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If You Like GBBO: Other Bake Off Series And Show Recommendations

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When I discovered The Great British Bake Off, two of the things I loved the most were the contestants' obvious love of what they do (on other competitive reality shows, that is often overshadowed by the contestants' competitiveness) and the camaraderie among the contestants (as opposed to the usual "I'm not here to make friends" crap we see on a lot of other shows). It seems so rare to find that kind of show, so I was pleased to find that there are other shows with the same attitude. I thought this would be a good place to share/recommend similar shows. I have included links to the shows with forums here at PTV.

First there are the various Bake Off iterations:

The show has also been licensed in Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Ukraine.

Next are some British spinoffs of non-baking shows:

  • The Great British Sewing Bee (7 seasons, 2013-2016, 2019-2021) - Like Project Runway without all the drama & bitchiness. Bonus: the judges actually care about things like the hems being even, to the point where one of them will get out a ruler. They also explain the technical aspects of what they are asking the sewers to do and often show the patterns being used.
  • The Big Allotment Challenge (2 seasons, 2014-2015) - This is the gardening verson of the GBBO. Each contestant is given a garden and a greenhouse and 4 months to grow a list of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. In each episode, the contestants have three challenges: grow (a specific vegetable is judged), make (a certain flower from the garden is presented and then the gardeners must create a floral arrangement), and eat (the contestants must make something using what they grew in their gardens).
  • The Great Pottery Throw Down (4 seasons, 2015-2017, 2020-2021) - This is the pottery version of the GBBO. Each week the contestants are given three challenges: the main challenge (a large/complicated piece that takes multiple days/steps/firings), the spot challenge (a technical challenge), and the throw down (a short timed challenge). Bonus: the winner is declared Top Potter!

Non-British non-baking shows:

  • Den Store Strikkedyst aka The Great Knit Off (3 seasons, 2014-2016) - This is a Danish knitting competition with a similar format as the GBBO series (three challenges per episode, one person is awarded knitter of the week). TV SYD has all of the episodes available on their official YouTube channel, but only two episodes have English subtitles.

And finally non Great British series where the contestants and judges generally have a similar attitude as the GBBO series:

  • Face Off (13 seasons, 2011-2018) - Makeup artists create monsters, aliens, and other creatures.
  • Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge (1 season, 2014) - Similar to Face Off, but the focus is on constructing camera ready creatures.
  • Skin Wars (3 seasons, 2014-2016) - Similar to Face Off but with body paint. To be honest, there was a lot less camaraderie on this show but I included it on the list because the artists obviously love what they do.
  • Back in Time (6 seasons, 2015-2018 plus specials) - Back in Time features a modern day family who agrees to try the recipes and activities from history.
  • Blown Away (2 seasons, 2019, 2021) - Blown Away is a glass blowing competition show that originally aired in Canada and is now available on Netflix.
  • The Big Flower Fight (1 season, 2020) - Teams of two build huge sculptures made of flowers, grass, fruits, vegetables, and other plants.
  • Full Bloom (1 season, 2020) - Individual contestants make floral arrangements both large and small.
  • Landscape Artist of the Year (5 seasons, 2015-2019) - Each week, artists paint landscapes.
  • Portrait Artist of the Year (7 seasons, 2013-2014, 2017-2020) - Each week, nine artists create portraits of three celebrities.

Any other similar shows you recommend? I am currently watching The Big Allotment Challenge to tide me over until The Great British Sewing Bee begins!

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo · Reason: Updated number of seasons for shows that aired in 2020
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I completely agree about Face Off. When a friend first described it, I thought she liked it just because she's into sci-fi and fantasy. But really, they do some amazing things and about 90% of the time, the contestants are helpful to each other.

 

The children on MasterChef: Jr are supportive of each other and cute. The show is a bit contrived in spots, but it's mostly fun and the kids are worth watching.

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On the International Bake Off shows: I've seen them all and liked them all. The American one did have a fun host, but I prefer UK or international food shows more. I highly encourage watching the Australian, Irish, and French ones. The French one is mad. The amateurs are by far the best of all the competitions especially in pastry and chocolate work. Many of the French finalists could easily win the other competitions.

 

In general, international or non-US versions of food competition shows have less drama. They are more geared to actual talent and there is less melodramatics. For example, the Masterchef franchise:

 

  • Masterchef (UK) - The original as with GBBO. It has had four series: regular (amateur), celebrity, junior, and professional (one of the best food competitions).
  • Masterchef (AU) -  Aussie version. Interesting challenges, sometimes has a wee bit drama, but still a good show

 

The only American food competition show I watch these days is Masterchef Junior.

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Each of the Bake Off shows has its pros and cons. For example, I love that in the Irish version, the bakers are given full instructions for the technical bake instead of the partial instructions given on the American, British, and Australian versions. I can kind of see the point the show is trying to make with the partial instructions to test the bakers' instincts and knowledge, but it just seems silly to ding people for not having properly baked items when they were not told what temperature the oven should be or how long to bake something. But on the cons, I hate that the Irish version only does two of the three challenges per week. It's called editing, people! If the other versions of the show can do a signature, a technical, and a showstopper all in one episode, so can the Irish version!

 

I really loved the Australian version too. It was just so endearing. The American version is my least favorite followed by the British version. The main common factor between the two is Paul Hollywood, who I admit I don't love, but I'm not sure exactly why I prefer the Irish and Australian versions so much more.

 

One thing I really love about Face Off is how willing the contestants are to help each other. I can't tell you how many times I have seen them drop everything and run over to help someone get their mold cracked open, even when there are people who don't particularly like each other. It's not about being nice. For them, it's common courtesy to a fellow artist. They all know that shit happens and when it does, you can't always do these things by yourself. They have all been there before which is why they don't hesitate to help when it happens to someone else.

 

There is major camaraderie on The Big Allotment Challenge, and I think that's due in large part to the prep time. Because the contestants are gardening for 3-4 months before the competition actually begins, they all get to know each other so when the first person is eliminated, it's not like on other shows where they have known each other for two hours. I really like that although they are given a list of things to grow, they are allowed to choose the specific varieties so we still get to see some variety. But I also appreciate that, unlike other cooking shows, the contestants are allowed to make the same thing. One week in S1, during the eat challenge there were contestants who both made strawberry rhubarb jam. On other shows, one of them would have been told by the producers to make something else so that the audience would see different dishes, but I really like that they let everyone make whatever they want.

 

Athena, the difference between MasterChef UK and the American version is really noticeable. They really play up the drama and trash talking on the American version, which I hate (I also hate how at least 1/4 of a 40 minute show seems redundant because they keep replying the same clips and having dramatic pauses). The UK version is much more focused on the actual cooking and seems less fake.

 

The hilarious thing is that of all these shows, I have none of the skills shown. I can't sew no matter how many times my mom tries to teach me, I have killed every plant I've ever owned, and my husband is by far a better cook than I am, yet i love these shows.

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Each of the Bake Off shows has its pros and cons. For example, I love that in the Irish version, the bakers are given full instructions for the technical bake instead of the partial instructions given on the American, British, and Australian versions. I can kind of see the point the show is trying to make with the partial instructions to test the bakers' instincts and knowledge, but it just seems silly to ding people for not having properly baked items when they were not told what temperature the oven should be or how long to bake something...

 

Athena, the difference between MasterChef UK and the American version is really noticeable. They really play up the drama and trash talking on the American version, which I hate (I also hate how at least 1/4 of a 40 minute show seems redundant because they keep replying the same clips and having dramatic pauses). The UK version is much more focused on the actual cooking and seems less fake.

 

I like the technical because it's actually often the most dramatic of the bakes. It's usually the most tense because the contestants sometimes haven't even seen or heard of the item. It's actually a bit hilarious. As for Paul Hollywood, I really enjoy Paul as a baker and watch his other shows/read his books. He balances Mary really well. Then again, it's Mary Berry. She's awesome.

 

Yeah, the contrast between MC US and MC UK is stark. MC US took the set layout and similar cues from MC AU, but it amps up the drama. Sadly, MC CA is a clone of MC US in that way, but more boring because we're Canadian. Hee.

 

I think what I like about the UK shows is that they often actually teach something even though I may never actually do the recipe or use the skill. In one season of GBBO, I'll probably only try to make one or two of the technicals. I am very glad they have the Masterclasses. on MC UK, the chef judges actually make a lot of the stuff to show you how it should or could be done before the contestants do it. As a result, it's a food competition show and you learn something too. I find the American version is a lot more talking points.

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I'll add my thumbs up to the UK Masterchef series. BBC America showed a bunch of episodes a year or two ago but then just kept repeating them rather than showing another season.

One thing I like about the various UK series is seeing another country's traditions in baking and cooking - different ingredients, dishes, etc. I found it hard to get excited about some of the challenges in the American Baking Challenge since the dishes seemed so mundane.

Have not heard of the French show before. I'll look for it online.

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OMG, the Sewing Bee!  Claudia, be my spirit animal!

 

I don't sew, but it is completely wonderful. A nightmare to find all the episodes tho.

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I adore Claudia Winkleman, so I actually caught the Great British Sewing Bee before I discovered Bake Off.  It's decidedly in the same style as Bake Off--not about fashion (a la Project Runway), just incredibly well-done everyday clothing.

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This evening there is a new kids baking show. That Duff fellow is one of the judges. Unfortunately the description states that midway through the challenge the kids are told they need to make a third item with this and that. So manufactured drama. I'll skip it b

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Understandably, there isn't a thread for The Great Australian Bake Off so I thought I'd post this information here. Wikipedia reports a second season is being developed and airing sometime in 2015 with new hosts and judges. The new hosts are two female comedians.

Edited by RealityCheck

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I'm not in Australia, but was something wrong with the hosts & judges for season 1? It's seems strange that they would replace everyone.

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I didn't know about the Australian version. Off to watch season 1. Thank you.

 

Edit: At the beginning of the first episode, while introducing the judges, it is mentioned that they both returned from Britain (I think) to judge the competition. It may be that they were not available to return, or there was someone cheaper who was already in Australia, and they only needed the big guns to get it off and running.

Edited by Christina

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I really enjoyed the Aussie Bake Off, but I heard it wasn't an audience success. They went for two australian judges (a british based baker and an oklahoma-based  sugar crafter) who had became famous internationally, but from what I read had little profile in Australia.

 

Personally I think Mary is part of the magic - she seems to be so revered by the amateur bakers. She adores Paul, which undercuts his bad boy persona and makes him a figure of fun.

 

The french version works well too, mainly because Mercotte is a no nonsense cross between Martha and Mary, and Cyril, a pastry chef  with a michelin star, is sexy and kind. I am *stunned* by the abilities of the french home bakers. It is on another level, even when i don't understand all that's being said. 

 

My favorite is the Irish - it has a lot of the elements of the British show - very similar judge dynamic, friendly contestants, no drama edits, BUT the host avoids the creaking jokes and unfunny puns of Mel and Sue. C'mon PBS - you could give us a 2 year back catalog  of English speaking baking shows.

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Once the dates are announced, we could request a forum for GABO. I watched the first season. I didn't mind it. One of the judges for S1 was Dan Lepard who is British based but who has a fair knowledge of baking and is a regular contributor to The Guardian. Many notable Australian chefs and cooks get more famous abroad such as Curtis Stone and move away. I think Maggie Beer is a great choice for S2 though. I've seen her on MasterChef Australia and those contestants revere her. She's very much like Mary who really is magic.
 
I love the French version. Absolutely amazing to watch amateurs.
 
@shandy I agree with most of your post except that I and a few others I know really do enjoy Mel and Sue as hosts including the contestants. I know their humor is not the same as it would be for other reality show hosts, but something about it works for me. I think they bring a levity to the show.

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Mel has a sweetness about her, and I love her baggy pants and easy nature with the contestants, although those goofy accents sheesh. Sue I'm afraid I don't enjoy - I'm probably not sophisticated enough for puns flying like tennis balls!  

 

I am  confused by the use of Doctor Who incidental music in the French version - 'I am the Doctor' blaring out over entremets is a head trip. 

 

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I can't find the French version, but did find the Irish one. It does seem like something PBS would be interested in buying the broadcasting(?) rights to, and when I win the lottery, I SHALL make it happen! Until then, I'll just watch what I can find in my little non-lottery winning world. I never would have thought to look for another country if it wasn't for you great people, so thank you again.

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Great British Menu. I loved it. Amazing Scottish accents. Venison. Whisky sauce. So interesting and it goes on every day for WEEKS!

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Great British Menu. I loved it. Amazing Scottish accents. Venison. Whisky sauce. So interesting and it goes on every day for WEEKS!

 

I love Great British Menu. I almost requested the forum, but I honestly didn't think anyone else watched it here.

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I just checked out the Great British Menu. Season 10 just started and it has only aired 5 episodes, which is 1 week. If you like GBBO, I think you will like Great British Menu. The people don't trash talk, and you actually learn about about why they are cooking the way the are. For instance, one contestant was boiling hand towels and explained how she was going to use them for her dumplings. I found it very enjoyable. Another show PBS should pick up.

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I just checked out the Great British Menu. Season 10 just started and it has only aired 5 episodes, which is 1 week. If you like GBBO, I think you will like Great British Menu. The people don't trash talk, and you actually learn about about why they are cooking the way the are. For instance, one contestant was boiling hand towels and explained how she was going to use them for her dumplings. I found it very enjoyable. Another show PBS should pick up.

 

 

Great British Menu. I loved it. Amazing Scottish accents. Venison. Whisky sauce. So interesting and it goes on every day for WEEKS!

 

It really is a great show. I doubt it'll be picked up over here. It amounts to about 40ish episodes per season. With the exception of Iron Chef, professional competition shows don't seem to do nearly as well in North America as they do in the UK or Europe.

 

If you both are very interested, I'll request a forum which probably will just be the three of us talking the next two months about the show. Let me know.

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I

 

If you both are very interested, I'll request a forum which probably will just be the three of us talking the next two months about the show. Let me know.

I'm also watching so that's one more person.

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Awesome news - The Great Australian Bake Off and The Great Irish Bake Off are both returning soon! The Australian show is scheduled to begin in October and the Irish show is scheduled for the vague "autumn" (although some articles say it may start as soon as October too)! The American version is also making a comeback but with Mary Berry instead of Paul Hollywood (link in media thread).

 

This article has clips of Bake Off shows in Brazil, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Ukraine, and America (the length of the videos ranges from a 30-40 second promos for the Australian and Irish shows to a full episode of the French show, but most are 8-15 minute segments).

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She certainly does love the word "absolute" or "absolutely." Never use it as the basis for a drinking game if you value your liver.

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I *might* be a little bit addicted to Le Meilleur Patissier, and it's also become a gateway drug to buying cream puffs!  I've never known anyone to make homemade macarons in France before... they're so hard to make and so easy to buy there!  I love Cyril (I've liked a lot of his shows; he had one a few years ago where he was trying to reform school lunches and he was super charismatic).  I like his judging style and how excited he gets when the food is good.  The French judging is hard core, and I'm not sure I like the "carte blanche" elimination at the end.  And, does Mercotte drive anyone else a little bit crazy?  She reminds me of a French school marm, kind of delighting a little too much in criticism.  Maybe it's because their critique sessions on the show are so much like critiques at school in France.  I also think her technical challenges are reaching, and she gets super caught up in the look, even though no one baking could possibly know what those 18th century tarts should look like.  For me it's a little OTT to take away electrical gadgets during the technical bake because the recipe came from the 18th century.  Cyril is so much less hypercritical, even though he has a Michelin star and Mercotte is pretty much a home taught blogger.  I find her grating and wish they had a different judge.   It's not stopping me from binge watching though...

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  And, does Mercotte drive anyone else a little bit crazy?  She reminds me of a French school marm, kind of delighting a little too much in criticism.  

 

I think there's some kind of masochistic streak in the French psyche,  they love getting scolded, I've  just had dictée flashbacks! I think Mary and Mercotte remind their home audiences of their school teachers, which is weirdly comforting! Mary has that WASPish 'I think you're disappointed in yourself' manner, and Mercotte has those amazing gallic shrugs and pouts. What I love about Cyril is that he tells her she's crazy to her face. I would swap Hollywood for him in a heartbeat. 

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Oh, I totally agree about Hollywood -- I'm not into the smugness factor at all.  It seems like he enjoys knowing more than the contestants and throwing it in their faces. For me the best judge combo would be Cyril with Mary.  I much prefer Mary to Mercotte because she's more kind and gentle.  She's a little bit of a Mary Poppins, and the French system needs a Mary Poppins!  All we have are bonnets d'ane and la honte. :-) 

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When I discovered The Great British Bake Off, two of the things I loved the most were the contestants' obvious love of what they do (on other competitive reality shows, that is often overshadowed by the contestants' competitiveness) and the camaraderie among the contestants (as opposed to the usual "I'm not here to make friends" crap we see on a lot of other shows).

It seems so rare to find that kind of show, so I was pleased to find that there are other shows with the same attitude. I thought this would be a good place to share/recommend similar shows.

There's little interaction between the competitors (at least in the first four episodes), but Anglophiles in the US might like Portrait Artist of the Year, which just started on Ovation: http://www.ovationtv.com/ovation-tv-paints-sundays-colorful-with-the-u-s-premiere-of-portrait-artist-of-the-year-starting-october-18/ The artists all love what they do, and each approaches the challenge in a completely different way—with zero manufactured drama.

The first (of two) series begins in London with a total of 21 English artists painting either Alison Steadman, Robert Lindsay, or Juliet Stevenson. The judges choose three finalists, then a winner. The process will be repeated in Glasgow, Dublin, and Wales. I'm unspoiled, but perhaps the final four interact after that?

The link I posted above is spoiler-free, but as with TGBBO, Google at your own risk! Series 1 originally aired in 2013, and series 2 in 2014.

Portrait Artist of the Year is hosted by UK TV personalities Joan Bakewell and Frank Skinner; an esteemed group of judges travel across the Europe in search of a new star in the art world. Each episode features a regional competition where artists are shortlisted and challenged to produce a portrait of one of three famous sitters. At the end of each round, the judges select an artist to go to the semifinal. The finalists will have their work displayed at the world-famous National Portrait Gallery in London and the winner will receive a £10,000 commission to paint a portrait which will become part of the permanent collection at the British Library.

With judges and onlookers examining their every move, the artists face new challenges at each phase of the competition while painting such famous “sitters” as Sir Ian McKellen, Hilary Mantel, John Hannah, Sophie Turner, Simon Weston, Sophie Dahl, Maisie Williams, John Humphrys, Julian Fellowes, Richard Dawkins and Alan Cumming.

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We now have a forum for The Great Australian Bake Off, which just started airing last week. If you aren't in Australia, you can still watch because the GABO's youtube channel has the entire first episode online (link posted in the GABO S2.E1 thread).

 

And the new season of The Great Irish Bake Off begins this Sunday so I hope some of you will be watching and come over to the GIBO forum!

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The Great South African Bake Off season 1 just started on 9 October. Male and female judges, Marquis tent and the classic theme music.

 

http://www.bbcsouthafrica.com/shows/the-great-south-african-bake-off/

I've watched the first episode and most of the second--there are some good bakers, I'm just not quite convinced they are on par with the British and Australian contestants. Although some of he presentations have been quite nice.

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We now have a forum for the Great Pottery Throw Down, another GBBO spin off. This show features pottery makers and just started airing last week. I have almost no pottery experience at all (I went to one of those pottery places and made a very lumpy creation that could generously be called an ash tray or perhaps a very small cat food dish) but I really enjoyed the first episode. Come on over and check it out!

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new GBBO spinoff show with professional pastry chefs

The Great British Bake Off is getting a spin-off show where professional pastry chefs compete to prepare the best desserts.

Bake Off: Creme de la Creme will be presented by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge.

Fifteen teams of professional chefs will compete to produce the most impressive miniatures and showpiece desserts.

The eight-part series will be shown on BBC Two next year.

The chefs will work in teams of three and will come from famous hotels, top restaurants and patisseries, as well as the development kitchen of a leading supermarket, the armed forces and private clubs.

Their efforts will be judged by three of the industry's most influential pastry chefs - Benoit Blin from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Cherish Finden from The Langham Hotel in London and Claire Clark who has twice been named Britain's best pastry chef.

The new show is being made by the same team who produce The Great British Bake Off.

Love Productions promised tension and drama as the chefs work together to show off their skills and creativity. The winner will be the team who displays "the precision of surgeons, the knowledge of chemists and the creativity of artists".

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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