New challenges in Bake Off: The Professionals

Tuesday: Bake Off: The Professionals - (Channel 4, 8pm)

Liam Charles and Stacey Solomon along with judges Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden
Liam Charles and Stacey Solomon along with judges Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden

Anyone tuning in to last week’s opening episode of the current series of Bake Off: The Professionals will have noticed something different.

Yes, co-presenter Liam Charles was present and correct, along with judges Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden, but former host Tom Allen was missing, replaced by Stacey Solomon.

Luckily, it’s been a very smooth handover.

Tom announced on Instagram: “I’ve had the best time co-hosting The Professionals down in Sussex with my wonderful friend Liam but now is the time to move on.

“Stacey Solomon you are going to be absolutely amazing I can’t think of anyone better to be doing it!”

He added: “It was my first TV presenting job back in 2018 and it has taught me so much – thanks to the amazing team with whom I’ve loved working, all the incredible chefs and most of all Benoit, Cherish and of course the brilliant Liam.

“Have a great series, you guys!”

Stacey has certainly proved to be a TV natural – it wasn’t just her voice that won over the public when she appeared on The X Factor in 2009, but also her personality.

Since then, she’s appeared on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Loose Women and Celebrity Juice, among many others, and also landed her own decluttering series, Sort Your Life Out.

She’s certainly excited about becoming part of the extended Bake Off family, saying on Instagram: “I was so excited when they asked me and we filmed a couple of episodes and it’s just been so much fun.

“Everyone is so lovely and I basically just count them in and say ready steady go and then eat cake all day, it’s such a cool job, I love it so much and am just so excited for it.”

This isn’t the first big change Bake Off: The Professionals has gone through.

The show initially launched on BBC2 as Bake Off: Crème de la Crème in 2016 with chef Tom Kerridge as presenter.

There had already been some tweaks to the format when it returned the following year – for a start, there were fewer contestants, one less judge and a new host in Angus Deayton.

However, since moving to Channel 4 in 2018 and being retitled Bake Off: The Professionals, the show has remained pretty stable, so viewers can rest assured that Stacey will fit in seamlessly.

We’ll see the proof for ourselves in this week’s second episode, as she and Liam welcome back five teams from last week, ready to take on new challenges.

This week, that involves making 24 perfect savoury slices and the same number of layered crepe cakes, all in just three-and-a-half hours – and Benoit and Cherish will be expecting razor-sharp precision.

For their second challenge, they are given five hours to make 160 choux buns to create a Greatest Sporting Moments themed pièce montée – and the team that falls at this hurdle will be going home.

So let’s get cooking....