It’s back. The tent swathed in golden sunshine, a chocolate meltdown as a result of aforementioned sun, one contestant’s broken biscuit dreams and the ice-cold glare of Paul Hollywood.
The Great British Bake Off has returned in all its glory for a ninth series – the second since decamping to Channel 4.
We’ve now become used to the adverts, Prue’s slightly more acerbic approach to judging compared to Mary Berry’s glowing positivity, and the new power presenting dynamic of Sandi and Noel.
An audience of 6.1 million people tuned in to see Tuesday’s first episode kick off with biscuit – rather than cake – week.
Given the familiar and unchanged nature of the show, this was obviously a major upset in the cosy Bake Off circles.
“A triumphant return for TV’s own form of comfort food,” declared Emine Saner in The Guardian, adding that the new set of 12 bakers “seem an intriguing bunch, but could be more representative”.
Writing in The Times, James Jackson said “Bake Off is streets ahead of all other talent shows”.
“The world may be careering out of control, but the warm smell of baking has returned to our living rooms and everything is just fine.”
“After a fallow summer’s viewing, boy, it feels good to have it back,” wrote Michael Hogan in The Daily Telegraph.
“From the infectious giggles to the contestant camaraderie, from the workbench mishaps to the mouthwatering creations – the Great British Bake Off’s return is always a welcome sign that autumn TV schedules are upon us.”
The TV Times’ Emma Bullimore told BBC Radio 5Live: “At the screening, everyone just felt ‘ah lovely telly, the worlds a better place when Bake Off’s on.’ It’s just feel good vibes the whole way through.”
The showstopper challenge, with contestants having to construct a selfie-portrait out of biscuits came in for the most criticism, however.
The Guardian’s Saner called it “unusually difficult for a first episode”, while Sean O’Grady, writing in The Independent described the idea as “half-baked”.
“A sense of futility pervaded the proceedings like the scent of cinnamon that must have filled the air in the GBBO tent,” O’Grady added.
However, Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail thought creating a selfie was a clever device suitable for the first episode: “[It] might sound an abominably trendy gimmick, but cleverly it did force viewers to think about the contestant’s faces – which helped us get to know them much more quickly.”
Both The Telegraph and The Times also picked up on the distinctive lack of sexual innuendo, compared with the many that used to be provided by the show’s previous hosts Mel and Sue.
The Daily Mail declared, however, that “Bake Off’s much better without the smut.”
The episode’s most outrageous moment – sparking much hilarity on social media – came in the form of Dan’s biscuit selfie. His rendering of himself holding his baby in a bright pink blanket was ripe for the series’ first real innuendo moment.
“What are you holding?” fellow contestant Kim-Joy asks him. “A baby!” says the stay-at-home dad. “Oh, I thought it was something else…” comes the response with an amused smile.
At least Paul Hollywood was generous enough to say: “It looks like a massive prawn.”