To the delight of fans everywhere, The Great British Bake Off is finally back!
The Channel 4 baking competition will be returning for its 12th season tonight (21 September), with another 12 hopefuls entering the tent in a bid to be crowned this year’s Bake Off winner.
Among this year’s contestants are a software developer from Kent, a retired nurse and midwife, and a Met Police detective. You can find the full 2021 line-up here.
Before this year’s season gets underway, however, let’s take a look at the show’s previous champions and where they are today.
Apparently today marks the day I won the first series of @BritishBakeOff exactly 10 years ago. It’s been a wild ride, it helped me find my path, gave me a push to follow my dream and I wouldn’t change a moment of it (okay maybe I’d change my horrendous fashion choices) pic.twitter.com/lVob5cfmOj
— Edd Kimber (@TheBoyWhoBakes) September 21, 2020
Edd Kimber, 2010
Long-time fans of Bake Off will remember Kimber fondly when he was one of just 10 contestants competing for the crown. Since then, Kimber has gone on to work in the pastry kitchen of Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir restaurant. He’s also published multiple cookbooks and continues to publish recipes on his online blog, “The Boy Who Bakes”.
Joanne Wheatley, 2011
After beating out Holly Bell and Mary-Anne Boermans in the final, Wheatley published two cookbooks and penned a column for Sainsbury’s Magazine. The baker from Essex appeared as a guest on talk shows including The One Show. She also became a founder of her own home cooking school called Jo’s Blue AGA.
John Whaite, 2012
Following his big win, Whaite studied at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school to earn his patisserie diploma. He then launched a cooking school and published numerous books. In 2018, he announced that he would be pursuing a career in law and was planning to become a barrister. Before then, however, viewers will see Whaite compete on this year’s season of Strictly Come Dancing where he stars as one half of the competition’s first male same-sex partnership.
Frances Quinn, 2013
Quinn entered the series as a children’s clothes designer and left as a baking champion. The 39-year-old went on to publish a bestselling cookbook titled Quintessential Baking. Game show fans will also recognise Quinn from an appearance on Celebrity Pointless. What’s been her biggest achievement, though? Perhaps setting the world record for largest Jaffa Cake in 2017.
Nancy Birtwhistle, 2014
The former GP practice manager became the oldest Bake Off winner to date when she won the fifth series. The Hull-born baker has released a number of books, including Sizzle & Drizzle: Tips fora Modern Day Home-Maker in 2019 and Clean & Green: 101 Hints and Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Home, which was published earlier this year.
Nadiya Hussain, 2015
Even casual viewers of Bake Off will recognise Hussain, the star baker who has since become a familiar face on TV after taking home the big prize in 2015. The 36-year-old now presentsThe Chronicles of Nadiya and Nadiya’s British Food Aventure on BBC. She has also published several successful cookbooks and was chosen to bake the Queen’s 90th birthday cake in 2016. Last year, Hussain was awarded an MBE for her services to broadcasting and to the culinary arts.
Candice Brown, 2016
After winning the show’s seventh series, Brown quit her job as a PE teacher in order to pursue a career in baking. Since then Brown has appeared on This Morning and took part in the tenth series of Dancing on Ice in 2018. The following year, she appeared in The Great New Year’s Bake Off and also won Celebrity Mastermind having chosen Audrey Hepburn as her specialist subject.
Sophie Faldo, 2017
The former British Army officer and stuntwoman became the first winner of Bake Off after it moved to Channel 4. Fans of the series will remember that 12 hours before the final episode aired, Prue Leith accidentally tweeted the results. Faldo has since launched a luxury cakes business called Sophie Faldo Couture Cakes.
Rahul Mandal, 2018
After being crowned the winner, Mandal – who became known as “the most relatable baker of all time” – returned to his job as a professor at the University of Sheffield. Evidently still a fan of the competition, Mandal recently tweeted his excitement about the 2021 line-up, revealing that he has been “waiting for this for so long”.
David Atherton, 2019
Atherton had initially been a reserve on the series, meaning he was only called up to the tent at the last minute. The baker seized the opportunity, however, and went on to win the whole thing. Since his victory, Atherton published his first cookbook, aptly titled My First Cookbook.
Peter Sawkins, 2020
This brings us to our current reigning champion: Peter Sawkins, who became the show’s youngest ever winner last year. The 20-year-old finance student from Edinburgh and long-time Bake Off fan (he had been tuning into the series since he was 12) returned to university to finish his degree. His first recipe book, titled Peter Bakes, is due for release in October.
The Great British Bake Off begins at Tuesday 21 September at 8pm on Channel 4