Judge leaves 'Great British Bake Off': What's behind the show's appeal?

Judge Mary Berry will reportedly not appear on the program once it moves to Britain's Channel 4. Fellow judge Paul Hollywood, however, says he'll remain. 

PBS/File
Judges and hosts on 'The Great British Bake Off' are (l.-r.) Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, Sue Perkins, and Mel Giedroyc.

A judge has departed the popular cooking show “The Great British Bake Off,” which has fascinated viewers in the US and Britain.

Judge Mary Berry is reportedly not joining the program when it goes to Britain’s Channel 4 from its former home on the BBC. Hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc have also said they will not appear on the program after it debuts on Channel 4 in 2017 in Britain. 

Paul Hollywood, anither judge on the show, has said he’s going to stay on the program when it goes to its new home.

“The Great British Bake Off” debuted in Britain in 2010 in Britain and PBS brought the show to America (where it is titled “The Great British Baking Show”) in late 2014. It later debuted on Netflix.

Not only is the program popular in the United Kingdom, but US viewers were quickly won over as well. 

“You really need to watch ‘The Great British Baking Show,’” Vulture writer Megan Reynolds wrote earlier this year. “Imagine a reality-television show that combines talent, gumption, and kindness interspersed with moments of real humanity, packaged neatly into an hour-long episode of television, all set on the grounds of rolling, verdant British estates – it's for these and other reasons that ‘The Great British Baking Show’ is one of the best shows on television.”

NPR writer Linda Holmes was also won over by the tone of the show. “It's been very, very hard for American unscripted television to employ pure gentleness without cloying sentimentality, to balance kindness and bluntness,” Ms. Holmes wrote.

“These are the things that, with the magic of good bread, ‘The Great British Baking Show’ does effortlessly … [The contestants] congratulate each other on their successes and commiserate about struggles, not in the manner of uplift-driven phonies, but the way an ideal group of colleagues would. They often nervously look to each other for advice ... Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood play at being the punishing, fearsome authority figures of the piece, and they've got the expertise and the high standards for it. But both, really, are always on the side of the contestants.”

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