10 Things You Never Knew About 'The Great British Baking Show's Judges and PresentersSeptember 25, 2020
The Great British Baking Show returns to Netflix today (September 25) for a new season carefully filmed in accordance with the U.K.'s social distancing guidelines. The contestants, production crew, judges and presenters all had to form a safe "bubble" to make the show possible this year, which meant self-isolating for nine days before shooting started, then staying in the same hotel which producers had fully booked out for the duration of filming.
It was definitely worth it, because The Great British Baking Show feels as cozy and comforting as ever and has already attracted a massive audience of eight million in the U.K., where the new season started Tuesday.
To whet your tastebuds, here are some things you might not know about judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, returning presenter Noel Fielding, and new co-host Matt Lucas, whom you'll definitely recognize as Nardole from Doctor Who.
1. As well as being an actor, comedian, and TV presenter, Fielding is an accomplished artist.
He regularly displays his work at Maison Bertaux, the oldest patisserie in London, which means The Greatest British Baking Show isn't the only time his career has been closely associated with cakes. Fielding is such an art lover that he named his two-year-old daughter Dali after the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí.
2. In the past, Leith has run her own Michelin-starred restaurant – Leith's in Notting Hill – and co-founded a training academy for professional chefs, Leith's School of Food and Wine. She's also a prolific novelist.
Leith sold her restaurant and cookery school in the '90s, but her commercial acumen remained very much in demand, because she later served as a non-executive director for several prominent companies including British Rail, hospitality giant Whitbread, and U.K. banking brand Halifax. She admitted to The Times in 2018: "I love business, but I know other people find it boring. My editors are always telling me there’s too much business in my novels."
3. In 2008, Hollywood created what was billed as "Britain's most expensive loaf of bread."
His luxurious Roquefort and almond bread went on sale at super-fancy London department store Harrods for a hefty £15 ($19) a loaf. Paraphrasing Marie Antoinette, Hollywood said at the time: "There may be a recession but let them eat bread. It's a fantastic loaf – the best I've ever made. The ordinary loaf is lacking in excitement but this is the Rolls-Royce of loaves."
4. Lucas scored a bona fide hit single earlier this year, and it was all for charity.
Back in April, he released "Thank You Baked Potato," a new version of a comedy song he originally sang 20 years earlier on U.K. panel show Shooting Stars. Featuring lyrics reminding folks to "wash your hands and stay indoors" and "only go to grocery stores," the single raised money for FeedNHS, an initiative providing free meals for hospital staff during the coronavirus crisis. It reached a very creditable #34 on the U.K. charts.
5. Leith's son Danny Kruger used to work as a speechwriter for former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
And since 2019 he's served as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Devizes, a town in southwest England – something his mom is evidently very proud of.
6. Between 2012 and 2015, Lucas shared a West Hollywood apartment with his Bridesmaids co-star Rebel Wilson.
During a 2012 appearance on Conan, Wilson revealed that she and Lucas had angered one of their neighbors by chatting loudly after 10pm and singing show tunes from Annie in their hot tub. The neighbor apparently sent them an anonymous letter which read: "Both of you are way too old to ever be cast as child orphans. "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" - yeah, and so will the cops!"
7. Fielding once tried to break into his pal Russell Brand's house in L.A.
“I tried to sneak into the house at 3:30 in the morning,” he told the Daily Herald in 2015. “He had 50 Cent’s house in L.A., that's where he was living. I had no keys, so I tried to climb over the fence. It was an electric fence and the alarm went off and I was like, ‘F**k, this isn’t going well.’ The next thing, there’s a beam on my head and a policeman telling me, ‘Sir, get off the fence.’"
8. Lucas lost all of his hair when he was just six years old.
In a 2017 article for The Guardian, Lucas said that doctors diagnosed his hair loss as "a delayed response to the shock of being knocked down by [a] car in Portugal two years earlier." He also wrote candidly about the ways in which being bald has shaped his life and career. "My childhood was tough, yes. No one wants to feel eternally self-conscious, constantly stared at, teased, mocked and bullied. But also it’s important to get things into perspective," he wrote. "Being bald has helped me in my career... My baldness has made me distinctive, yet also allowed me to transform myself. Stick a wig on and I’m someone else. Swap the wig and I’m now another person. Perfect."
9. Hollywood got former The Great British Baking Show judge Mary Berry arrested after she vandalized his car a few years ago.
Don't worry! It was just a playful prank, as Hollywood recalled amusingly during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show – you can watch the clip below.
10. When Leith took over from Mary Berry, Berry gave her some sound advice.
"I'm in touch with Mary and we've been friends for years. She said watch out for Paul Hollywood," Leith told the Daily Express in 2017, adding: "She [also] said, 'Don't just follow Paul. Don't stand behind Paul and just agree with him. Just be yourself and go for it.'"
Who's your favorite ever presenter or judge from The Great British Baking Show?