Who Are Your New 'Great British Bake Off' Hosts?

March 20, 2017

Last September, BBC’s widely-beloved Great British Bake Off was thrown into a tailspin. It found itself uprooted from its BBC home and suddenly without its two hosts, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. Instead, the show would be jumping ship to Channel 4. What followed was months of seemingly interminable suspense as to who would replace these sweet, compulsively watchable hosts. Numerous people said no when approached with the ask—reportedly, Jamie Oliver, Dawn French, and Jennifer Saunders all declined to take over hosting duties because the show was now “toxic.”

Last Thursday, we received an answer: Channel 4 announced that it’d settled on Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding as the show's new hosts. The judging panel has also gone through some changes. In addition to the two hosts, Mary Berry, one of the original show’s head judges, has been replaced by South African–born food writer Prue Leith. Toksvig, Fielding, and Leith will join Paul Hollywood, the sole holdout from the original BBC version of the show, to round out the new panel of judges.

It isn't Toksvig's first time at this rodeo. She’d hosted BBC quiz show QI and The News Quiz Show on BBC Radio 4 before. Projecting ease, charm, and grace is in her natural register.

Fielding, though, is a slightly more offbeat choice—to put it lightly. He’s a little kooky! Fielding’s perhaps best known for being one half of The Mighty Boosh, a comedy troupe he co-founded with Julian Barratt. (Perhaps you'll remember him as Old Gregg). He’s loud and brusque, basically a sentient firework.

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I find him quite appealing, but there are many others who don’t agree: People have already taken to Twitter to comment on the abject bizarreness of this particular casting choice. Channel 4 has responded firmly by saying that Fielding, 43, is part of a bid to bring in a newer, fresher audience that the show desperately needs.

Personally, I'm all for him being part of the show as it grasps for a new identity after months of uncertainty and tumult. Perhaps these furies will quiet when the show airs this fall, when we’ll see once and for all whether the magic and charisma of the original has survived.

What do you think of this new casting news? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


cookinalong March 23, 2017
I'm going to miss Mel and Sue, not to mention Mary Berry. It sounds like they're going for a whole new approach, so I'm a bit apprehensive. What I love about the show is that it's not some hyped up Project Runway for bakers, with contestants sniping at one another & all kinds of nasty interplay. Even the judges are civilized and respectful, even if Paul can be a bit abrupt. I hope they aren't going to go the route of Iron Chef or Cake Boss. That would be a turn-off.
Carole P. March 23, 2017
will it be shown on American TV ???????
Debbie J. March 23, 2017
Bring Mary Berry & the 2 women back. I won't bother to watch it anymore.
AntoniaJames March 21, 2017
I'm fairly certain that no matter who is hosting / judging, I'm still going to enjoy it 100 times more than any food-related cooking competition show produced in the US. I find the kindness, mutual respect and lack of bravado on GBBO so much more appealing.

The more important inquiry, may I respectfully suggest, is whether, or how, any of us in the US will be seeing this, if all PBS federal funding is eliminated under the proposed budget.

Also, it's not obvious that those of us in the US will see it this fall, as suggested. To date, the series has been released in the UK in the fall, but US viewers have had to wait until the spring/summer. ;o)
Hannah W. March 21, 2017
I miss Mell and Sue already :(
Brittanie March 20, 2017
What actually happened to make everyone leave? I am so out of the loop and find this article shocking! I had no clue.
HalfPint March 20, 2017
The production company sold the show to Channel 4 because the BBC couldn't pay for this really popular show. Mary, Sue, & Mel opted not to go to the new broadcasters, out of loyalty to the BBC.
Brittanie March 21, 2017
Oh thank you. That is so disappointing, but I guess I can't blame them.
OnionThief March 20, 2017
I loved Noel in The IT Crowd. Certainly, he is capable of keeping things low key when appropriate. And I will give the new show a chance. While I love Mary, I really love the contestants best. So as long as i can continue to watch Britishers tutting over misbehaving sponges, i don't care who pops up to narrate the in-between bits
Nomnomnom March 20, 2017
Jan H. March 20, 2017
Not interested in the new show. Loved the BBC version but not impressed by the production company's greedy move ... lost respect for 'the male judge' PH.
Claire S. March 20, 2017
Without Mary Berry, is there really any reason to watch?
Debbie J. March 23, 2017
No there isn't.
Whiteantlers March 20, 2017
I found the previous judges (Mel and Sue) utterly tedious and insufferable, especially the one who always felt like she was extremely funny (she wasn't) and thought it was fine to make risque comments and double entendres to the poor contestants. I always loved watching the bakers but as far as I was concerned, someone should have shoved them into a big oven to shut them up. I used to have fantasies about pie-ing both of them until they screamed "Uncle." The replacements look worse, if that is even possible. I won't be watching.
soupcon March 20, 2017
Prue Leith I have all kinds of respect for and Hollywood will be... well.. just Hollywood. Not sure anybody can fill the shoes of Mel and Sue and certainly will not be watching the replacement for the GBBO on BBC1 anytime soon.
witloof March 20, 2017
Not going to watch the new one.
HalfPint March 20, 2017
My heart is still pining for all the women who left GBBO. Just as we (Americans) are given the chance to fall for this show, the source of its charm has been changed. In my experience, when too much has been changed, it is often never good. I don't want to judge before seeing the new show, but can't help being sad. I'm not all that concern with the casting of Noel Fielding as long as his chemistry with the rest of the team works. The same can be said for all the newbies to GBBO. What made it great was the chemistry between everyone from the judges to the hosts to the contestants. If they can get that same chemistry, it should be just fine.
Martin B. March 20, 2017
Welcome to the short-lived world of British TV. It can be a great strength but a weakness too. I am not in favor of the money-grubbing move to C4 by the production company. It's almost certainly guaranteed GBBOff's death. However, Noel Fielding mixes charm and diplomacy with his humour. He captained a team on the long-running show 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks' where highly-strung (and strung-out) rock and pop stars had to be gently handled every week. He's a good choice especially as his brand of double-entendre is more subtle than Sue's subtle-as-a-flying-mallet approach. Prue Leith might weaken the show because, unlike Mary Berry, she did not make her name baking cakes and it's possible that an emboldened Paul H will become a little too overbearing. However, she is one of the judges on the show that inspired GBBOff: 'The Great British Menu.' It's been running longer than the 'Bake-Off' and Prue has to deal with two pontificating, self-regarding male co-judges. She does so with aplomb. So, as with Mary Berry, Paul H may have met his match. I hope so, I'd hate to see it wither away.