GBBO was first broadcast in 1946; the first winner was the Duke of Rutland’s pastry chef Maurice Dufour; and in the late 1960s Mary Berry was once replaced by Marianne Faithfull.
You know when late summer has arrived because conkers are starting to form on the horse chestnuts, your eagerness to get the kids back to school has reached fever pitch, and another season of The Great British Bake Off (BBC1, Wednesdays) has begun.
If it feels like there has never, ever been a time when GBBO wasn’t on, this is because there hasn’t. Here are some key facts about our favourite telly comfort blanket you won’t find on Wikipedia.
1. Mary Berry has barely aged at all since the show’s first edition was broadcast in 1946 immediately after Muffin the Mule. Mary was 11 at the time and was chosen for her cut-glass vowels, her English rose complexion and her sweet nature, designed to counterpoint the earthy manner of her rough-diamond co-presenter Stanley Holloway.
2. Each series only lasted two episodes in those days because the amount of edible stuff you can make on rationed sugar and powdered egg is very limited.
3. It was known, snappily, as ‘Competitive Bakers’ and Patissiers’ Half Hour’. Holloway presented in black tie while young Mary wore a taffeta ball gown and a tiara.
4. Where today the programme seeks to recruit candidates from as broad a range of classes, age groups and ethnic backgrounds as possible, competitors in the first series came from a much narrower field. The first series was won by the Duke of Rutland’s pastry chef, Maurice Dufour.
Read the rest at the Spectator.