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The Great British Bake Off 2021: Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith return to iconic tent

The Great British Bake Off made its long-awaited return to screens on Tuesday night, with 12 new bakers taking to the famous tent for Cake Week.

The series began with a hilarious homage to country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus, with Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith donning a mullet for a fun skit where they performed a rendition of his hit song Achy Breaky Heart.

This series, once again filmed in a Covid-safe bubble, will see the show’s most diverse group of bakers in the show’s history with a range of different cultures represented in the famous tent.

Achy bakey heart! The Great British Bake Off made its long-awaited return to screens on Tuesday night, with 12 new bakers taking to the famous tent for Cake Week

Paul and Prue began the series with a fun rendition of Cyrus’ hit single Achy Breaky Heart with the lyrics aptly changed to ‘flaky pastry tart,’ with hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas accompanying on instruments. 

The unexpected opening continued with the show’s theme of skits to kick off the series, after Matt transofrmed into Boris Johnson for a reimagining of the government’s press conferences at the height of the Covid pandemic.

Kicking off Cake Week, the bakers were tasked with baking 12 mini rolls for their Signature Challenge, with many taking inspiration from the iconic Black Forest Gateau. 

Amusing: The series began with a hilarious homage to country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus, with Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas donning a mullet for a fun skit

Playful: The show's stars performed a rendition of his hit song Achy Breaky Heart

Amusing: The series began with a hilarious homage to country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus, with Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas donning a mullet for a fun skit where they performed a rendition of his hit song Achy Breaky Heart

Amusing: Paul and Prue began the series with a fun rendition of Cyrus' hit single Achy Breaky Heart with the lyrics aptly changed to 'flaky pastry tart,' with hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas accompanying on instruments

Amusing: Paul and Prue began the series with a fun rendition of Cyrus’ hit single Achy Breaky Heart with the lyrics aptly changed to ‘flaky pastry tart,’ with hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas accompanying on instruments

Sensational: Prue donned a moustache and a cowboy hat as she joined Paul, Noel and Matt in the fun-filled sketch which kicked off the new series in style

Sensational: Prue donned a moustache and a cowboy hat as she joined Paul, Noel and Matt in the fun-filled sketch which kicked off the new series in style

On your marks... get set.. bake! Kicking off Cake Week, the bakers were tasked with baking 12 mini rolls for their Signature Challenge, with many taking inspiration from the iconic Black Forest Gateau

On your marks… get set.. bake! Kicking off Cake Week, the bakers were tasked with baking 12 mini rolls for their Signature Challenge, with many taking inspiration from the iconic Black Forest Gateau

Full of drama! Crystelle was among the 12 bakers taking on the first task of making a mini rolls, with hers inspired by her Goan heritage and her grandmother

Full of drama! Crystelle was among the 12 bakers taking on the first task of making a mini rolls, with hers inspired by her Goan heritage and her grandmother

As ever the programme was riddled with innuendos as the bakers struggled to cover the ‘cracks’ in their sponges wile attempting to create the perfect roll.

Crystelle was also left mortified after her baking tray laden with custard overflowed onto the floor, lamenting: ‘My mum is going to kill me!’

While Jürgen and Giuseppe impressed with their perfectly swirled rolls, Tom and George struggled with the challenge after battling with their timings.

Twins! Noel and Liverpudlian Lizzie both poked fun at their similar fashion senses, with the presenter joking his heeled boots were even higher than hers

Twins! Noel and Liverpudlian Lizzie both poked fun at their similar fashion senses, with the presenter joking his heeled boots were even higher than hers

Mixed outcome: George struggled with his timings meaning he was left with lacklustre rolls

On a high: But Jürgen impressed with his bakes inspired by Black Forest Gateau from his native Germany

Mixed outcome: George struggled with his timings meaning he was left with lacklustre rolls, but Jürgen impressed with his bakes inspired by Black Forest Gateau from his native Germany

Iconic: For their technical challenge, the bakers were given a vintage classic: Malt Loaf

Iconic: For their technical challenge, the bakers were given a vintage classic: Malt Loaf

Cheeky: Despite making history as the show's first ever vegan baker, Freya didn't hold back when detailing the challenges of dairy-free cooking, remarking: 'It's a bit of a faff really'

Cheeky: Despite making history as the show’s first ever vegan baker, Freya didn’t hold back when detailing the challenges of dairy-free cooking, remarking: ‘It’s a bit of a faff really’

Tricky one: While many of the contestants confessed they'd never heard of the divisive cake, it was a tricky feat for all as they attempted to make the stodgy mixture

Tricky one: While many of the contestants confessed they’d never heard of the divisive cake, it was a tricky feat for all as they attempted to make the stodgy mixture

For their technical challenge, the bakers were given a vintage classic: Malt Loaf.

While many of the contestants confessed they’d never heard of the divisive cake, it was a tricky feat for all as they attempted to make the stodgy mixture.

Maggie came out on top with her ‘beautiful’ malt loaf, and the retired midwife fought back tears as she gushed she was ‘pleased’ with Prue and Paul’s compliments, while Freya finished close behind in second place with her equally impressive bake.

Elated: Maggie came out on top with her 'beautiful' malt loaf, and the retired midwife fought back tears as she gushed she was 'pleased' with Prue and Paul's compliments

Elated: Maggie came out on top with her ‘beautiful’ malt loaf, and the retired midwife fought back tears as she gushed she was ‘pleased’ with Prue and Paul’s compliments

Happy: Freya finished close behind in second place with her equally impressive bake

Happy: Freya finished close behind in second place with her equally impressive bake

Tricky challenge: However the technical proved a trickier feat for Chigs, whose bake was branded underdone

Difficult Amanda's was criticised for a poor flour distribution

Tricky challenge: However the technical proved a trickier feat for Chigs, whose bake was branded underdone, while Amanda’s was criticised for a poor flour distribution

However, Amanda and Chigs both struggled with their flour distribution and overall baking time, and finished in last place, putting them in danger heading into the Showstopper challenge.

For their showstopper, the bakers were tasked with creating an anti-gravity illusion cake, designed to appear to be defying gravity, and decorated in a way that represents a precious memory.

From the start it was packed with drama, as Jairzeno’s cake struggled to come together, leaving him with a collapsed blob that needed time to chill in the fridge.

Suspended in the air: For their showstopper, the bakers were tasked with creating an anti-gravity illusion cake, designed to appear to be defying gravity, and decorated in a way that represents a precious memory

Suspended in the air: For their showstopper, the bakers were tasked with creating an anti-gravity illusion cake, designed to appear to be defying gravity, and decorated in a way that represents a precious memory

What's going on? From the start it was packed with drama, as Jairzeno's cake struggled to come together, leaving him with a collapsed blob that needed time to chill in the fridge

What’s going on? From the start it was packed with drama, as Jairzeno’s cake struggled to come together, leaving him with a collapsed blob that needed time to chill in the fridge

Drama: Rochica's cake, designed to mimic an apple hanging from a tree, also split, and the Junior HR Business Partner turned to her piping bag to hide a multitude of sins

Drama: Rochica’s cake, designed to mimic an apple hanging from a tree, also split, and the Junior HR Business Partner turned to her piping bag to hide a multitude of sins

Meanwhile Rochica’s cake, designed to mimic an apple hanging from a tree, also split, and the Junior HR Business Partner turned to her piping bag to hide a multitude of sins.

Chigs managed to redeem himself with his chocolate fudge cake creation, despite his anti-gravity creation collapsing to the floor.

Amanda was also left mortified when her design fell apart just second after it was judged, with Paul and Prue also lameting the cake for being ‘too dry’ and featuring too much elderflower.

Oops! Lizzie's cake was praised for its taste, but Paul advised her to 'neaten up' her finishing

Chaos: Amanda was also left mortified when her design fell apart just second after it was judged

Oops! Lizzie’s cake was praised for its taste, but Paul advised her to ‘neaten up’ her finishing, while Amanda was also left mortified when her design fell apart just second after it was judged

Is that IT? However, Tom's haphazard concert-inspired cake failed to adhere to the brief, and Rochica's showstopper was slightly underfinished

Is that IT? However, Tom’s haphazard concert-inspired cake failed to adhere to the brief, and Rochica’s showstopper was slightly underfinished

Lizzie’s cake was praised for its taste, but Paul advised her to ‘neaten up’ her finishing, and Freya once again earned praise for her boozy chocolate cake.

Crystelle’s showstopper, designed to mimic a bouquet of flowers, was universally praised for her intricate decoration and ‘remarkable flavours,’ and Giuseppe’s design was also lauded by the judges.

However, Tom’s haphazard concert-inspired cake failed to adhere to the brief, and Rochica’s showstopper was slightly underfinished.

Well done! Giuseppe's cake was criticised for being tasteless

Beautiful: Freya's vegan bake was praised for its intricate design

Well done! Both Giuseppe and Freya earned praise for their intricate showstoppers, but the Italian baker’s cake (left) was criticised for being tasteless

Honoured: Despite a vast array of showstoppers, Paul and Prue awarded the first Star Baker of the series to Jürgen after he wowed with a cake to mimic his love of nighttime reading

Honoured: Despite a vast array of showstoppers, Paul and Prue awarded the first Star Baker of the series to Jürgen after he wowed with a cake to mimic his love of nighttime reading

Elated: Reflecting on the honour he said: 'It is incredible, before I thought star baker doesn't matter too much but I feel so woo!'

Elated: Reflecting on the honour he said: ‘It is incredible, before I thought star baker doesn’t matter too much but I feel so woo!’

Despite a vast array of showstoppers, Paul and Prue awarded the first Star Baker of the series to Jürgen after he wowed with a cake to mimic his love of nighttime reading.

Reflecting on the honour he said: ‘It is incredible, before I thought star baker doesn’t matter too much but I feel so… woo!’

But it was curtains for Tom after he failed to fulfil the brief with his showstopper, and he was the first baker this series will be eliminated.

He's gone! But it was curtains for Tom after he failed to fulfil the brief with his showstopper, and he was the first baker this series will be eliminated

He’s gone! But it was curtains for Tom after he failed to fulfil the brief with his showstopper, and he was the first baker this series will be eliminated

Despite the exit, Tom was gracious, saying: ‘I always have been hard on myself than I really should be but I definitely am proud of myself and that must mean quite a bit. I’m so gonna miss hanging out with [the bakers] everyday.’

George was stunned that he had survived for another week, saying: ‘I’m in shock I’m so pleased the judges have sene something in my baking and I’m here for another week.’

An equally stunned Amanda said: ‘I was absolutely thinking I was oging to go first, I’m really sad for Tom he’s such a gentleman.’

Gracious: Despite the exit, Tom was gracious, saying: 'I always have been hard on myself than I really should be but I definitely am proud of myself and that must mean quite a bit. I'm so gonna miss hanging out with [the bakers] everyday'

Gracious: Despite the exit, Tom was gracious, saying: ‘I always have been hard on myself than I really should be but I definitely am proud of myself and that must mean quite a bit. I’m so gonna miss hanging out with [the bakers] everyday’

Next week will see the remaining 11 bakers take on Biscuit Week, with an interactive showstopper, a retro technical and a snap-tastic signature. 

It comes after Freya, the show’s first ever vegan baker was targeted by cruel trolls over her love of horse-riding when it was announced she’d be taking part in the show.

The psychology student, 19, was forced to delete a Facebook page called Freya Cox Eventing, which had documented her achievements in the sport, after she was slammed online by those claiming it is cruel to animals. 

The dressage champion had said she was ‘passionate about ethics’ while posting online about her excitement to join the tent as the show’s first vegan baker – meaning she won’t use animal products.

Shocking: Ahead of the series launch, the show's first ever vegan baker, Freya Cox was targeted by cruel trolls over her love of horse-riding

Shocking: Ahead of the series launch, the show’s first ever vegan baker, Freya Cox was targeted by cruel trolls over her love of horse-riding 

She penned: ‘The secret is finally out! I can’t believe I’m actually writing a post announcing I am going to be on the Great British Bake Off 2021 baking all vegan bakes.

‘I am so passionate about ethics and feel completely blessed to have the opportunity to share this with the world. To say I am the first completely vegan baker on GBBO feels like such an honour. 

‘I will be posting loads of updates, bakes and behind the scenes pics over on my Instagram page if you’d like to follow me on there. Speak to you all soon…the future really is vegan.’

But the post was flooded with mean-spirited comments blasting the teenager for pictures she had posted online showing her riding a horse. 

And more than half of the new line-up is inspired by its contestants’ foreign heritage – with a diverse mixture of cultures being brought to the tent, promising some exciting bakes to come. 

Between them, this year’s cast come from far and wide, with family from Goa to Germany to Greece, as well as Cyprus, Kenya, Portugal and the Middle East.

A baker's dozen! The line-up for The Great British Bake Off 2021 was unveiled earlier this month [L-R: New stars Elizabeth, George, Juergen, Crystelle, Jairzeno, Rochica, Giuseppe, Tom, Maggie, Chirag, Amanda and Freya]

A baker’s dozen! The line-up for The Great British Bake Off 2021 was unveiled earlier this month [L-R: New stars Elizabeth, George, Juergen, Crystelle, Jairzeno, Rochica, Giuseppe, Tom, Maggie, Chirag, Amanda and Freya]

A vast array of professions will also be in the tent, from a Met Police Detective to a Software Developer to a retired Nurse and Midwife.

The youngest of this year’s wannabe winners is a 19-year-old vegan psychology student from Yorkshire, while the rest of the contestants range between ages 26 – 70.

The Channel 4 show was filmed earlier this year with the contestants and crew placed in a COVID-safe filming bubble – the second time this has happened amid the pandemic.

The Great British Bake Off continues on Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 4. 

GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF 2021: WHO ARE THE CONTESTANTS?

Dancing her way into the competition: Rochica's interest in baking developed when she was left unable to dance due to an injury

Dancing her way into the competition: Rochica’s interest in baking developed when she was left unable to dance due to an injury

Bread winner: Lover of traditional baking, Maggie's favourite recipe is bread

Bread winner: Lover of traditional baking, Maggie’s favourite recipe is bread 

Age: 27

Occupation: Junior HR Business Partner

From: Birmingham   

With a big Jamaican family on both sides, Rochica bakes in a way that reflects her Caribbean heritage. Rochica’s interest in baking developed when she was left unable to dance due to an injury. 

Age: 70

Occupation: Retired Nurse and Midwife

From: Dorset 

Maggie has an impressive collection of classic recipe books and loves recreating traditional bakes. Her favourite thing to bake is bread. 

¿¿¿¿¿¿, ¿¿¿, ¿¿¿¿¿¿! George grew up in a close-knit Greek-Cypriot family where food was always a big part of family life

Έτοιμο, σετ, ψήσιμο! George grew up in a close-knit Greek-Cypriot family where food was always a big part of family life

GEORGE 

Age: 34

Occupation: Shared Lives Coordinator

From: London 

George grew up in a close-knit Greek-Cypriot family where food was always a big part of family life. His mum taught him to bake all the Greek classics, a legacy he’s now passing on to his three children.

Revving up the competition: Car Production Operative Lizzie loves baking cakes

 Revving up the competition: Car Production Operative Lizzie loves baking cakes

LIZZIE 

Age: 28

Occupation: Car Production Operative

From: Liverpool

Lizzie lives with dog, Prudence, in an annex in her parents garden and her baking comfort zone is cake. In her spare time she loves dancing.

Life-long dream: Freya has wanted to enter Bake Off since the first series, when she was aged nine and saw the tent in Bakewell

Life-long dream: Freya has wanted to enter Bake Off since the first series, when she was aged nine and saw the tent in Bakewell

FREYA 

Age: 19

Occupation: Psychology Student

From: North Yorkshire 

Freya has wanted to enter Bake Off since the first series, when she was aged nine and saw the tent in Bakewell. She likes to create plant-based bakes.

Pronto, impostato, cuocere! Originally from Italy, Giuseppe was inspired to bake by his father, a professional chef

Pronto, impostato, cuocere! Originally from Italy, Giuseppe was inspired to bake by his father, a professional chef

 GIUSEPPE

Age: 45

Occupation: Chief Engineer

From: Bristol

Originally from Italy, Giuseppe now lives in Bristol with his wife and their three young sons. He was inspired to bake by his father, a professional chef and loves using Italian flavours. 

Black Forest (Gateaux): Jürgen hails from Germany and bakes his own traditional German bread

Black Forest (Gateaux): Jürgen hails from Germany and bakes his own traditional German bread

JÜRGEN

Age: 56

Occupation: Computer Pro

From: Sussex 

Originally from the Black Forest in Germany, Jürgen moved to the UK in 2003. Unable to find traditional German bread here he decided to bake his own – and his passion has grown ever since. 

Locking it in: Chigs took up baking at the start of the first lockdown in 2020

Locking it in: Chigs took up baking at the start of the first lockdown in 2020 

CHIGS

Age: 40

Occupation: Sales Manager

From: Leicestershire

Chigs took up baking at the start of lockdown in 2020 teaching himself complex techniques by carefully studying online videos. 

Bringing the force: Cop Amanda learned to bake with her mum and paternal auntie

Bringing the force: Cop Amanda learned to bake with her mum and paternal auntie

AMANDA

Age: 56

Occupation: Met Police Detective

From: London

Raised in London with Greek-Cypriot heritage, the mother-of-two’s bakes are heavily influenced by Greece and the Middle East having learned to bake with her mum and paternal auntie. 

Midnight baker: Before he moved out of the family home, Tom's mum says she would often wake up to a sweet treat

Midnight baker: Before he moved out of the family home, Tom’s mum says she would often wake up to a sweet treat

TOM

Age: 28

Occupation: Software Developer

From: Kent

Tom’s mum has dubbed him the ‘midnight baker’ as before he moved out of the family home she would often wake up to a sweet treat… and a pile of washing up!  

Quadrilingual Crystelle! This home baker brings her diverse heritage to the flavours in her baking

Quadrilingual Crystelle! This home baker brings her diverse heritage to the flavours in her baking

CRYSTELLE

Age: 26

Occupation: Client Relationship Manager

From: London

Quadrilingual Crystelle is a baker who brings her wonderfully diverse heritage – born in northwest London to Kenyan born, Portuguese-Goan parents – to the flavours in her baking.

'Baking is like breathing!' Trinidadian-born Jairzeno spices up his baking with lots of Caribbean flavours

 ‘Baking is like breathing!’ Trinidadian-born Jairzeno spices up his baking with lots of Caribbean flavours

JAIRZENO

Age: 51

Occupation: Head Of Finance

From: London

Trinidadian-born Jairzeno says ‘baking is like breathing’. He loves using lots of Caribbean spices in his bakes. When he’s not baking he loves running. 

 

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