker with a strong base of knowledge to call on, and is confident making pies, pastries and cakes, but feels that baking bread may be her weakest area.

Making her daughter’s wedding cake was her proudest baking moment, but she describes her signature bakes as her chocolate cake, flaky pastry, Eccles cakes and vanilla slices.

GBBO - S5

Enwezor

Born and bred in north London near Harrow, Enwezor is half Nigerian and half Japanese. He now lives with his wife and four children in Portsmouth, where he works at the local university as a business consultant.

When Enwezor sets his mind to something he will commit himself entirely. He once decided to do the Great South Run barefoot, spending eight months walking around Portsmouth without shoes to get his feet ready for the race.

Enwezor grew up in a family that liked to cook. He has taught himself to bake in the last three years and it has rapidly become one of his greatest passions. He once did a night shift with a professional baker, making over 900 loaves of bread, just for the work experience.

Although he started off with bread, pastry is now his favourite thing to work with.

Enwezor regards baking as an inclusive and fun activity that he likes to do with his children. He'll give them a bowl of flour and let them mix it on the floor whilst he bakes.

He thinks baking brings together the community and he runs a Facebook group for amateur bakers in Portsmouth, sharing ideas and tips he’s discovered along the way.

GBBO - S5

Iain

Growing up just outside of Belfast, Iain now lives in London and is a construction engineer, bringing an array of bakes in for his colleagues on the construction sites.

His parents are passionate about organic foods and this outlook has directly affected his style of baking.

Iain’s mum taught him everything he knows about baking cakes and biscuits and he keeps all of her traditional recipes, sending her pictures of his bakes back home. Iain's dad is also a brilliant baker and bestowed his knowledge of baking bread upon his son, who is so dedicated to baking that he even made his older brother’s wedding cake!

As well as an older brother, Iain also has a twin.

He lives with his girlfriend, Catriona, and for nine months the pair lived together in a caravan in the Australian outback, where they baked together and argued daily over who was the better baker.

Iain especially enjoys using vegetables in his bakes and dreams of opening a cafe in east London.

GBBO - S5

Jordan

Jordan lives in Nottingham where he works as an IT manager. He is the self-confessed ‘nerdy baker’ of the tent.

Jordan is highly intelligent and constantly absorbs trivia and new skills, from spinning his own wool and perfecting his embroidery, to baking and hairdressing!

Jordan plays Dungeons & Dragons with his friends and loves to read comic books. He keeps fit by cycling his bike five miles to and from work every day. When offered both an easy and a complex way to do something, he will always go for the most difficult.

Jordan is a baking revolutionary and is passionate about cross-breeding bakes such as his 'pretzel-croissant'. He has lost days of his life perfecting his own version of the 'cronut.'

He has been baking seriously for the last three years but has dabbled for longer than that. He considers baking to be similar to coding, where one wrong instruction can cause the whole thing to go awry.

He calls his pet sourdough starter ‘Yorick the Yeast’, who requires daily feeding to keep him happy and healthy.

GBBO - S5

Kate

Originally from Cambridgeshire, Kate now lives in Brighton with her five-year-old daughter Eloise. Kate trained as an actress and performed on stage for a couple of years before working in advertising and design agencies.

Kate moved to Brighton to bring her daughter up and started her own upholstery company which she runs from home, breathing new life into furniture with various textures and colours.

Kate loves to bake for her family – last year she made 15 Christmas cakes!

Sparky and full of beans, Kate is a creative baker and treats every bake as an experiment. She very rarely uses recipes or weighs ingredients. She once baked a life-sized Goldfinger Bond girl for her sister’s 40th birthday and a full-sized 3D sculpture of her friend’s head – all from cake.

She bakes with her daughter, but admits that she is a terrible delegator in the kitchen. Following in her mother's culinary footsteps, Eloise likes to concoct her own recipes using various ingredients such as marmite and flour, which are not often edible!

GBBO - S5

Luis

Luis was born and raised in Stockport, but both his parents are Spanish, which had a huge influence on his upbringing. Luis was fluent in Spanish from an early age.

He met his wife Louise at college at the tender age of 17. The pair were engaged at 21, but didn't tie the knot until 14 years later in Las Vegas.

He trained as a graphic designer and enjoys playing the ukulele, making model planes and keeping bees. His wife gave him his first beehive as a birthday present and thereafter his passion escalated. Luis currently keeps eight hives: four at home, three at his allotment, and one at his caravan site.

Smiley and affable but extremely focused, Luis accomplishes anything he sets his mind to. Luis is an extremely inventive baker and produces thoroughly researched and unique bakes, such as his tequila slammer cheesecake or cherry brandy pipette gateaux.

He uses honey from his bees and fresh ingredients from his allotment in his baking. He also preserves his own jam and his Bakewell tarts are his favourite bake to make... and eat.

GBBO - S5

Martha

Martha is the Great British Bake Off’s youngest ever baker. At just 17 years old, she combines baking with her exams and coursework, taking revision breaks to make a tower of profiteroles or a batch of macaroons.

Martha is studying food technology, maths and chemistry and wants to make a career out of food when she is older, saying: “I may be in school, but my head is always in the kitchen.”

She lives with her mum, dad and younger sister and their white labradoodle Alfie, who steals Martha’s bakes whenever possible. Martha’s earliest baking memory is baking rock cakes and pizzas with her mum.

Working on the cheese counter at a supermarket gives Martha inspiration to try different cheeses and flavours in her bakes.

Martha is fascinated by the science of baking, such as why cakes rise, why choux pastry puffs up and what goes on inside bread to give it structure.

She is determined to turn this fascination into a successful career as a food scientist and has bookcases full of recipe books that she reads cover to cover, tweaking and improving on the original recipes.

GBBO - S5

Nancy

Full of energy and ideas, Nancy is known for her sense of humour. Originally from Hull, Nancy moved to Lincolnshire 24 years ago to work as a practice manager for a GP surgery. It was here that she met her husband, Tim, who was a GP at the practice and between them they have five children and eight grandchildren.

Now retired, she keeps active by cycling, growing vegetables, rearing guinea fowl and growing her own turkeys for Christmas in her back garden. Her children call it the 'Good Life’. Nancy also finds time to train dogs for obedience, but one of her canine students, Meg, embarrassed her at Crufts by falling asleep in the judging arena.

Nancy and her husband have renovated a house in the south of France and her time spent there has influenced her baking. She made friends with a French chef with whom she discusses ideas and learns new techniques, and pushed herself to improve her language skills so that she can read original French recipes.

Nancy bakes to feed the family and reduce costs, but also genuinely prefers the taste of home-made baking. She wants to pass on her baking knowledge to her grandchildren and see them develop a passion for food and cooking.

She loves to impart her knowledge to anyone who will take it, even teaching her hairdresser how to bake.

GBBO - S5

Norman

Norman lives on the north-east coast of Scotland. Now retired, Norman joined the Merchant Navy at the age of 19 where he worked as a radio operator and travelled the world. He describes one of his proudest moments as being when he fell overboard three miles off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific and swam to shore, only to be picked up by an inter-Island cruiser near Papua New Guinea.

Norman met his wife, Iris, on shore leave. They married at the age of 21 and have been together for 44 years. His love for her and their three children is rivalled only by his feelings for his pet schnauzer Lucy and for his caravan.

Norman plays the clarinet and makes clocks and pottery in his own kiln, which he’s installed in a studio at home. He works in slab pottery and creates small sculptures from clay.

Norman’s father and brother were bakers, but he didn’t want that lifestyle for himself. However, he would like to bring back traditional Scottish recipes and has contacted some of his father’s old apprentices to revive some of the more traditional Scottish bakes that he fears are being lost.

Despite being fiercely Scottish, he takes his caravan to Perpignan in France and some of his baking is inspired by French patisserie.

Norman cultivates his own yeast starters to make bread and also uses it to brew his own beer and wine.

GBBO - S5

Richard

Richard was born in north London and is a family man through and through. He is the fourth generation working in his family’s building business.

A keen fisher, diver and cyclist, he has his own allotment in his back garden and volunteers for the National Wildlife Trust. He is teaching his daughters eco-friendly ways to help animals by building homes for hedgehogs to hibernate in.

Richard is as comfortable baking in the kitchen as he is building one, and likes to bake with his wife and two little girls.

Making their daughters’ birthday cakes is as big an event as Christmas, with the girls coming downstairs in the morning to see what their parents have created for them.

Richard loves bread and pastry and likes to rummage through his vegetable patch to find something to bake with.

Get it on...

South African audiences have access to five BBC TV channels: BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC World News.