A few months late but ... perfectly timed!
How are we all? Still enjoying summer? Well, a sign that summer is coming to an end and that TV producers expect us to start staying in and watching TV is the advent of the autumn schedules. There is a glut of cooking programmes on at the moment. Who watched local chef Scott Goss of The Twenty Six on Great British Menu? There's Celebrity Masterchef too and starting next week is the Great British Bake-Off! Whether you're a cake baker or not, we seem to be intrigued by confectionery creations, baking blunders and sensational show-stoppers.
Last year I revealed that we could go behind the scenes and ask former contestant, Jane Beedle, questions about the programme. Thank you to everyone who sent in a question; here are Jane's answers - Thank you Jane!
What was the audition/entry process like?
In theory the audition process is confidential but you can find lots about it on line. I’m going to avoid this question as, although I am now out of contract, I don’t want to upset Love Productions, they were very good to us.
How much warning are you given about what you'll be asked to make especially for e.g. the show stopper? (Appreciate the technical challenge has no warning).
Five weeks before the recording date we started getting recipe requests for the episodes so that by the time we started filming we knew what we were baking and more importantly the show’s producers knew what we were baking and could source all the equipment and ingredients. The Home Economists needed to check that we had hit the brief, they had a huge amount of work to do, 14 bakers (including reserves) 280 recipes to check
Who provides the ingredients?
Love Productions provide the ingredients for the shows and gave us an allowance towards anything we used during recipe development and practise. I think it is safe to say that we all overran that allowance.
Do you give up work for the period of the programme?
Oh no!!! That would have been amazing. We all continue to work at our day jobs, it was relatively easy for me as I’m self employed and could juggle my days to fit with filming but harder for those who had 9-5’s. They had to come up with some elaborate excuses for why they kept disappearing for random days.
Who comes up with all the challenges? Is it really Paul and Pru or do the producers help too?
I have no idea, we were never privy to that information.
Why do they wear the same clothes for both days?
That is a question that we get asked a lot. I think it is for continuity purposes. If for any reason they needed to reshoot something, say an interview or us entering or leaving the tent then wearing the same clothes makes the editing so much simpler.
How long does one episode take to film?
An episode is filmed over a two day period just as it appears in the program. The first day we do the signature bake and technical challenge then the showstopper is filmed on the second day.
Do the judges really not take into account previous weeks when deciding who goes?
I have no idea, we know as much as you.
Who eats all the baked goods?
Another frequently asked question! The bakers get to try all the bakes but the huge majority of the food is consumed, very quickly!, by the crew. Nothing is left!
Do they really stop when the time is up?
Yes indeed. From ‘Ready Steady Bake’ to ‘step away from your bakes’ the time is exactly as specified, not a minute more! It is never enough.
Does anyone help you with ideas, presentation?
No, we get a brief then it is up to us how we interpret it. They are very strict, we get no help at all, they try to be scrupulously fair and not favour any one baker over the others. The safest thing to do is not to help anyone.
Jane has very kindly contributed some recipes to The Cook Book Sevenoaks - Tonbridge - Tunbridge Wells which yours truly is helping to create too! You can pre-order the book now using this link: http://www.treeofhope.org.uk/shop - the book is a real celebration of west Kent's foodie scene. A great gift for Christmas or just for you!
In the meantime, prepare yourself for The Great British Bake-Off, Channel 4, Tuesday 28th August 8pm. Bake!
P.S. While in the US this summer I came across Nailed It!, another baking show but hilarious! Amateur bakers have to try to make a professional's 'show stopper' with very funny results. The judges comedically provide their opinions....like GBBO, another good family watch, available on Netflix.
Pinned photo courtesy of @emily_morter