Great British Bake Off to ‘ban older contestants’ in huge programme shake-up

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The Channel 4 show has been airing since 2010 and viewers flock in their millions to back their favourite amateur bakers. The show has always had a mixture of older and younger characters in every series, with some of the programme’s most iconic contestants being slightly more senior. But it’s now been speculated older hopefuls – who are an integral part of the show’s fanbase – won’t be able to appear on this year’s programme due to fears over their health.

The show – which began back on BBC Two in 2010 – blossomed into a summer staple and is due to return for series 11 later this year.

There have been 10 winners of the crown so far, with David Atherton becoming the most recent champion of GBBO. 

Now, Bake Off viewers are desperate to learn when the show, which is famed for its innuendos and soggy bottoms, will be back once more. 

However, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the way TV shows are produced, the show is just one of a number which will undoubtedly a format change. 

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With the exact details of this year’s series still under wraps, it’s now been reported the show may be facing a “ban” on older contestants taking part this year. 

A source told The Sun it has “been deemed too high risk” to have those of older age on the programme. 

The insider said: “There’s a real sense of urgency to get the next series of Bake Off in the can, considering it’s one of Channel 4’s biggest draws.

“That means the nation’s baking grans and grandads have been deemed too high risk. Bake Off’s wizened contestants are often the heart of the show.”

When the coronavirus outbreak forced the country to go into lockdown, members of the public who were over 70-years-old were told to shield from the outside. 

Despite the UK Government’s guidelines being slightly relaxed in recent weeks, there are still concerns over those in the older age bracket, who remain more at risk of getting the virus. 

It would be a huge blow to the programme due to some of more senior contestants becoming the most-popular within their seasons over the years.

Speaking about some of the past favourites, the insider continued: “Val [Stones], who would ‘listen’ to cakes to work out if they were done, and rapping septuagenarian Flo [Atkins] became favourites.

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“WI member Diane Beard was responsible for the show’s most iconic moment: Baked Alaska-gate. It’s a shame characters are rejected on account of age.”

Long-term viewers will remember Diane became involved in the infamous Baked Alaska-gate after fellow contestant Iain Watters dessert went disastrously wrong.

In unmissable scenes, he served his Baked Alaska in a bin to Paul Hollywood and previous judge, Mary Berry, who left the show after it moved away from the BBC. 

It comes just days after it was reported the show was having issues due to judge Prue Leith being in the vulnerable category amid the virus outbreak.

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Prue, 80, joined the programme upon its move to Channel 4 back in 2016 and quickly became a firm favourite amongst viewers for her honest critique and eye-catching wardrobe. 

However, due to her age, it was alleged the programme was unable to get insurance for the star with the current situation in mind. 

The show is reluctant to leave Prue out and bosses have been trying to work out how she can still be part of this year’s programme. 

In terms of the programme’s location, it was originally reported Bake Off had booked out an entire Centre Parcs to film proceedings but talks later broke down.

However, it is believed the broadcaster has now found a new top-secret venue where they will be able to film the series. 

Express Online has contacted a Great British Bake Off representative for comment.

Great British Bake Off is due to return later this year to Channel 4. 

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