A pastor, a PE teacher and a Rolls-Royce aerospace engineer are among the 12 hopefuls competing to win the 2016 series of The Great British Bake Off.
The amateur bakers, competing to follow in the footsteps of last year’s champion Nadiya Hussain, will again seek the approval of judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
However the seventh series could be the last on the BBC. Its three-year deal with producers Love Productions expires at the end of this run and ITV is bidding to poach the format.
Ms Berry, 81, hinted at tensions behind the scenes between the new batch of contestants donning their aprons. She said: “They know the standard that it is, which is now pretty high. And I think they were slower to bond this year than they were in the past.”
The bakers include Andrew, 25, originally from Northern Ireland, he now lives in Derby and works as an aerospace engineer for Rolls-Royce. A Cambridge University graduate, Andrew has set his heart on designing a baguette concorde.
The oldest contestant in this year’s lineup will be Lee, a 67-year-old who has worked in various pastoral ministries for the past 30 years – most recently as the pastor of his local church in Bolton. A former builder, he had a complete change of direction in the mid 1980s, when he turned to theology and took up baking.
The youngest baker is Michael, a 20-year-old from London who is studying politics and economics in Durham. He enjoys making “big grand cakes” and making Greek pastries inspired by his Cypriot heritage.
Teaching Assistant, Benjamina, 23, who started baking aged 14 just for fun, recently graduated with a 1st in Economics & lives in south London.
The contestants also include 66-year-old former primary school head teacher Val, and 31-year-old secondary school PE teacher Candice. Mother of two Kate, 37, is a farmer’s daughter from Norfolk, is a qualified nurse and works on an acute respiratory ward. Candice, 31, from Bedfordshire, was taught to bake by her beloved Nan, and strives to emulate her bakes aiming to be “even half the lady she was.”
Hollywood said Nadiya’s success – she is judging a junior version of the series and is presenting a documentary on her culinary inspirations – had raised the bar for this year’s batch.
“Nadiya went to a whole new level, and because of that I think it put the pressure on them more, and I think we felt that in the tents as well,” the judge said. “But actually they came out tops.
They started quite nervously but once they settled down they got into it. Then the baking started to flow and the standard got really really good.”
The Great British Bake Off launches on August 24 on BBC One at 8pm.