‘The Great British Bake Off’ preview: Our thoughts on 2016’s contestants

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The Great British Bake Off returns this week with twelve new hopeful contestants, which in theory takes us all the way to mid November (as long as nobody gets upset with their icing and chucks it in the bin).

In previous years, the show has been pretty good at hiding the winner in plain sight while tricking you into thinking that some early departures have more staying power. That all went up in smoke in 2015, since it was clear that everybody – the camera crew, Paul and Mary, even all the other contestants – adored Nadiya Hussain, always a clear winner.

The Great British Bake Off 2016 Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry

Pleasingly, this year, it’s going to be a trifle more difficult to bet on the winner. There are a fair few steely-eyed straight A students, and a startling number of economists in the mix.

Let’s meet this year’s contestants, and we’ll even take the risk of declaring who we think might be in the final three…


Selasi Gbormittah

Selasi The Great British Bake Off 2016

30 years old, living in London with his girlfriend. He works in the financial sector, which may not immediately endear him to the BBC audiences. He was baking fairy cakes back when he was studying economics at university. He’s a keen fundraiser. Follow Selasi via @selasigb


Val Stones

Val The Great British Bake Off 2016

A former primary school teacher, Val has been baking for over fifty years. She hunts down the internet looking for new recipes, but otherwise claims to be pretty traditional (so traditional, in fact, that we don’t have a Twitter handle for you to follow her on).


Rav Bansal

Rav The Great British Bake Off 2016

Rav is living at home with his parents, and credits his sister with the inspiration to start baking. He studied criminology at university (cue lots of Cluedo style gags from Mel and Sue: ‘It was Rav! In the kitchen! With the spatula!’). He certainly seems to be the early contender to receive Paul’s icy stare with his determination for ‘flavour combinations’, and he is (perhaps surprisingly) the first vegan baker to appear on the show.


Jane Beedle

Jane The Great British Bake Off 2016

Jane seems cookie-cutter-made for surviving GBBO until at least the semi-finals: her other passion is designing gardens (can we expect a three-tier Hanging Gardens Of Babylon?), and her love of baking goes back to her father and grandfather. She’s not confident making macaroons or ciabatta, so let’s face it: that’s going to be a challenge in week seven. Follow Jane via @Janebbakes


Benjamina Ebuehi

Benjamina The Great British Bake Off 2016

Benjamina is a teaching assistant with a first in economics.  She also got top grades all through her time at school, which suggests that she may be something of a perfectionist: which may not be served well in the heat of the kitchen as Sue Perkins cheerfully yells ‘five minutes left!’ However, we think she has enough staying power to prove herself in the final episode. Prove? Anyone? Oh, we’re wasted here. Follow Benjamina via @bakedbybenji


Tom Gillford

Tom The Great British Bake Off 2016

Tom works as a project engagement manager for the Royal Society of Arts, specialising in creative learning and development, which is usually the job description of somebody who’s going to get kicked out by week three, particularly as he has an Apprentice style motto: ‘Have your cake and eat it’. However, he does have an inspiring back story: he successfully shed 30 kilos. Follow Tom via @Tom_gilliford


Louise Williams

The Great British Bake Off 2016

Louise is a hairdresser living in Cardiff (which means she should be used to seeing a BBC production crew on her way to work). She started out making cakes for the charity bake sale, and also completes mountain walks, including a four-day trek around the Andes. Follow Louise via @LouBaraDa


Michael Georgiou

Michael The Great British Bake Off 2016

Michael is studying economics (lots of economic students this year!). Michael is also another GBBO hopeful who’s fond of mixing and matching surprising flavours. He’s the youngest baker in the tent. Follow Michael via @michaelgeo96


Kate Barmby

Kate The Great British Bake Off 2016

Kate is a farmer’s daughter and a qualified nurse from Norfolk. Her cooking includes using seasonal produce from the farm, so hopefully she’ll get a mention of support on The Archers. Based on no evidence whatsoever, she’s one of the three contestants that we’ll tentatively suggest could be in the final episode.


Candice Brown

Candice The Great British Bake Off 2016

Whatever else happens, Candice seems Most Likely To Write Her Own Cook Book, armed as she is with a North London vibe, a photo-friendly pug and a love of anything vintage and a refined taste in heels. Candice is the one that we suspect will do magnificently well for ten weeks, and then get unfairly booted off just because her gingerbread doesn’t snap properly. Follow Candice via @CJ_Brownie


Lee Banfield

The Great British Bake Off 2016 Lee

There an unwritten rule that any series of Bake Off has to have a gruff builder type who is also great with scones. Although to be fair, in the mid 80s Lee swapped hods for God as he studied theology. Although we haven’t included Lee in our top three, we’re confident that he’ll still be in the tent by the time Halloween rolls around.


Andrew Smyth

Andrew The Great British Bake Off 2016

Andrew, we dare to suggest, is another early strong contender for the champion (and not just because he shares a name with this writer). He’s an aerospace engineer for Rolls-Royce, and it’s easy to imagine him applying a scientific eye to the construction of a pavlova. Follow Andrew via @cakesmyth


Who do you think will win? Let us know below…