Lunacy or genius? Great British Bake Off fans split on new hosts

The Great British Bake Off viewers are split over Channel 4's choice of hosts for the new series, questioning whether it is "lunacy or genius".

Friday, 17th March 2017, 8:08 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:24 am
Sandi Toksvig (left) and Noel Fielding who have been confirmed as presenters on Channel 4's The Great British Bake Off
Sandi Toksvig (left) and Noel Fielding who have been confirmed as presenters on Channel 4's The Great British Bake Off

Presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding will host the new-look show, which has moved from the BBC after it was sold by Love Productions last year.

They are taking over from previous presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, while Prue Leith replaces long-standing judge Mary Berry.

News of the new signings was trending on Twitter shortly after they were announced, with many loyal fans of the programme surprised at comedian Fielding landing the role.

@ETusty tweeted: "Won't be watching the new bake off on C4. Judges fine, but presenters ... disappointing. Guess the target audience is slightly different!"

@cfcallaghan tweeted: "Sandi Toskvig, Noel Fielding, Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood?! So random, I'll have to watch at least once."

Comedian Fielding was the most talked about signing to be announced.

@nats626 tweeted: "Noel Fielding on Bake Off?! Brave move from Channel 4. Hopefully they'll give him the freedom to be himself as he could be brilliant," and @ohmygabriel tweeted: "Noel fielding hosting bake off is like all my dreams coming true at once."

@estherfindlay tweeted: "I was so adamant I wasn't going to watch the new bake off but noel fielding is hosting so I'm going to HAVE to goddam."

But others were not so convinced it was a good idea.

@C_Worthing tweeted: "If I thought Great British Bake Off was ruined by moving to C4 it certainly is now by choosing Noel Fielding to be new presenter. RIP #GBBO"

@Julespestano tweeted: "Noel @noelfielding11 is going to present the Great British Bake Off i dont know whether to cry! is it lunacy or genius."

Fifteen To One and QI host Toksvig said she is honoured to be part of "this national treasure of a show".

She added: "Noel Fielding is one of the nicest guys in show business.

"The first time I met him I felt like I had met a rather wayward cousin whose take on the world made me laugh.

"The only down side is that he has much better dress sense that I do.

"I spend my daytimes on Channel 4 already so it will be a treat to be there in the evenings.

"I am so delighted to be working with Love Productions and Channel 4 on this best of British show."

Former The Mighty Boosh star Fielding said: "GBBO is one of my favourite shows.

"I've always loved brightly coloured cakes and Sandi Toksvig so this is a dream come true for me! It's basically the double."

Paul Hollywood, who will return as a judge, said he "could not be more delighted" about the show's newcomers.

He said: "Prue is a hugely respected culinary legend and Sandi and Noel are warm and utterly hilarious. I cannot wait to get back in the tent with the bakers."

Leith, who formerly appeared as a judge on the BBC's Great British Menu, said: "I am just so thrilled to be joining Paul, Sandi and Noel on the biggest show on TV and I cannot wait to see what the real stars of the show - the bakers - are going to create for us.

"It is such an honour to be part of The Great British Bake Off team. "

Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer, said the baking show will air this autumn.

Hunt added: "Paul and Prue have huge amounts of expertise and warmth.

"I'm looking forward to seeing them putting our great new bunch of amateur bakers through their paces.

"Sandi and Noel bring a fresh wit and quirkiness to the tent.

"It's just the sort of innovative line-up audiences expect from Channel 4."

Berry quit her role on the Bake Off last year after it was revealed the BBC had lost out to the highest bidders for the rights to broadcast the programme.

Giedroyc and Perkins, who injected a comedy element to the show with their witty puns, also stood down, leaving bread expert Hollywood as the only original Bake Off star to make the channel move.

The show - which puts keen bakers to the test in a series of challenges, ranging from simple cakes to tricky French patisserie creations - had been a BBC fixture since it began in 2010.

Its first four series aired on BBC Two and it moved to BBC One in 2014 due to its increasing popularity.

The news of the new Bake Off line-up comes hours after BBC director-general Lord Hall shared his regret over losing the programme.

Asked if he was upset at GBBO being pinched by Channel 4 while being interviewed by teenage journalists as part of this year's BBC News school report, Lord Hall said: "I was very upset to lose the Bake Off.

"We'll just have to pick ourselves up, and we are doing, and coming up with new things too," he added.

Earlier this week, Leith told the Press Association that she "doesn't want to do a Chris Evans" if she were to replace Berry.

She was referencing the now-ex Top Gear presenter's failed attempt after his predecessors Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May left the motoring show.

At the time, she said she had not yet signed a contract to appear on the series but that she did "hope to have it".

Leith said: "There's not a cook in the country who doesn't want to do that job."