MasterChef for amateur bakers, basically. Hosted in its classic form by comedy double act Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, and judged by British celebrity pastry chefs Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
Episodes are set in the Bake Off Tent — pitched in the gorgeous grounds of a stately country manor — and span a series of ten weekends divided into themes, including Bread, Pastry, Biscuitsnote and Patisserie. Twelve participants must complete three timed baking challenges in each program. Rather than being judged against one another, they are expected to build their own skills and either noticeably improve their performances or maintain a consistently high standard.
The challenges are, in order:
- Signature — Each contestant must produce an original take on a standard type of that week's theme (crackers, breadsticks etc).
- Technical — Either Mary or Paul provide the bare outline of one of their own recipes, then both leave the tent while the contestants interpret it via their own baking knowledge. The judges then return and, still unaware of who made what, rank their efforts against the standard.
- Showstopper — Like the Signature, but considerably more, well, showstopping. Often involves a towering 3D creation, as contestants are expected to show off genuinely complex skills and ingenuity.
Each week the best performer overall is named "Star Baker", while the poorest is eliminated. The ultimate winner of each series is given an inscribed plate and the knowledge that upwards of a fifth of their countrymen have just watched them prove themselves the nation's greatest creator of home-baked creams, cakes and pies.
Deliberately and completely eschewing the typical manufactured melodrama of many reality-show competitions, the program takes a more lighthearted and friendlier approach, with the hosts in particular given free rein to indulge their love of comic accents and bad puns... among many other things. Any drama that arises is generally because of individual mishaps or lack of time rather than interpersonal conflicts (though they have occasionally occurred).
Despite this — or perhaps because of it — the show has become a massive hit and is credited with single-handedly reviving the long tradition of baking in Britain, having inspired a huge increase in participants along with the inevitable economic implications, through cookery classes, books etc. Several of the winners and runners-up have gone on to carve out thriving celebrity baking careers from the notoriety.
Having spent its first four series on BBC2, the fourth receiving the best ratings yet (and by that, we mean the best ratings for a regular series on that channel in at least twenty years) meant that the fifth series onwards was to be shown on BBC1. Also starting with the fifth series, each episode is accompanied by An Extra Slice, a follow-up hosted by Jo Brand that takes a humorous look at the latest episodes with various celebrities in front of a live audience. The move to BBC1 resulted in astonishing ratings, with the show becoming the most-watched programme on British television, full stop.
In September 2016 it was announced that the production company that makes the show had rejected the BBC's bid for renewal and the show will be moving to Channel 4. This led to a huge audience backlash, and Mary along with Mel and Sue announced they would not be part of the move. The first Channel 4 series began in August 2017, with Paul Hollywood the only one of the lineup to jump channel; Mary has been replaced by Prue Leith and Mel and Sue by Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding. Whilst viewing figures are down, they are still very strong by C4's standards, and the new incarnation has received positive reviews, on the understanding that it's no longer the iconic version.
As of summer 2019, seven seasons of the program are available on Netflix note , as is Masterclass — in which Paul and Mary make the different challenge items themselves.
Tastes strongly of these tropes:
- Artistic License Chemistry: Kim-Joy of series 9 used Indian black salt in her vegan quiches to give them an egg-like flavour, but mistakenly referred to the salt as smelling of sulphur, even though sulphur is actually odourless.
- Aside Glance: Mel briefly side-eyes the camera by way of underlining her puns.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Yes, the judges' names are really Mary Berry (actually, Mary-Rosa Alleyne Berry) and Paul Hollywood.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Flora's skillset in series 6 fell loosely under this; she just couldn't stop overdecorating her creations, often far beyond what was required. This resulted in her overextending her abilities which in turn weakened her overall efforts, producing among other things runny cream horns and an underbaked chocolate tart thanks to elaborate tuille and macaron decorations respectively. In the Class of 2015 special, it was mentioned that the bakers referred to this as "Florafication".
- Berserk Button:
- For Paul, any basic mistake such as missing an ingredient—as David did in episode four of series 1, when he missed the eggs from the technical challenge (a soufflé)—or accidentally substituting salt for sugar (which has actually happened twice in as many series) means you're automatically out of the competition. The soufflé episode in question was framed to make it look as if there was more to it than that, but Paul's anger at the error was completely clear, especially at the end.
- For all her comparative gentleness in getting it across, Mary can be as much of a perfectionist as Paul, and does not appreciate flaws in basic technique. Hilariously demonstrated in the first episode of series 5, as she watches a contestant try to achieve a tight Swiss roll by scoring it across beforehand. Of course it simply breaks apart at the cuts, and as this becomes more and more obvious Mary gets more and more tight-lipped, shaking her head in disapproval. Paul(!) and Sue have to bodily escort her away ("Now, now, come along and leave the nice boy alone...") before the stern lecture she's clearly dying to give can erupt.
- In terms of flavouring, any contestant using alcohol in a bake Paul is about to taste had better make very sure they've got the strength exactly right, preferably down to the barest hint. Mary, meanwhile, doesn't at all mind a little extra booze in a bake (to the point where it's become a mild Running Gag), but is otherwise very hard to convince re: unusual flavours or ingredients.
- Though he's become more accepting in recent seasons, Paul Hollywood and lavender. It's not floral flavors in general, as he does like when rosewater is used correctly, but every time a contestant mentions using lavender they are met with a pointed glance, "Lavender? Really?", and a speech about making sure it's not overpowering.
- Big Sister Instinct: Mel and Sue are fiercely protective of the contestants, to the extent of ensuring that no footage of them overtly crying, angry, upset, etc. ever gets aired by swooping in front of the cameras and either physically blocking the contestants from view or swearing loudly and eloquently to render the footage useless.
- Blatant Lies: James's claim in the biscuit week of series 3 that his derelict gingerbread barn was the intended outcome. Unfortunately he'd already showed the judges and by extension the audience the plans for the intact barn, so he wasn't fooling anyone. Except perhaps Paul, who genuinely seemed to think he might have been leading them on with the complete version.
- Book-Ends: Series 4 and 6 both begin with Cake Week, then have an elaborate cake as the final Showstopper challenge.
- The first technical challenge of series 1 and the final technical challenge of series 7 (and the final technical challenge on BBC) were both Victoria sandwich cakes.
- Boring, but Practical: This was Cool Old Guy Norman's approach in season 5. His creations were based on very common recipes and had little or no flair to them, but were perfectly executed.
- Boring Invincible Hero:
- Brendan in series 3 made it to the final having been pretty much perfect in every week, only not being Star Baker every week due to moments of genius from the other contestants (James in particular). His safe but efficient style wasn't enough in the final, but his being there was almost guaranteed from the start.
- Ruth, the runner-up of series 1, who was so calm and composed, she would often finish ahead of time while everyone else was rushing to meet the deadline.
- And series 4 finalist Kimberley as well, who showed few weaknesses in the contest but ended up on the wrong side of a Technician vs. Performer battle with Frances.
- Series 6's Ian rarely messed up and managed to win Star Baker three times in a row. He ultimately didn't win in the final, however.
- Both series 8's Sophie and Steven fit this to different degrees; the latter won Star Baker three times (including the first two weeks) and only came close to elimination in the semi final (leading many to claim he was a plant), whereas the former was always somewhere between the middle and top and never really lost her calm. It was obvious from the first two episodes that they'd be finalists, the only question being who'd join them.
- Bragging Rights Reward:
- The weekly Star Baker title confers absolutely no prize or benefit to the recipient whatsoever, and—as a few of the finalists have discovered to their chagrin—even winning it multiple times in a row is no guarantee of ultimate success.
- The overall series title, as noted, is also a Bragging Rights Reward, though at least the winner gets a trophy. The exposure and associations of having won such a competition often bring their own rewards, of course.
- There is also the excitement contestants feel when Paul doles out a handshake for a job particularly well done.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: During the Victoria sandwich signature challenge in Season 2
- Glenn: Normally people like my cakes...but then, the people who eat my cakes aren't normally professionals. Or judges. Or professional judges.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The showstopper in the Biscuits episode of series 7 requires the contestants to make a gingerbread scene that contains at least eight different things. Louise decides to depict her wedding, so she explains that her scene will have a church, a gingerbread groom, bride, and vicar, and some gravestones.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Rob of series 2, an attractive, charming, clearly talented young baker with a distinctly offhand attitude to time management, resulting in a series of great-tasting but visually disastrous bakes. This drove Paul insane.
- Selasi of series 7 gained a reputation for always being chilled even if his time management was all over the place. How much time he spent lying on the floor became something of a running gag.
- Brutal Honesty: Paul can and will tell contestants their creations are completely and utterly awful. Mary almost always sugarcoats to some degree, knowing that Paul will get the message across anyway.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Joe Wilkinson, in the celebrity bake-off. Nobody would have thought that he would win star baker, including Joe himself. Especially with his showstopper arse cake. But he did well on all three challenges.
- Butt-Monkey: Poor Howard in series 4. He accidentally cut his fingers in week one, Sue flattened his muffins in the second week, then Deborah mistook his custard for hers and put it on her trifle before realising it was his (to be fair she was mortified and he was allowed to use hers). He forgave Deborah and Sue, but he did audibly wish for just one uneventful bake.
- Call-Back: Weirdly, a callback to a brief cutaway shot included in the final of series 2, of a squirrel displaying rather prominent male genitalia (shots of squirrels near the tent had featured as scene-setting throughout that series, but this particular one had clearly been held back for the final). When a series 4 contestant chose to decorate her cake with icing squirrels, Mel suggested that the one on top be tranformed into "the Bake Off Squirrel" by the addition of two large nuts. The contestant (Frances) acquiesced to this, though it's not entirely clear she'd got the reference... though given it was Frances, she probably had.
- Carrying a Cake: More usually involves the cake mix or other ingredients—although it's not uncommon for finished products to collapse as well, notably Rob's Genoese sponge disaster in series 2. Luckily, when things end up on the floor, it's usually early enough in the round to start over—or in Rob's case, miraculously rescue one of the two delicate cake layers and end up being highly praised for its quality.
- Catchphrase: Several.
- "On your marks, get set — bake!" from Mel and Sue.
- "You've got a soggy bottom" and many variants, from Paul.
- "Under/Overworked" or "Under/Overproved", similarly from Paul, and sometimes mocked by Sue and Mel in his Oop North accent.
- "Ooh, don't they look tempting!" and many variants, from Mary.
- "Sheer perfection" and "Scrumptious!" also from Mary.
- Cathryn of series 3 was prone to exclaiming "Oh, my giddy aunt!" in moments of high stress.
- In series 7, "It's a bit informal" and variations thereof from Mary ("informal" being a codeword for "messy as anything")
- Celebrity Edition: Runs in January for Comic/Sport Relief (and for Stand Up to Cancer since the move to Channel 4). The first series featured three 'heats' with the winners of each progressing to the final, whilst the second and third's episodes were each standalone competitions, with the third also having different substitute hosts for each episode as well.
- Christmas Episode: In December of 2018, the show aired a Christmas Episode featuring four former fan-favorite contestants and holiday-themed bakes. On January 1, 2019, a New Year's special episode, featuring another four former fan-favorites, also aired.
- Companion Show: The fifth series has introduced an accompanying show called "The Great British Bake-Off: An Extra Slice", in which Jo Brand and a couple of guests console the eliminated contestant and discuss the week's show.
- The Great British Bake-Off Master Class—a couple of standalone episodes per series featuring Paul and Mary alone in the Bake Off Tent demonstrating how the technical challenge recipes should have been made—debuted with Series Three.
- Compassionate Critic: Paul always, and Mary sometimes.
- Cooking Duel: Strictly speaking there's no one-on-one duels, though it's quite common for two particularly bad bakers to be desperately fighting for survival, with everyone else more or less safe, in the showstopper challenge.
- Cool Old Guy: Norman, the Scottish ex-Merchant Navy officer of series 5. Kicked out relatively and inevitably early due to his resolute lack of sophistication (freely admitting he didn't even know how to spell 'tiramisu' was a highlight), but ended up becoming universally beloved by the viewership for exactly that reason... well, that and showing Sue how to spell B-A-K-E in semaphore.
- Cool Old Lady: Mary Berry CBE, the 82-year-old undisputed grande dame of British baking with more than 75 cookbooks to her name. Despite all of which, refuses to put on haughty airs or otherwise intimidate the contestants, instead playing a supportive, everybody's-favourite-grandma foil to Paul's terrifyingly perfectionist Science Hero.
- And when Berry left, in came Prue Leith, another affable veteran with impeccable cookery credentials and vibrant dress sense.
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: Rahul did really badly in Danish week, burning or otherwise messing up every one of the three stages. But he messed up Danish creations. Manon on the other hand went French on Danish week, and while her bakes were a little better she was de facto disqualified and left the tent.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Dan's Biscuit Selfie in Series 9 Episode 1 is of him holding his new baby. The baby in question appears to be entirely wrapped in a pink swaddling cloth. Paul Hollywood thinks it looks like a prawn. Kim-Joy also doesn't think that it looks like a baby...
- Double Entendre:
Mel: What's that down there?
- Paul's obsession with looking for moisture affecting the crispness of pastry bases — "soggy bottoms". Mel and Sue don't exactly dissuade him from using the term at every possible opportunity, and will do so themselves if he doesn't.
- Inevitable in any episode featuring tarts or buns.
- Successful Madeira cake should show a prominent crack. Mel and Sue pass up no opportunity for a crack-related comment.
- Sue is generally very good at creating innuendos out of perfectly innocuous dishes. "OK, everyone, you've got half an hour! Let's get those lady-fingers soggy!"Sue: Good morning, bakers. The following signature challenge has been assessed by the Double Entendre Police and Im delighted to inform you that Paul and Mary would love you to make cream horns. And theres nothing fun to say about that whatsoever.
- Mary pulls off a totally, hilariously innocent one during a challenge, inspecting a contestant's plans to use hemp flour: "What is hemp, exactly? A kind of grass, is it?"Sue: [clearly desperate to keep a straight face] It's the legal kind of grass, Mary, yeah...
- Sue gets off a corker before the titles of series 7 have even started rolling, while she and Mel are going through a box of whisks, rolling pins and other assorted kitchen aids.
Sue: That? That's from home. I don't know why that's there. Sorry.
- While presenting her pub-themed Showstopper in the second episode of series 7, Candice invites Mel to 'grab her jugs' (that is, bring them up to the front table), and Mel pays it forward by inducing Mary to say how much she's looking forward to eating some (sticky gingerbread) carpet.
- Candice seemed to pull one of these out every week, including 'nobody likes a small underfilled ball' during bread week, 'I don't even have lace pants' in batter week, and 'sometimes you just need to get your hands in there and give your sausages a good squeeze' in pastry week.
- Sue, upon learning that week's technical challenge was religieuses, which look like little pastry nuns: "I've never eaten a nun before."
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- The first couple series are much more subdued and conventionally focused on the competition aspect. In place of the hosts' comedy bits and enthusiastically dubious 'help', we get the judges giving contestants long, earnest lectures on technique. Sue has also claimed in interviews that she and Mel nearly quit early on over demands that they stir up weepy melodrama as per more traditional reality competitions. At any rate, the now-signature lightheartedness erupts in series 3 so fully formed that it's clear a deliberate decision was taken somewhere to loosen things up.
- Mel and Sue didn't do the voiceovers in the first series; a male narrator, Stephen Noonan, did them instead. The duo also initially shared some of their current hosting chores with Paul, who's seen in several series 1 episodes calling time ("Ten minutes left!") and otherwise encouraging the contestants to get a move on.
- The first series took the contestants all over the country — to places as far apart as Mousehole in Cornwall and Scone in Perth & Kinross. This aspect was dropped from subsequent series as it was pretty much pointless (not to say expensive).
- Although the Showstopper has always been the final round, it didn't gain the name until series 2. In the first series it was just called "the final challenge". Likewise the "Star Baker" award didn't get introduced until series 2.
- Mary Berry wearing spectacles in the first few series.
- Mary and Paul are far more likely to disagree with each other over a bake in the first few series, though never to the point where it impedes the judging. Mary also more frequently takes light-hearted jabs at Paul's mannerisms and harsh critiquing methods. Later series have them working more in unison, with disagreements being extremely rare.
- Elimination Statement: And also by those who came closest to elimination but survived, implying they are flat out told this. Even if they aren't, they usually know anyway and the judges are frequently seen saying things like "You'd better improve for next week or you're gone" as the camera pans away after the result.
- Endangered Soufflé: Averted in series 6 when the contestants are asked to make a chocolate soufflé. A couple had their problems, but none of them collapsed before being judged.
- Epic Fail: The stroopwaffel technical challenge in series 8, where all of the contestants fail to get it right and the winner ends up being the least bad.
- At least twice, bakers have accidentally used salt instead of sugar. Both times led to an inedible bake and a harsh judging from Paul and Mary.
- In the series 5 quarterfinal technical challenge, four of the five contestants' breads were underdone, two so much so that Paul and Mary were unwilling to taste them. The only one to be decently baked, Chetna's, happened because she had coincidentally made the same bread for the Signature bake.
- Everything's Better With Chocolate: A common choice, though the difficulty in baking with it (particularly with bread) is frequently noted and contestants have met with mixed success. Naturally, the judges enjoy including particularly difficult chocolate-related tasks, such as tempering, as part of the technical challenges. In series 6, it finally became an entire week's theme.
- Flipping the Bird: In series 4, after a bad review, Howard was shown pushing his glasses up with his middle finger, so it may not have been on purpose.
- Food Porn: The show never misses an opportunity to showcase the contestants' offerings in close-up, high-resolution, slowly-rotating shots that give the audience a good look at every individual flake of a pastry. And even when the food itself doesn't turn out quite as intended, they preface each challenge with a stylized drawing of each contestant's intended offering, which is often nearly as mouth-watering as the real thing, even collected into a coloring book full of all the bakes and set dressings.
- Foreshadowing: In the biscuit episode in series 3, James notes after the first round that everyone relies on luck to some degree, him more than most. In the episode's showstopper challenge, he miraculously turns a gingerbread barn that has fallen apart into a gingerbread derelict barn. It isn't clear if Paul has even noticed it was a patch-up job (he said that it was perfect if intended, and great even if it wasn't), and it wins James Star Baker.
- Friendly Rivalry: The contestants almost never show any antagonism towards each other, being incredibly friendly and helpful.
- Contestants who finish their bakes early will frequently pitch in and help those who are struggling to complete their own bakes within the time limit, as when Richard and Chetna of Series 5 stepped in to help colleague Martha recover from a mishap during the Pastry Showstopper. In Series 7, Jane, Kate, and Tom stepped in to calm Candice down and help make her chocolate loaf look presentable as she was becoming increasingly upset and panicking.
- In one incident in series 1, David's oven shorted out and Ruth offered to share her own (which would have hurt her own cooking due to having to open the oven door more than necessary), though it didn't ultimately prove necessary to do so.
- Sarah-Jane and Cathryn in series 3 became close enough that they actually went into business together after the series ended.
- Jane and Candice in series 7 had something of a rivalry between them, most notably when they both decided to make lime and coconut meringue pies for their signature bakes. Despite this they remain good friends and constantly cheer each other on. The "Where are the now" epilogue even revealed that they were going on a baking road trip together.
- Steven and Sophie in series 8 quickly identified each other as major rivals and nearly as quickly became friends.
- Fun with Subtitles: A lot of dialogue is subtitled in the professional spin-off Bake off: Creme de la Creme, on account of off-mic mumbling being practically the preferred method of communication. This is then subverted in the second series when one chef, who was convinced her team had done badly, finds out that they're actually only half a point behind the leaders, and expresses her delight in such robust fashion that she is subjected to a Sound-Effect Bleep:Chef: BLEEP! BLEEEEEEP! BLEEP!
- Funny Background Event: At one point during the Showstopper round for caramel week in series 8, Julia covers the back of a ladle with caramel. A few shots later, Paul can be seen inspecting the caramel-covered ladle while Julia is busy cooking in the foreground of the shot.
- In season 7's dessert week showstopper round, while Tom's "hipster picnic mini mousse cakes" are being judged, Jane wears a mustache on a stick decoration.
- Early in season 9, Sandi gives the contestants a time cue since Noel is strangely missing. He was AWOL for a good reason.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: The hosts — particularly Mel — spend a good chunk of their time motivating despondent or calming stressed-out bakers.Ruby: Mel? I need a talking to.
Mel: [to Frances] Right, just give me one second. [to Ruby] Get a grip, just get a grip, get a ruddy grip. [to Frances] I promised her I'd do that.
- Gingerbread House:
- Done as a Showstopper in series 3 — although it was specified that the building should not be the traditional cottage, leading to the aforementioned gingerbread barn, a birdhouse and a Roman coliseum.
- Returned in series 4, though "structure" wasn't specified, leading to, of all things, a gingerbread Dalek.
- The free-form version reappeared in series 5 (with highlights including a gingerbread dragon and pirate ship) and yet again in series 7 (in which a gingerbread pub, complete with sticky floor and lime jelly pool table cover, wins Candice Star Baker).
- Golden Snitch: Defied Trope — at least in theory. The format is such that a disaster in one task need not prove fatal if the other two are done well. Paul and Mary have admitted that the showstopper is generally all that separates the contestants, though contestants in the bottom half of the technical challenge automatically become candidates for elimination. Proven most notably in series 3; Ryan came last in the technical challenge, only for his key lime pie showstopper to prove so amazingly excellent that he was named Star Baker that week, ahead of bakers who had consistently delivered in all three rounds.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Mary and Paul, respectively (and very effectively) as a judging team. They only rarely disagree on the actual quality of a bake, but when critiquing it Paul comes across as much more brusque and insistent on the flaws, while Mary adopts a more sympathetic tone.
- Gratuitous French: If a bake deals with a specific nationality Mel and Sue won't just imitate the accent, they'll speak in the language of the country of origin when making announcements. French is just one of the many languages they've spoken... sort of... in the Bake Off Tent.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Iain from series 5 had one of these, eventually culminating in a moment where he angrily threw his Baked Alaska in the bin after discovering that Diana had inadvertently caused it to melt, which resulted in him being eliminated because he had absolutely nothing to show the judges.
- Hurricane of Puns: The hosts spend much of their time coming up with ways to pun on the theme of the episode.
- Inherently Funny Words: Mel and Sue have a lot of giggles about the names of two of Paul's technical challenges, flaounes (season 6) and kanellängd (2016 Christmas special).
- Ironic Echo Cut:
- During the Baked Alaska challenge in series 5:
- During the first episode of series 4:Mary Berry: [to the camera] I don't want to see just a classic Victoria sponge cake.
Contestant: Classic Victoria sponge cake. I think Mary Berry will be very pleased.
- During a vegetable cake challenge in one of the Comic Relief specials, a contestant remarks that in his opinion you'd have to be crazy to think a beetroot cake would be a good idea. Immediate cut to another contestant preparing a beetroot cake.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Paul insists his grumpy onscreen manner with the contestants is very much at odds with his off-camera one, and that in fact he frequently drops a private word of encouragement when they're stressed (usually by using the same swear-loudly-to-make-it-unfilmable tactic as Mel and Sue).
- Joke Character: Several participants in the celebrity editions have produced outright disasters worse than anything ever seen on the main show, although it is rare for anyone to completely fail in all three rounds (they will usually all manage to produce something passable in the showstopper, likely because they practised that one more); James Acaster from the second Stand Up to Cancer special may have come closest, having described his flapjacks as the result of "a breakdown" and only managing to produce one cream horn instead of six in the technical challenge.
- Lame Pun: If there's one to be made, Mel and Sue will make it. Contestants will either laugh or groan depending on how much pressure they're experiencing.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Series 5's pastry week, Martha mentions that she can almost hear the fast-paced music played on the Bake Off when there's only a short time left. Of course, said music is playing right at that moment.
- Martha even starts singing the track, so bonus points to the editor who matched up the track and her voice.
- Market-Based Title: In the United States, where it airs on PBS, and Canada, where it airs on CBC, it's known as The Great British Baking Show since Pillsbury owns the trademark to the term "Bake-Off" in most of North America in connection to its own Pillsbury Bake-Off competition (the domestic versions similarly follow suit). The Pillsbury Bake-Off was, for quite a while, actually aired as a television special although nowadays the winner announcement is shoehorned into one of the daytime lifestyle talk shows.
- In an odd subversion, one of the ABC promos for season 4 of the U.S. version contained the narration of it being "from the creators of The Great British Bake-Off".
- Multinational Shows: The series format has been franchised out to networks all over the world (full list available on The Other Wiki). Titles usually are that country's language equivalent of "(The Great) [Country] Bake Off (i.e. The Great South African Bake Off) or "All of [Country] Bakes" (i.e. Heel Holland Bakt - "All of Holland Bakes"). A major exception to this rule is in North America due to the issues mentioned above in Market-Based Title.
- There have been two U.S. incarnations: the first was The American Baking Competition, which ran for one season on CBS in 2013 as a summer series and promptly collided with Fox's MasterChef. Coincidentally, CBS had been the long-time home of the aforementioned Pillsbury Bake-Off. In 2015, the concept (though not the same team) channel hopped to ABC in a Christmas-themed miniseries, The Great Holiday Baking Show (re-named in reference to the Market-Based Title given to PBS airings of the British version), and subsequently returned the following year as The Great American Baking Show. It has since aired for four seasons (with the fourth returning to a Christmas-oriented theme as The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition), although the third was pulled partway into the season because of the Unpersoning of one of its judges due to a sexual harassment scandal.
- Similarly, CBC debuted The Great Canadian Baking Show in 2017 with Schitt's Creek star Daniel Levy and Saving Hope star Julia Chan as hosts.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": The infamous 'Bingate' disaster. Due to Diana accidentally leaving Ian's ice cream out of the freezer, it melted dramatically with only fifteen minutes left. The other contestants watched with concern as Iain tried to figure out what to do...and eventually just tossed it into the garbage and stormed off. Everyone, contestants and crew, were wide-eyed and distressed. It's one of the most dramatic moments in the series.
- Namesake Gag: Introducing a challenge involving frangipane tarts, Sue tells the contestants that the filling takes its name from 16th-century Italian nobleman Muzio Frangipanenote — and that the pastry case takes its name from 16th-century Italian nobleman Giovanni Shortcrust.
- Non-Gameplay Elimination: Diana in series 5 had to drop out between episodes due to illness. In the episode where this was announced, the judges considered waiving the usual end-of-episode elimination to keep the numbers right, but ended up deciding that one of the competitors had earned elimination. Instead, they waived the elimination in a later episode when Paul and Mary were unable to reach agreement about which of the two worst-performing competitors should be eliminated.
- Averted in the Dessert week of series 3 when John cut his finger badly near the beginning of the Showstopper round and had to leave the tent. The judges seriously considered him for elimination because of it (his previous two bakes not having been particularly impressive anyway) but ultimately decided it would be more fair to waive the elimination altogether that week and let two contestants go the next.
- A similar thing happened in series 9 (by coincidence, also in Dessert week) when Terry was unable to participate due to illness, and received a bye to the next week. The judges considered still having an elimination as usual that week, but the final decision ended up being quite close and they decided to send everyone through because of Terry's absence (warning that there was a "strong possibility" that there would be a double elimination the following week).
- Not So Stoic: Paul loves to play doubt-instilling mind games with the contestants, and will often pause meaningfully after receiving a contestant's reply to a specific question about their bake, or stand still at the end of their work bench and silently watch them carry out the challenge. In the series 6 finale, he tries to do this to Nadiya by asking her if she's happy. Nadiya responds that she is, and then asks Paul the same question back—to which he just bursts out giggling and walks off.
- One Steve Limit: Averted in series 6. One of the competitors is a man named Paul who has white hair and a Van Dyke goatee, remarkably like a certain judge named Paul. Immediately lampshaded by Sue, and led to this Running Gag each episode thereafter:Paul: Paul.
- Out-of-Character Alert: The contestants can act considerably different when the stress gets to them.
- Constantly chill Selasi often admits he's making it up as he goes along, plays with his ingredients and spends a lot of time joking with fellow competitors. In the series 7 semi-final he paces around frowning and actually admits he's worried.
- Engineer Andrew was famously exact in his baking, often drawing stencils and to-scale diagrams of his cakes, and even making an excel spreadsheet timetable for the series 7 finale. When he fills his Victoria Sandwich blind in the finale and mutters "screw measurements", it's clear that he's short on time.
- Precision F-Strike:
- Stacey has to be bleeped after she breaks her oven door.
- Creme de la Creme has more bleeped profanity than the normal series. When that show moved to Channel 4 (alongside the original) and was renamed to Bake Off: The Professionals, it appears that the show cannot last a single minute without hearing a censor bleep, But it features professional chefs, so what were you expecting?
- Product Placement: Defied Trope per BBC rules, which didn't stop the show getting in trouble for showing the logo of the fridges too prominently by mistake. A deal was reached whereby the editing would be fixed and the makers would stop advertising themselves "as seen on the Great British Bakeoff" on their website.
- Real Men Cook: Surprisingly — and endearingly — frequent. Most notably Series 6 contestant Paul Jagger, a former Coldstream Guardsman and currently a prison governor, who enjoys not only baking but flower arranging, and can make delicate animal carvings out of fruit. See also ex-RAF rugby enthusiast Simon in series 2, PE teacher Stuart in series 3, Norman the ex-Merchant Navy officer plus builders Iain and Richard in series 5, firefighter Mat in series 6, and motorbike enthusiast Selasi in series 7.
- Running Gag:
Paul: Ah, can the male judge please ask a question?
- Paul's obsession with "soggy bottoms" in any challenge involving pastry (which is quite a lot of them). He checks for it first chance he gets, and will call the contestants on it.
- Beginning in series 3, Mel and Sue's bizarre accents and intonations when declaring "On your marks, get set — bake!", frequently elongating the last word. By the end of series 4, the notion of the word being pronounced normally was a long-forgotten memory.
- Also beginning in series 3, the same duo's occasional insinuations while dismissing them for the technical challenge that Paul and Mary are leaving to carry on their steamy love affair... despite the fact that Mary is about thirty years Paul's senior.
- At one point mid-series 5, very Northern contestant Nancy refers dismissively to "him... you know, the male judge," in an aside to Mel. Naturally, both hosts pick this up and run with it, creating a mock-feud that lasts the rest of the series. Made even funnier when Paul himself starts playing along.
- Paul even took @malejudge on as his Twitter handle for a time!
- Candice wearing a different shade of lipstick every week in season 7, after Mel suggested it in the first episode.
- Starting in series 8, Noel's crazy shirts.
- Scenery Porn: Picturesque shots of the lovely manor gardens surrounding the Bake Off Tent are routinely used as transitional cutaways. As a bonus, most also involve adorable animals, including lambs, ducks, bees visiting flowers and — most memorably, in series 2 — squirrels.
- Science Hero: Paul has extensive knowledge of the science of baking and is always explaining the various chemical processes that occur during a bake. Mary is also incredibly knowledgeable but she doesn't go into quite as much detail as Paul, preferring to use more easy to understand expressions.
- Biochemist Yann in season 8 came up with a load of smart scientific ideas to improve her bakes, including creating pearls of mango with agar and injecting gelatin to make a poppy.
- Fairly often among contestants who know they're doing badly, but most famously by Ruby more-or-less endlessly in series 4. The hosts and judges had to tell her to stop doing it (with Mel actually snapping at her), a lesson that only briefly set in before returning a couple episodes later.
- Another famous one from series 9 is Rahul. Despite getting star baker multiple times, he shows very little confidence in his bakes and assumes that he's done something wrong whenever the judges are about to start praising it. During the final week other past contestants joked that, even if he did win, he probably wouldn't believe it.
- The hosts themselves often indulge in this, especially Sue, who frequently hangs a lampshade on how bad her puns are.
- Springtime for Hitler: In the celebrity edition, James Acaster was making waves out of meringue and decided to cover them in a salt as a joke, so they would "taste like the ocean". He was very surprised when Prue and Paul decided salted meringue was in fact delicious.
- Statuesque Stunner: Ruby, Kimberly and Frances, the 3 finalists of Series 4, all tower over the presenters.
- Stopped Reading Too Soon: One of the issues that led to Val's elimination in series 7 was that in the technical challenge for Pastry week—a Bakewell tart—she somehow missed an entire page of instructions. Undaunted, she simply made her own recipe, which of course differed in just about every possible respect from what the judges were looking for. The real kicker is that the page she missed was the first page of instructions... and it apparently didn't strike her as strange that the page she did read began at step five.
- Stunned Silence: In an episode of series 6, Mat's royal icing decorations turn out strangely yellow and brittle. When Nadiya asks what went wrong, he sheepishly replies that he baked them too long. note Nadiya just stares at him in shock for a long moment, while Flora clasps her hand over her mouth.
- Technician vs. Performer: Part of the format, since the signature bake allows for and the showstopper requires elaborate decoration according to the baker's own tastes, whereas the technical challenge is all about uniformity and strict accordance to the recipe. There are however specific examples from the series:
- Brendan (Technician) versus James (Performer) in series 3.
- Lucy in series 4 made very plain breadsticks ("Grissini with Salt") in the Signature round in the hope that the judges would be impressed with the technical qualities, whilst everybody else was trying much more elaborate recipes. She did this because she knew bread was a weak spot and so concentrated on getting it technically right, rather than being showy — unfortunately, she didn't get it right and, following a similar problem in the Showstopper round with a roasted tomato and garlic bread loaf, she was eliminated.
- And in the final of that series, Kimberley (Technician) vs Frances (Performer).
- Tempting Fate:
- At the start of the technical challenge in the second episode of series 7, Selasi mentions that he's made this recipe before, and acknowledges that saying so out loud may be tempting fate. He comes last in the challenge.
- Rav, in episode 5 of the same season, says that he can't come last in the technical for a third week in a row, immediately before doing so.
- Martha in the Series 4 quarterfinal says that a bad bake can eliminate anyone at this stage, since all of them are so good. Cue her having a couple bad bakes and getting eliminated.
- Too Qualified to Apply: The competition is supposed to be for amateur bakers. In Series 6, there were complaints about one contestant being a semiprofessional baker who had trained in patisserie in Paris. The BBC countered by saying the contestant in question had completed a one-week course in Paris over 10 years before entering the show, and had never worked professionally as a baker or chef.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Subverted in Series 9, where the collapse of Ruby's Vegan Week showstopper was featured in the trailer, suggesting it was a complete disaster. In fact, although it fell over, the judges praised the flavour and texture, so Ruby survived.
- Unwanted Assistance: Mel and Sue float among the contestants during the challenges, and appear to be allowed to offer limited physical support in addition to their morale-boosting chores. This usually results in leftovers or random bits of cut off food being eaten at the table, but at least once a genuine component of a bake that had merely been set aside for later use was eaten.
Nadiya: ...if I leave, you're coming with me.
- A particularly funny example happened in the final of series 4 with Mel, Sue, and Mary(!) scoffing as much of Frances' asparagus as they could while Frances was busy elsewhere in the tent.
- Poor Frances had already been 'helped' during the Biscuit week of that same series, when Mel tried to assist with keeping her towering showstopper balanced. To be fair, it's not clear whether it was technically Mel's fault or just coincidence... but she was the one holding a ruler up to the delicate tower when it collapsed in utter ruins.
- Meanwhile, in one technical challenge earlier in series 4, Sue leant on what she thought was just a bit of cloth on a contestant's bench—it was actually a bit of cloth with his English muffins underneath. When it came to the judging, she had to confess to Paul and Mary that it was her fault a couple of them were somewhat squashed.
- Happened again in series 6 when Sue accidentally squashed the top of Nadiya's biscuit box. Once again, she was very apologetic and admitted it when Paul and Mary asked what went wrong. Though it did lead to this gem from Nadiya to Sue:
- Hilariously, in series 5, Mel tries some of what she thinks is Nancy's flavoring, but ends up spritzing her mouth with cooking oil she was going to grease the baking pan with.
- Up to Eleven: A common way of testing competitors' knowledge in the technical challenges is for part of the recipe to be condensed to a single step (for instance, "make a chocolate ganache"), to see if the competitor is able to perform a standard cooking task from memory. In the series 7 finale this was taken to the logical extreme by doing it to the entire recipe.
- The series 7 finale Showstopper also did this. The finale showstopper is generally one big piece (such as a wedding cake) or, at the very most, several of the same type of thing, such as petit fours. The series 7 finale gave the bakers five hours to make one chocolate celebration cake, 12 mini quiche, 12 fruit and custard tarts, 12 savoury scones and 12 sausage rolls. That's a total of 49 things to produce, the most seen in the entire series so far.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Each series ends by revealing what all the contestants — including those eliminated as early as the first round — are doing. Generally this means becoming bakers (or otherwise working in some sort of baking-related area) for contestants eliminated later, and a bit more community baking for the less successful. There have also been a couple of proper standalone Where Are They Now shows.