The front of camera team might have undergone a reshuffle but the Bake Off formula has survived the move to Channel 4 intact: weak gags, soggy innuendos, the ritual sacrifice of burnt offerings in the bin and those absurd, rococo-designed showstoppers are all present and correct.
It might take time for Fielding and Toksvig to recreate Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins’s “chemistry” but they quickly build an empathetic bond with this year’s 12 amateur bakers.
A showstopper challenge to create an “illusion cake” that “doesn’t look like a cake“ is the one concession to Fielding’s surreal humour.
At times, it feels like an electric cattle prod is threatened off camera should Fielding let his true Mighty Boosh-self off the leash.
A cookery show veteran, Leith is a more tart presence than the departed Mary Berry. “This is not a pretty sight,” she ticks off one hopeful.
A warning against “style over substance” seems a little unfair when she is about to presented with an elaborate “champagne and bottle in a bucket cake” and a fondant-packed creation presented as a black evening clutch bag.
The frotting that contestant Sophie gives to the cork end of her champagne bottle, to Fielding’s delight and a debate over the perils of leaving an “exposed bottom” confirm that Bake Off will never be light on double entendres.
A Siberian-born baker Julia, who unveils a Russian doll-within-a-doll showstopper, adds a touch of exoticism to the typically diverse and likable line-up of hopefuls.
Paul Hollywood, now group leader, rolls his eyes when Prue suggests coming round for breakfast to try the youngest male contender’s “pancake” cake.
Yet he appears comfortable having a more dynamic judging partner.
Viewers will have to get used to advert breaks breaking up the rhythm of proceedings. But after seven years Bake Off has benefited from a refresh.
Despite the bad blood with the BBC over the series’ scheduling on Channel 4, Essex man contestant James probably has the right attitude.
After an early setback, he said: “It’s just a sponge, no-one’s gonna die.”
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