Older contestants just the right recipe for hit UK cooking show

At 81, Great British Bake Off Judge Prue Leith knows a thing or two about experienced cooks Source: Getty

The UK’s popular cooking show The Great British Bake Off  has realised like a fine wine, its contestants get better with age.

A report in The Times reveals Channel 4’s most-watched show is hosting its oldest cast in recent years in its latest series, following audience criticism that younger talent held limited appeal to viewers.

While the youngest contestant in this year’s series is a 19-year-old university student, the oldest is 70-year-old retired Dorest nurse and midwife Maggie, who is not alone when it comes to clocking up the hours in the kitchen.

Among the older contestants, viewers will be introduced to Amanda, 56, a retired detective from the Metropolitan Police; Jarizenzo, 51, a head of finance from London; Giuseppe, 45, a Bristol-based chief engineer; and Jurgen, 56, an IT professional from Sussex.

Even the average age of those competing has risen dramatically, up from 31 in 2019 when not one contestant was over the age of 60, to 40 this year.

But it appears despite denying age discrimination at the time, Love Productions – the creators behind the hit program – have listened to the call to showcase the cooking skills of older people.

Producers are undoubtedly looking to eclipse last year’s ratings’ record when viewers peaked at 10.4 million for the final, making it Channel 4’s highest-rated show since modern records began in 2002.

Australians have long been enamoured with older chefs on our TV screens with the likes of Maggie Beer, 76; Stephanie Alexander, 80; Matt Moran, 52; Neil Perry, 64; Peter Gilmore, 53; Kylie Kwong, 51; and Gabriel Gate, 66, all gracing our screens to great acclaim.

So revered is Maggie Beer for her work in the cooking space, in 2014 she established The Maggie Beer Foundation in a bid to improve food experiences for older Australians, especially those living in aged care homes.

Earlier this week, Australia’s Celebrity Masterchef released a teaser to its line-up of celebrity cooks for this year’s season.

A story in New Idea reveals we could be taking a leaf out of the book of our UK cousins, with producers of the latest series also casting familiar older faces including actress Rebecca Gibney, 56 and fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, 55.

“We’re about to do something that’s utter, utter madness,” Gibney says on the program trailer.

“I can not believe I’m going to be cooking on MasterChef.”

Should reality TV shows feature more older people?

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up