When I think back about this whole season of The Great British Baking Show, I’m tempted to say it was pretty close to perfect. Sure, as a hardcore fan and professional critic, I can get persnickety about production choices and judges calls. However, when the dust settled on this season, it was really one of the best installments of the series ever. Once again, the “Bake Off Bubble” helped the bakers bond like never before. Paul Hollywood tampered down the Hollywood handshakes, rendering them more exciting. And this class of bakers was in a league of their own.
This season of The Great British Baking Show was almost perfect. There is a proverbial elephant in the room, er, tent: hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas. While both are super charismatic and talented comics, it’s clear that both hosts are dead bored by their gig on The Great British Baking Show. Even if the duo didn’t repeatedly mock the whole idea of working on the show, their incessantly childish hijinks, hyper activity around the bakers, and desperate need for attention proves it’s maybe not the best job for them. If Noel and Matt don’t want to host The Great British Baking Show, then they should go. And The Great British Baking Show should bring in fresh talent that can recapture the kind, considerate vibes of original co-hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.
When The Great British Baking Show first made its way stateside nearly ten years ago, it became an immediate cult hit thanks to its wild kindness and the chemistry of the hosts and judges assembled. Paul Hollywood was the snarky bad cop to Mary Berry’s queenly maternal figure and long-time besties Mel and Sue were as fond of giving bakers pep talks as they were giving chipper time callouts. When the show became a global phenomenon, though, Channel 4 poached the series from the BBC and Netflix secured the American streaming rights. Mary Berry, Mel, and Sue refused to follow the show to its new UK home and so Prue Leith was asked to replace Mary Berry. The hunt for new co-hosts has been a little bit less smooth, though.
Sandi Toksvig originally was cast opposite Noel Fielding and they were an incredibly odd “odd couple.” Noel Fielding was known for his sweet, absurd, goth sense of humor, while Toksvig had replaced friend Stephen Fry as host of the nerdy panel show Q.I. When Matt Lucas replaced Toksvig, it seemed that Noel had finally found a more natural partner. However the duo hasn’t really been in sync this season. Or, at least, they’re chemistry doesn’t hit the same high notes as Mel and Sue’s.
But the real issue with Noel and Matt is they don’t seem to want to be in the Bake Off tent. No, I’m serious. How else do you explain Noel’s constant digs at the gig? Or the fact that the two need to constantly be mugging for the camera? They’re bored. Plain and simple. Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas are two high-energy sketch comedy performers. They don’t see hosting The Great British Baking Show as a comedy job, but a babysitting gig. And neither really fancy being the responsible parties in the tent. Both Noel and Matt seem happiest when they are getting in the bakers’ ways and that’s alarming for everyone.
I like Noel Fielding and I like Matt Lucas, but I love The Great British Baking Show. If these two esteemed comic minds can’t figure out how to step back and let the bakers be the stars of The Great British Baking Show, it’s going to continue to be an issue in seasons to come. Matt and Noel’s obvious ambivalence to the gig is weighing the show down. Worse, it’s keeping Matt and Noel from other work they might like more.
I would be more skeptical of another Great British Baking Show host shake up if I didn’t know the British comedy scene wasn’t full of warm-hearted comics who might prefer the gig. Sarah Millican, Rose Matefeo, Romesh Ranganathan, Lolly Adefope, James Acaster, Joe Lycett, and Cariad Lloyd are all rising comedy stars and panel show regulars who could easily slide in to the gig. Those are just some names off the top of my head!
Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas clearly aren’t all that psyched about hosting The Great British Baking Show. So why are they still doing it? The Great British Baking Show should get rid of Noel and Matt and slide in someone who is happy to be there and even happier to let the bakers take the spotlight.
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