Great British Baking Show Review

Going into the fifth season of “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix, viewers knew that big changes were coming. When the show moved from BBC to Channel 4, three of the signature personalities, Mary Berry, Sue Perkins, and Mel Giedroyc, did not make the move with it. Judge Berry announced her loyalty to the BBC, while the comedic pair of Perkins and Giedroyc cited various reasons for not “going with the dough” and following the show to Channel 4 (BBC Entertainment). All three personalities were sorely missing in season five.

The only remaining original cast member is Paul Hollywood, who was joined by a new judge, Prue Leith, and two new hosts, Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig. Although Berry’s sharp wit and quiet resolve is surely missed, Leith has proven that she has a personality that will not be undermined by Hollywood’s intensity. Her addition to the show is actually complementary, but the same can’t be said for the two new hosts. While Perkins and Giedroyc had a quirky chemistry in their friendship that showed on camera, the two new hosts, Fielding and Toksvig, are stiff and even awkward at times. On paper, the contrast between Fielding’s goofy naivety and Toksvig’s snark looks good, but the two have yet to hit their stride in season five. Toksvig, particularly, comes off rigid and falls short of the intended effect. This, and other factors has made the show stiff, taking away from the signature congeniality of the show.

The charm of “The Great British Baking Show” comes from the lovable home-bakers and the relationships they build. Unlike other competition shows, the contestants are real congenial people who are kind to each other. Even with all the changes, the show has managed to preserve this, and so, despite some on screen awkwardness, has not approached the point of no return.

The previous hosts left big shoes to fill, and it’s understandable that the new hosts wouldn’t fit into those same comedic roles or styles, but right now it is like Hollywood has said to bakers on numerous occasions, it just doesn’t work.