In this tumultuous year of oh Lord 2020, many of us are looking for any silver linings we can find, and here’s one: A new season of “The Great British Baking Show” returns to Netflix on Friday, September 25.
Like so much else in this coronavirus-colored world, the show could not go on as usual, but it sounds like it should look and feel familiar to viewers, at least. Most of the major changes were behind the scenes, including intensive cleaning procedures.
While the congenial baking competition is normally filmed over a 12-week period (largely on weekends so the contestants can keep up their usual day jobs and routines), this season was filmed in just six weeks.
During that time, the bakers, judges, and entire crew were all quarantined together in a so-called “biosphere” bubble at Down Hall, a hotel set amid 110 acres of woodland, parkland, and landscaped gardens. Sounds pretty close to the bucolic countryside we’re all used to—honestly, I’m just incredibly happy it’s not an all-virtual competition with everyone on Zoom.
Of course, the camaraderie of “The Great British Baking Show” is one of its greatest charms, and with everyone sequestered together in the bubble, the bakers were able to get close (physically and otherwise) and give each other emotional support in the tent as we’ve come to expect.
It sounds like hugs are definitely happening, then, but there won’t be any Hollywood handshakes this year; whether Paul elbow bumps anyone to acknowledge a sublime bake remains to be seen.
And yes, the rampant flour shortages of early 2020 did occur during filming—the teaser trailer made cheeky reference to it—but most of the show’s supplies were ordered from wholesale vendors in advance. So everyone was able to practice their bakes and there should be the usual abundance of cakes, cookies, breads, and obscure pastries to throw the contestants for a loop in the technical challenges.
The most notable difference actually has nothing to do with COVID-19: English actor and comedian Matt Lucas is now Noel Fielding’s co-presenter, taking the place of Sandi Toksvig. So no more short jokes (probably), but fingers crossed the new duo’s rapport is as sweet as Sandi and Noel’s.
Season 11 of “The Great British Bake Off” (as it’s known in its home country) airs on September 22 in the UK, but American audiences can tune in on September 25, 2020 on Netflix, and catch a new episode every Friday.
The delightfully soothing drama of semi-high-stakes baking is sure to be a balm for all GBBO fans this fall.
Header image courtesy of Pekic / E+ / Getty Images