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Friday 29 September 2023

In Search of Instagram’s Worst Con Artist - Coming to ITV 26th October

Presenting "In Search of Instagram’s Worst Con Artist," a gripping two-part documentary that delves deep into the intricate narrative of Belle Gibson. This 21-year-old social influencer rose to prominence by asserting that she had conquered her terminal cancer through a regimen of wellness and wholesome eating. Her tale of triumph garnered her not only fame but also considerable wealth, marked by a successful app, a book deal, and numerous television appearances. However, a startling revelation surfaced as investigative journalists delved into her story: Belle Gibson's entire narrative was a fabrication—she had never battled cancer. In her wake, she left behind a trail of misled followers, some of whom suffered dire consequences.

Through exclusive interviews with her friends and family, who speak candidly for the first time, this two-part series uncovers the unvarnished truth surrounding Belle Gibson. Was she a masterful manipulator, an impulsive liar, or a vulnerable young woman exploited by corporate giants for their own gains? "In Search of Instagram’s Worst Con Artist" unravels the complex web of deception and seeks to untangle the motivations behind Belle Gibson's actions, painting a comprehensive portrait of a controversial figure.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Irish Star Samantha Mumba Joins 'Harry Wild Series 2' Cast Alongside Actress Jane Seymour

By Jon Donnis
Excitement is in the air for fans of the hit series 'Harry Wild' as the highly anticipated second season is set to premiere on Acorn TV on October 9, 2023. This season promises to bring even more thrills and mysteries to the screen, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. To add to the anticipation, it has been revealed that Irish actor, singer, and songwriter Samantha Mumba will be joining the cast in a significant role.

In the upcoming season, Samantha Mumba will be taking on the character of Paula Reid, playing the role of Fergus' mother in the series. Fergus Reid, portrayed by Rohan Nedd, has already captured the hearts of the audience with his performance as a young partner in PI work alongside the seasoned former literature professor turned detective, Harry Wild, played by the legendary Jane Seymour.

Their dynamic and quick-witted partnership keeps viewers entertained as they delve into various cases, from missing persons to murder mysteries. However, things take a deeply personal turn when Fergus's mother, Paula Reid, unexpectedly reappears in their lives after years of being absent, leaving them with a perplexing mystery to solve - her intentions and whether Fergus can trust her.

Samantha Mumba, a Grammy-nominated artist and celebrated entertainer, brings her talent and charisma to the series. She has etched her name in music history as the youngest international female soloist to debut on the Billboard Hot 100. With a number one album and numerous top 10 hits worldwide, Mumba's foray into acting has also been notable. Her performance alongside Guy Pearce in the Oscar-nominated film 'The Time Machine' was well-received, showcasing her versatility as an artist. Moreover, her contribution to the Legally Blonde Soundtrack demonstrated her musical prowess.

Fans and critics alike are eager to see Samantha Mumba's portrayal of Paula Reid and how her character will interweave with the intriguing plot of 'Harry Wild Series 2.' With the premiere scheduled for October 9, 2023, and the subsequent episodes airing weekly on Mondays, viewers can expect a captivating blend of mystery, drama, and exceptional performances from the talented cast, making this season a must-watch. Get ready for an exhilarating ride into the world of crime-solving with Harry Wild and Fergus Reid, as they face both professional challenges and personal revelations in this exciting new season.

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Big Brother returns Sunday 8th October

ITV has officially announced the start date for Big Brother, with the highly anticipated series set to return on Sunday, October 8th.

Big Brother: The Launch will be a major television event, airing on ITV1, ITV2, and ITVX, showcasing the grand comeback of the ultimate social experiment. The series will kick off at 9 pm.

AJ Odudu and Will Best, the unknown hosts of the show, will welcome a carefully chosen group of housemates from diverse backgrounds, (Basically the usual idiots from London agents, who have tried and failed to make it on TV for years, a woke tickbox of untalented hacks) as they step into the all-new Big Brother house. This dramatic entrance will take place in front of a live studio audience.

The iconic Big Brother house, redesigned for this exciting revival, will once again be the hub for thrilling challenges, suspenseful nominations, and live evictions. The public will have a crucial role, voting throughout the series to determine the ultimate winner, who will receive a life-changing cash prize.

Following each episode of Big Brother, viewers can look forward to Big Brother: Late & Live. This fresh commission will be hosted live by AJ Odudu and Will Best (still no idea who they are? Couldn't they afford Davina?), right from the Big Brother house location, in front of a studio audience. It will provide an additional hour of exclusive Big Brother content, including the first live interview with the evictees, behind-the-scenes access, celebrity guest commentary, debates, and weekly nomination results.

The iconic Big Brother: Live Stream is also making its return, exclusively on ITVX, airing seven nights a week. This will allow mental patients and prisoners to watch live footage into the late hours after the conclusion of Big Brother: Late & Live.

Predators In Action - Coming to National Geographic International

For a moment I thought ITV was going to start exposing more of its daytime presenters and newsreaders, but alas I was wrong.

Presenting 'Predators In Action' (working title), an exhilarating wildlife series slated for National Geographic International, produced in Bristol by True To Nature in collaboration with ITV Studios. This gripping six-part series will chronicle the journeys of some of the planet's most formidable apex predators, including leopards, grey wolves, and crocodiles, offering an in-depth look into their high-stakes hunts and the myriad of factors influencing their triumphs and setbacks.

Through a seamless blend of top-tier specialized archive footage and cutting-edge VFX techniques, each episode will focus on a distinct species, meticulously unfolding the predatory traits crucial for surmounting challenges in their quest for survival.

To vividly portray these predator-prey dynamics, an innovative 3D-graphics game engine will freeze and present pivotal predatory moments from diverse perspectives. These critical instances will delve into concealed viewpoints, biological intricacies, and behaviours, all rooted in the latest scientific research. This promises an immersive, analytical, and comprehensive understanding of life as a top predator, portrayed in the most dramatic and compelling manner.

Sarah Peat at National Geographic International spearheaded the commissioning of the series. Wendy Darke serves as the Executive Producer for True To Nature, with Adam Oldroyd as the Series Producer. Doghouse Post Production will manage post-production and VFX, while ITV Studios takes charge of the global distribution of the series.

The creative vision for 'Predators In Action' (working title) is to unveil fresh perspectives and insights into the world's most prolific and iconic hunters, showcasing their unparalleled actions and behaviour.

Wendy Darke, Executive Producer at True To Nature, expressed enthusiasm, stating, "Partnering with National Geographic International and ITV Studios for the first time on this innovative venture allows us to gain unprecedented insights into predators in action. We aim to shed light on the attributes, skills, and behaviors that give them the upper hand, most of the time, in the fiercely competitive natural world of predator versus prey."

Yeti Television - Car Boot Kings for Channel 4

Yeti Television has proudly announced its collaboration with Channel 4 for "Car Boot Kings" (60'), a documentary developed within Channel 4's First Cut initiative, aimed at nurturing new directors in the realm of broadcast TV.

Fueled by the UK's enthusiasm for good deals and the necessity to make extra income during economic downturns, car boot sales are experiencing a boom. "Car Boot Kings" chronicles the journey of two lifelong friends capitalizing on this trend, consistently attracting nine thousand traders and buyers each week right in their own front yard.

JT and Andrew, affectionately known as the "Car Boot Kings," operate the largest car boot sale in the lively West Midlands. While the rest of Britain sleeps, crowds flock to their fields in search of bargains, looking to sell their preloved items or uncover treasures they can resell for a profit. These sprawling markets spring to life within a matter of hours, offering a vast array of items.

For some, the car boot sale provides not just a few extra pounds but a lifeline. Many regular attendees rely on this additional income to put food on their tables and provide pocket money for their children. For the Kings, managing to keep budget-conscious visitors content while ensuring a profitable venture is an ongoing challenge. With the unpredictable weather during the brief summer season, the question remains: can both the Booters and Kings thrive?

Siân Price, the Creative Director of Yeti, expressed her excitement, stating, "Having been an avid car-booter myself, I am thrilled to bring the fascinating characters and narratives woven into this world to the forefront. JT & Andrew truly stand out! We are equally excited to support the talented up-and-coming director, Cam Bang Peter Tat, in his debut single documentary for Channel 4 as part of the First Cut initiative!"

"Car Boot Kings" is set to air on Channel 4 in October.

Sunday 24 September 2023

BBC to air 2023 Junior Eurovision Song Contest live from France


After an unforgettable Eurovision Song Contest, which was hosted earlier this year in Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest is set to grace the screens of the BBC this upcoming autumn.

As the talented young participants gear up for the contest, the UK will present its own act, aged between 9 and 14, in the competition set to take place on Sunday, November 26, 2023.

The enchanting Palais Nikaïa in Nice, France, will serve as the venue for this event, following Lissandro’s triumph in 2022 with the captivating song "Oh Maman!"

Last year marked a historic moment as the Junior Eurovision Song Contest made its debut on the BBC. Representing the United Kingdom, Freya Skye delivered the song "Lose My Head" at the contest in Yerevan, Armenia, securing the fifth overall position and winning the public vote.

The preparations are underway to select the act and song for the upcoming year, orchestrated by BBC Studios Entertainment and Music in collaboration with CBBC. Stay tuned for more updates, including the UK's chosen act and song, as well as the commentator for the UK.

Patricia Hidalgo, Director of BBC Children’s and Education, shared her excitement, stating, "Following on from the fabulous spectacle of the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year in Liverpool, we are so proud to once again bring Junior Eurovision to the BBC and to give children and their families the opportunity to enjoy this incredible show together."

In addition to the contest, BBC Children’s has plans to revisit Freya Skye’s journey through a special "My Life" documentary set to be broadcast on CBBC and BBC iPlayer. A further half-hour documentary will follow this year's selected act on CBBC and BBC iPlayer in anticipation of the live contest.

Doctor Who trailer for 60th Anniversary Shows

In the latest trailer, Neil Patrick Harris makes a grand entrance, stepping into the spotlight as the Toymaker, a formidable foe last seen in 1966. The mystery deepens: what event has drawn the Doctor into a face-off with this powerful adversary from the past?

Neil Patrick Harris takes on the role of The Toymaker in Doctor Who. Additionally, the trailer reveals the triumphant return of UNIT, with Jemma Redgrave reprising her iconic part as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, alongside David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor.

Jemma Redgrave reprises her role as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart.

Showrunner Russell T Davies enthusiastically states, "This is just the beginning, and the excitement is building. We're gearing up for a November filled with unexpected twists in Doctor Who, captivating both long-time fans and newcomers. Stay tuned!"

Doctor Who makes its return in November 2023, featuring three special episodes with David Tennant portraying the Fourteenth Doctor, perfectly timed for the 60th anniversary. Enjoy it while you can before the ridiculous woke casting of Ncuti Gatwa makes "their" inaugural appearance as the Fifteenth Doctor during the festive season to what will for sure be record low ratings.

Doctor Who will make its premiere exclusively on the BBC for the UK and Ireland, while Disney+ will serve as the exclusive platform for new Doctor Who seasons outside of the UK and Ireland.

Channel 4's propaganda "drama" Partygate cast announced

The latest propaganda "drama" called "Partygate" by Channel 4 delves into the political scene, from a far-left activist perspective, with a focus on two fictional Special Advisors, Grace Greenwood (portrayed by Georgie Henley from The Chronicles of Narnia) and Annabel D'acre (played by Ophelia Lovibond from W1A). Grounded in far-left activist opinion of actual events within Downing Street, the show features a guest appearance by impressionist Jon Culshaw as the voice of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The narrative unfolds through ridiculous re-enactments, propaganda interwoven with archival news footage and documentary-style interviews. It pushes the narrative of the Covid crisis across the nation, juxtaposed with the troubling revelations of staff at Number 10 engaging in a series of parties, often fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol, while at the same time totally ignoring the opposition party MPs as well as various media personalities doing the exact same thing.

Joining Jon Culshaw, the stellar cast of "Partygate" includes Phil Daniels (known for Quadrophenia), Rebecca Humphries (from Ten Percent), Hugh Skinner (famous for The Windsors), Charlotte Richie (seen in Ghosts), Craig Parkinson (renowned for Line of Duty), Tom Durant-Pritchard (of The Windsors), Anthony Calf (known for New Tricks), Alice Lowe (featured in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch), Kimberly Nixon (from Fresh Meat), Alice Orr-Ewing (from This Is Going to Hurt), Naomi Battrick (from Jamestown), and Edwin Flay.

If you want your brain filled with hypocritical nonsense, then this is the show for you.

Saturday 23 September 2023

Preview: "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" - An Epic Journey into the Heart of Titans

By Jon Donnis
Prepare for a monstrous adventure like no other, as Apple TV+ unleashes "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" on November 17, 2023. This 10-episode series is set to delve deep into Legendary's Monsterverse, revealing a world where colossal creatures are not just the stuff of myths.

At the helm of this awe-inspiring saga are a star-studded cast, including the iconic Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell, alongside Anna Sawai, Kiersey Clemons, Ren Watabe, Mari Yamamoto, Anders Holm, Joe Tippett, and Elisa Lasowski. Together, they bring to life the story of two siblings, following in their father's footsteps to uncover their family's connection to the enigmatic Monarch organization.

The storyline unfolds in the aftermath of a cataclysmic battle between Godzilla and the Titans that left San Francisco in ruins. The shocking revelation that monsters are real sets the stage for a narrative that spans decades and generations, blending the intrigue of the 1950s with a modern-day struggle to protect the world from the lurking Titan threat.

Guiding the audience through this whirlwind of adventure are the talented co-developers Chris Black ("Severance," "Star Trek: Enterprise," "Outcast") and Matt Fraction ("Hawkeye"), with Matt Shakman ("WandaVision") directing the first two episodes. The captivating storytelling, interwoven with moments of revelation, promises to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

As part of Legendary Entertainment's Monsterverse, "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" is more than just a TV series, it's an integral part of an interconnected universe that began with the colossal success of "Godzilla" in 2014. Since then, the Monsterverse has continued to captivate audiences worldwide, amassing close to two billion dollars globally at the box office. With the highly anticipated sequel "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire" on the horizon, this epic universe shows no signs of slowing down.

With an extraordinary cast, an intricate storyline that spans generations, and the promise of revealing hidden secrets about Monarch and the monsters, "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" is set to redefine the boundaries of monster-centric storytelling. Tune in on November 17, 2023, to witness a legacy unfold, one that echoes the roaring might of Titans and the resilience of those who stand to protect our world.

Friday 22 September 2023

C*A*U*G*H*T - Coming to ITV on 12th October


Introducing the satirical comedy series titled "C*A*U*G*H*T*" which follows the journey of four Australian soldiers dispatched on a covert mission to a war-ravaged nation. In an amusing twist, these soldiers are mistaken for Americans, leading them to be apprehended by freedom fighters. Their creation of a viral hostage video catapults them into unexpected stardom. Surprisingly, as they bask in the glow of celebrity status, they come to realize that their capture might just be the stroke of luck they needed.

The series, spanning six episodes, features a stellar cast including Kick Gurry (known for "Edge of Tomorrow"), who serves as the director, producer, and writer, alongside luminaries such as Sean Penn, Matthew Fox, Ben O’Toole, Lincoln Younes, Alexander England, Mel Jarnson, Fayssal Bazzi, Dorian Nkono, and Rebecca Breeds.

Kick Gurry, the visionary behind the show, expressed, "Crafting something that lives up to the incredible talents of my friends was a monumental task. I'm genuinely excited to share this series with the world and am prepared for the full spectrum of online opinions on how I fared."

Sean Penn, an executive producer and also part of the cast, shared his thoughts: "Kick's irreverent style crackles with an enthusiasm for all things deliciously inappropriate. From humor involving sensitive topics, to fame, the interplay between the foolish and the wise, and even that eerily persistent backdrop of warfare. 'C*A*U*G*H*T*' encapsulates a brand of comedy that typically resides in the trenches."

Wednesday 20 September 2023

New Louis Theroux interviews

BBC Factual have announced an exciting lineup for the second series of "Louis Theroux Interviews," where acclaimed journalist and broadcaster Louis Theroux engages with a diverse array of cultural icons and industry pioneers from the realms of sports, entertainment, and global affairs.

Filmed at various captivating locations, spanning from New York City to Normandy and from Glastonbury to the French Riviera, the upcoming series promises to bring audiences closer to some of the world's most renowned figures, showcasing Louis's broadest range of guests to date:

Two-time world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua

Louis comes face to face with two-time world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, at his local boxing gym in North London. Against the backdrop of AJ's fight with American boxer Jermaine Franklin, Louis explores his success, set-backs and his sporting motivations, as well as spending time together in the Watford estate in which AJ was raised.

Actor and producer, Ashley Walters

In the Kent seaside town of Herne Bay, Louis meets Top Boy actor and ex-So Solid Crew rapper Ashley Walters. Ashley tells Louis about growing up in Peckham, including run-ins with the police, his transition from music to acting, and life by the sea with his partner and children.

Whistleblower and activist, Chelsea Manning

Louis travels to New York City to delve into the mind of one of America's most polarizing figures, famous whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning. In 2010, Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst, released the largest set of classified documents in U.S. history and was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for her actions. Branded a traitor by some and a hero by others, Chelsea reveals what drove her to risk everything by making the documents public, whilst sharing details of her life now as a DJ and public speaker.

Hollywood icon, Dame Joan Collins

Louis heads to the French Riviera to meet one of the icons of Hollywood's Golden age, Dame Joan Collins. Welcomed into her holiday home near St Tropez, Louis and Dame Joan discuss the highs and lows of her multi-decade career, including her star turns in The Stud and as Alexis in Dynasty. Louis also hits the town with Dame Joan and her husband of over 20 years, Percy Gibson.

Artist and musician, Pete Doherty

Louis meets notorious Libertines and Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty in Normandy, where he now lives with his wife and their baby daughter. Discussing music, drugs and his hopes for a bright future after a turbulent career, Louis also joins Pete on tour with the rest of the Libertines, and hangs out backstage at Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire.

Singer-songwriter, Raye

In South London Louis meets the newly independent singer and songwriter, Raye. In a pivotal year that has seen her winning an Ivor Novello and nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, Louis and Raye unpack her journey from her record label split, to her number one single 'Escapism', and a new artistic freedom. Louis also takes to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury to watch the 25-year-old musician as she marks this new chapter with one of her biggest performances yet.

Merging intimate one-on-one dialogues with Louis's characteristic immersive filming approach, each of the six documentaries will delve into the lives and careers of these individuals up to the present day, capturing pivotal moments in their professional journeys. Produced by Mindhouse, a production company co-founded by Theroux, the highly anticipated second series is set to air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer later this year.

Louis Theroux says: "Working with the team on these six new programmes has been an enormous pleasure. The six guests are all distinctive and brilliant in different ways, all of them people who have endured setbacks and huge successes, and who have something to share with the world based on their journeys through life. We have tried to build on the success of the first six Louis Theroux Interviews, while pushing further this time into terrain that is gritty and difficult, exploring subjects like mental health, brushes with the law, and political controversy.

"Like the first six Louis Theroux Interviews, each show mixes stylish master interviews with behind-the-scenes moments and actuality shot on location, so viewers have the double pleasure of a thoughtful in-depth conversation alongside a revealing look into the lives of the contributors: in the locker room post-fight with Anthony Joshua, Raye's dressing room before her Glastonbury set, Joan Collins' house in the south of France. The tone of the shows is always open-minded and generous-hearted, while hopefully being funny, and always mindful of the need to keep viewers interested. I like them, and I'm notoriously hard to please."

Interviews: Harry Judd & Melanie Blatt Celebrity Race Across the World

Harry Judd and his mum Emma

Why did you want to take part in Celebrity Race Across The World?

Harry: Well, it feels like a totally unique opportunity, particularly at our age and our stages of life. I've got three young children, so you can imagine me trying to pitch to my wife that I'm going off travelling for a month! I never travelled when I was younger, I travelled with the band, but I never properly did backpacking, and I always wanted to, and I think the same applies for my mum, she always wanted to but started a family when she was 22.

Emma: Yeah, I was young and one thing I think that I've missed in my life, not that I regret it, was actually backpacking and going off on an adventure like this. So, when Harry had the opportunity come along, I thought what could be better than going on an adventure with my son!

Would you say that you're both quite adventurous people?

Emma: I think I am.

Harry: You are, but you haven't been able to express that adventurousness.

Emma: No, because I've been very lucky and I had a family young, and various things have happened along the way. So, I've been caring for people or family or working, so I haven't been able to do it, but now I'm not! And I've never minded, but I just thought, wow, why wouldn't I want to do it! And the other thing for me, is that Harry left home at 17, totally unexpected and it totally blew me away. So, we just haven't had time together on our own. He's got his lovely family, lovely wife, so it's always with other people, so precious time together with my son – what's not to like?

Do you think you're going to be good travelling companions together?

Harry: It's hard to tell really. I think we've predicted that there's potential that we might get on each other's nerves, but the truth is, I'm a bit more like my dad, and I have witnessed them bickering a bit in the past so I wouldn't be surprised if we have a little bicker! So, I think I've got to try and be aware that I do things my way, but mum would do things her way and we've got to meet in the middle somewhere. We definitely think differently, I'm a bit more intense I'd say.

Emma: I think with our strengths and weaknesses we make a good team.

Harry: I'm hoping so!

What skills do you think you each bring to the experience?

Emma: Well, I'm scatty… I like to think I'm very much, 'let's do it! Come on and let's go!'

Harry: Positive energy and you just throw yourself into it.

Emma: That's it, positive energy! I'm no good with directions, crap with money, that's why I very much rely on him for those things. So, I think I can bring the caring side and also the 'let's get on with it'. I'm also thinking, because of being in nursing, I've been through all sorts, especially when I was younger and I was working night duties and doing very long hours, maybe I'm prepared for it? I don't know.

Harry: I think mum will be much better getting on with it, I don't think I'll be as good as dealing with the discomfort or tiredness or things like that. I'll definitely complain more…

What kind of traveller are you? Are you happy backpacking and roughing it or do you like your creature comforts and five-star hotels?

Harry: Something about this excites me, I'm hoping to see things and experience different cultures and I think we have to do it this way. I think it's great, because I think any other time, even if I was travelling, I would probably travel in luxury, we'll go here and stay in a nice hotel and then we'll travel there and get a tour guide to take us.

Emma: His dad is just the same, so I'm really pleased to get out and get in there.

Harry: But we don't want to predict too much because I could be moaning away in two weeks' time!

Emma: And I'm selling myself as such a superhero and then I'll collapse at the first hurdle!

How do you feel about travelling without a mobile phone or credit cards?

Harry: There's something quite freeing about it and just not having to worry about it. We're so attached to our phones – I'm awful. So, I think I I'm quite looking forward to just having to read a book and having to keep my head up. But at the same time, a phone is a very nice distraction, there are nice things to look at in your phone, and I'm going to miss speaking to my wife every day, that's going to be a struggle.

Emma: I feel relieved that I don't have to communicate! What a relief! Because my husband, for instance, last night he asked me 'how many packs of toothpaste have you got,' he loves a bit of detail! I love him dearly, but if I ring him he goes, 'how do I do the cooking and what am I doing?' and I just think 'oh go away!'

Harry: Yes, like me, he wants detail. Even though he's going to make the decision he wants to tell you about everything, he wants to know what you're doing and why have you done it like that!

What's the most unusual thing you've brought with you?

Harry: My drumsticks would probably be quite unusual to some people, and mum's going to teach me some tapestry.

Emma: I've brought a kit for him especially, which is a Christmas stocking, because I've done tapestries for all the children – well I'm finishing Rocky's actually on this trip – Christmas stockings which they hang up on the fireplace. Stitching is a very good thing for me to do, because I'm quite busy myself and I don't really like watching telly and things so I'm doing the stitching. And I brought a kit for Harry so he can do one for his wife.

Harry: My family have also given me something each.

Emma: What have they given you?

Harry: Well, I don't know yet, they're in letters. I've got two letters from Lola, one letter from Kit, two letters from Izzy and I think a pack of photos that we can enjoy.

Emma: I've got keyrings, bits and pieces like that to remind me of each person, little memories.

Harry: One's a keyring from the car garage dad goes to!

Emma: Yes, he's not a great romantic either, so I said there's reminders of our frequent trips to the garage!

What do the rest of the family make of you two doing this trip together?

Harry: Well, my wife is very supportive and amazing considering we've got three children and the fact that she struggles with anxiety, particularly separation anxiety, which she's been pretty open about. So, she slightly thinks that it's not really me that's going through the challenge, it's her – they should be making a TV show on how she can cope at home! So, she's been amazing, because her instinct is to ask me not to go, but she's really fighting her fear to allow me to go through this experience. So, it's mixed emotions. But ultimately, we felt it was the right thing to do. And my children think it's great that daddy is racing across the world. I think my youngest, the one-year-old, I'm very proud to say he very much loves his daddy, so I'm very sad about leaving him because I don't want him to be thinking, where's that man gone? And, anyway [to Emma], you've got your husband and your other two children!

Emma: Yes, I've got a daughter and another son and they're very supportive, and very pleased. But my daughter is sad because her Thursday childcare is gone! And my son is very jealous of us! But I think it is a good experience to be away from each other, having a break!

Have you watched previous series of Race Across the World? And will you be taking any tips from them?

Harry: I was never very good at doing homework…

Emma: I've been doing a bit! But I can't remember of course. But I've got the gist of it, I think. What it is, is you've just got to experience it.

How competitive are you both? Are you in it to win it?

Harry: Once that start gun goes off, we'll give it our best go! But you've got to balance the competition between your own sanity and comfort, and I think you can be a more effective racer if you don't go out all guns blazing. It's a marathon not a sprint.

Emma: I don't want the pressure.

Harry: I don't want mum to feel any pressure, she'll do her best and that's all we can ask for, that's what we aim for, we'll just do our best!

Melanie Blatt and mum Helene

Why did you decide to take part in the series?

Melanie: For the experience, to be out of my comfort zone, to do something that I wouldn't necessarily choose to do on my own. I'm definitely up for challenges and pushing myself… And this is what mum does all the time!

Helene: I like to discover new things and have experiences and it's one of my passions – travelling, having new experiences.

And have you inherited that adventurous side, Melanie?

Melanie: In a more luxury way! I love to travel, but I like to travel nicely!

How competitive are you?

Melanie: I think we're quite competitive in our nature, but at the same time we definitely want to enjoy ourselves during this trip. So, we've got a bit of a mantra that we're not going to run, so if somebody is running ahead of us, we'll let them run!

What kind of traveller would you say you are?

Melanie: I would say I enjoy luxury… But I do also like to experience the country that I'm in. I love wildlife and nature, so that's always part of a holiday usually too.

What made you want to do this journey together?

Helene: Our relationship is good, but to be together, we've never done that just the two of us. So, I think that's the main thing, to do something that's just us!

Melanie: Definitely! I'm very aware that anything can happen at any point, so to have this quality time with my mum, it's to be appreciated and it's not a given and I'm lucky to even have a mum in the first place. But we've not spent one-on-one time, this kind of time together intensely and already before leaving we spent a week together and there were some annoyances – I'm not going to lie!

Helene: And vice-versa!

Melanie: Exactly! We annoy each other, and we're both deaf so we're talking to each other and not listening and not hearing so those are the kind of things where we'll probably drive each other a bit mad! And she [Helene] is also very used to being the boss, and then I'm also very used to being the boss, which can sometimes cause a little bit of friction!

What do you think will be your greatest skills?

Melanie: I think we're quite open and ready and happy to talk to people and get stuck in. We're open minded and really up for it! Mum also is French, so she speaks French, plus Spanish and English – just about! So, she's good with languages, and she's good with geography, well… better than I am!

How do you feel about travelling without a mobile phone or credit cards?

Melanie: That's really scary. I haven't had my phone since about seven o'clock this morning and it's been an issue! I'm addicted to my phone, it's always in my hand. Even when I'm watching TV, I'm playing a game on it. You know? Even just not being able to check the time! So, it's weird not just being able to check the time or google something, it's going to be so interesting to see what it feels like to just not have a phone.

Did you do anything to prepare for the trip?

Melanie: I got a sunbed! And a McDonalds! Just in case I can't have one for a month. Jokes aside, no! Maybe we'll regret that one later, but no we haven't done any preparation together.

Helene: There's not much you can do to prepare anyway because we don't know where we're going, and we don't know how much money we'll have to spend so you can't prepare really!

Have you taken any tips from watching previous series of RATW?

Helene: Yes! We've watched everything!

Melanie: I actually hadn't watched it. But mum told me about it, because mum and dad actually applied to be on it - the regular version of the show – without even telling us! But as soon as we got a confirmation that we were definitely doing it, that's when I chose to watch it and I was horrified! So yes, we have watched it and there are a few things that we are going to do, having seen the previous series.

What do the rest of your family make of you two doing this trip together?

Helene: I think they're happy to get rid of us!

Melanie: They just can't wait to watch it! That's their main thing, they're just like, this is going to be hilarious. Also, mum and dad haven't been apart from each other since I was about 12, so it's going to be weird for her not having dad around!

What essentials, that you couldn't travel without, have you brought with you?

Melanie: Wet wipes! And fags…

Helene: My Swiss Army Knife and also my compass.

Would you say you cope well during a crisis? Are you calm under pressure?

Melanie: I'd like to think so. I know mum is, and I'd like to think I am, but I haven't really been in these kind of situations before now! I can get stressed, and frustrated perhaps, so this is a very big test for who I am, because I'm normally a very calm person but like I've said I've not really been in any scary situations.

What's been your best ever travel experience?

Helene: I think for me, it would be swimming with hammer head sharks in the Galapagos! It would also be the scariest, it was a big surprise but it was an experience which will probably never be repeated, so it was a lucky, lucky day!

Melanie: I'm really blessed that I've had so many amazing ones, I've been really lucky. But one which is definitely one of my most amazing, is when I went on the Orient Express from Bangkok to Singapore. It was for Save The Wild Tigers and on the last night on the train, I had two of my best friends there, and one of them and her fiancé DJ'd and did this great set with Wham! and all the best tunes, and we were on the back of the train, going fast through Kuala Lumpur and just the wind, and the tunes and everybody dancing, it was brilliant!

Interviews: Alex Beresford & Billy Monger Celebrity Race Across the World

Alex Beresford and dad Noel

Why did you want to take part in the series?

Alex: I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to do something that we've never done before. Neither of us have ever backpacked, so it's a new experience. And, also, just to see some amazing places! Across continents and across countries, and you're getting to see everything at ground level, so it's completely different to just flying over – getting to immerse yourself in different cultures and communities. And then there's also the excitement of not knowing where we're actually going or how we're going to get there, every day is up in the air and can either all fall apart or can all come together and hopefully it comes together so we can win! That's why we signed up, right?!

Noel: Yes Sir! I'm into exploring new things, so this seemed like a good opportunity to see all the different cultures and how other people live and see how we get on, because we haven't spent a lot of time together over the last year and a half.

Alex: Yes, during Covid, being separate and not being able to see each other for a good period of time. I'm living in London and dad is living in Bristol, so we do get to see each but not really for proper quality time, sometimes it's very brief, so this is uninterrupted time and I don't know when we'll get that again.

Was the time that you'll get to spend together one of the things about taking part that really appealed to you?

Alex: Yes, definitely. You spend so much time with your parents as kids and then there's a massive chunk of your life where you're building your own life and you're separate, even though you're still in contact and still often together. So, this is an opportunity to spend some good quality time with one of your parents.

Would you say that you're quite adventurous?

Alex: I'd say we are both very adventurous, well I say that and we haven't actually backpacked before… But we're both up for experiencing life and new experiences! I guess I'm a chip off the old block, as they say, my dad is very outgoing, I'm very outgoing, so it made sense to do it with him.

What kind of travellers are you? Do you like your creature comforts, five-star hotels?

Alex: Ordering room service, having a nice time, taking a dip in the pool, I guess that's what we've been used to. Backpacking hasn't previously really appealed to me, to be honest with you, only because I'd always be thinking about 'where are we going to stay?', 'how am I going to wash?' all of those kinds of things. I am quite fussy I guess. I can be fussy, which is probably why I never wanted to do it before. But, at my age now, I think to myself, this is the right time. I'm up for a new experience and I'd like to challenge myself in different ways.

Noel: As Alex said, we've never done anything like this. The closest I've been to something like this is probably sleeping outside after a night out on the drink! So, it's going to be interesting!

Alex: I think also, our lives, well not so much dad's because he's retired now, but our lives are so busy that when I think holiday, I think two weeks, it's got to be in a sunny destination, I want guaranteed good weather, you want to guarantee it's going to be exactly what you need because you're escaping the rat race back home. But, what's different with this is we're not escaping the rat race, we're actually in a race! I don't know exactly what to expect and I'm happy to go with the flow, but I imagine that at times it is going to be quite testing isn't it? It's going to be uncomfortable, there's going to be some dead time where you want to move but you can't move, and it's a race so I can't imagine how relaxing it's going to be. However, it's a one-off experience, obviously it's a race from start to finish but at the same time we want a great experience, we want to also be able to stop off and go and see some great things.

Noel: I'm also interested to meet the other competitors.

Alex: Yes, we also want to be able to size everybody up and see who our competition is!

How competitive are you both? Are you in it to win it?

Noel: We are very competitive, but we're here to enjoy it and see things, different cultures, how people live, explore all the nice things we come across. It's not just head down get to the finish line.

Alex: We want to be looking up, we don't want to be looking down. You've got to find that fine balance of wanting to win, but to get to the end and win having not seen anything would actually be a loss.

How do you feel about travelling without a mobile phone or credit cards?

Alex: I'm really struggling with that. I keep going to put my hand in my pocket because I think my phone is there, and then it's not. So, I think my dad will probably cope better than me because although he's used to being on his phone, it's the young ones really isn't it who are used to being on their phones, having them attached to their hands. So, I am going to struggle, although I am hoping that something that will come out of this experience is me being able to put down my phone because I am on it all the time. I also want to call home desperately, it's part of my routine. My watch is still on English time and I'm thinking, my son has just got home, and I'd like to give him a call to see how his day was and I can't do that, and that's quite heart breaking.

Noel: Yes, I was thinking the same thing, so I brought some puzzle books.

Alex: I didn't bring anything like that! So, I might need to borrow one so I can do something! I also do have an old school iPod that I managed to borrow from a friend so that will keep me entertained.

What are you imagining your biggest challenges might be during the trip?

Noel: Money!

Alex: This trip is about sacrifices; you have to sacrifice at every stage to make your money last. You have to really think about your choices and, also, there will be some gambles, so I'm worried about the gambles that we take - will they be the right gambles? Will they be the wrong gambles?

Noel: We could make a bad choice but with the other series that I've watched, it's about the recovery.

Alex: Yes, that's the thing, this race will be won on choices. You need to make the right choices; I've done my research as well with previous series and I've seen that it's an open race until the end.

Noel: If we make a bad choice, we'll want to make sure we don't make it again, and I've also seen people recover from those bad choices.

Alex: That's the good thing as well, there's room for mistakes throughout this whole process. If you make a mistake, and you get left behind, it might give you the opportunity to go and do something that you wouldn't have necessarily got to do if you had got on that bus that you wanted to get on. So, it's about weighing up the pros and cons of every choice.

It sounds like you have thoroughly watched the previous series of Race Across the World, did you pick up any tips from them?

Alex: I think you have to; you have to get yourself into it. In terms of tips, it was the choices thing. From watching the previous series, I've had thoughts at the start of 'they're definitely going to win,' and then they didn't win. And that's the beauty of it, that we're all on an equal playing field.

Have you got a strategy going into the race?

Alex: I don't think you can have a strategy for this, other than spend your money wisely. That's probably the biggest strategy, so that we can actually stay in the competition, because it would be heart breaking to have to leave because we run out of money.

Noel: Trying to work our way on the transport so we don't have to pay!

Alex: Yes, we'll serve drinks, we'll do whatever we need to do in order to save money! But really, I don't think you can have too much of a strategy, just because there are so many twists and turns. So, I think if you try and pick a way to do this, that could actually be your downfall. Instead, I think tackling your problems as they come up is the way to do this.

Have you packed anything for this trip that you just can't live without?

Alex: Well, I like to look after my beard, so I shaved it down for the start, but I'm debating whether I'll end up growing the beard out or not, so I've brought my beard pruning stuff with me. So, I've got my cutthroat blade, which I will use from time to time to tidy things up and still try and remain fairly respectable. But ask me in seven days' time… I think it's all going to go out the window!

Noel: I've got my puzzle books, but that's about it really.

Alex: We packed really simply and that's actually one thing that worries me. I don't actually have any of my creature comforts or things that I like to do, so in the quiet time it's going to be quite difficult. Even today, I was in my room on my own and I started to think, and I could feel myself getting a bit emotional about wanting to call home.

Would you say you cope well during a crisis? Are you calm under pressure?

Alex: I'd like to say that hypothetically we'd be good in a crisis, but lack of sleep, lack of food and all these other factors, could affect your state of mind and you could end up making a couple of bad choices. Who knows?

What do the rest of your family make of you two doing this trip together?

Noel: They're right behind us!

Alex: Yes, all the way! They think it's such a great opportunity, I know that lots of them are jealous because they're not getting to do it! My wife is absolutely beside herself that she's not here doing this, because this is something that she would love to do. We only got married recently so we've gone from just getting married, still going through the honeymoon period and then I've left her for a month! So, we better come back with a win!

Billy Monger and sister Bonny

Why did you want to take part in Celebrity Race Across The World?

Billy: To be honest, when we got approached for it and it was suggested that I do it with Bonny, I wasn't too sure Bon would be up for doing it. The one thing that did make me think that maybe she would be up for doing it was the fact that it was about travelling because we've spoken about going travelling before. So, I was a bit unsure myself, I'd not watched the series before, and then I spoke to Bon about it and she said it could be quite cool. So, we sat down and watched it and got more and more into it and then decided why not!

Bonny: And here we are!

So, have you always wanted to travel?

Bonny: Yeah, we've always spoken about travelling and going and doing something together, but we've never actually been organised enough to do it. With this, it's not organised for us, and we have to do it ourselves so it's kind of like being thrown in the deep end and you've just got to do it. I just thought, it will be fun, and it's the one time where we'll both actually have a month off where we can say let's go and do something different, so it was kind of a no brainer, and we get to spend a bit of time together and have a laugh.

What kind of travellers are you? Do you like your creature comforts, five-star hotels or are you adventurous and up for backpacking?

Bonny: I've always wanted to backpack. I've never actually backpacked before but it's exciting to do it. If we had been planning our own travels together it probably wouldn't quite have been backpacking!

Billy: It wouldn't be all five-star stuff either, but it would probably be a little bit different to what I imagine this is going to be like, in terms of doing everything on such a budget and staying in hostels and being tight on money for food. That probably wouldn't have been such a thing if we'd gone travelling ourselves outside of this race – I like to think we probably would have eaten well! So, there's a few things that will probably be a bit different to how we would have done it.

Bonny: Definitely.

Billy: But it's exciting to try some new things as well!

How competitive are you both? Are you in it to win it?

Billy: I think so! More so now we're closer to it, now we're actually here at the start. We've been sat in our hotel room going through what languages we know and what could be useful, little tactics we think we could use, so we're getting a little bit more competitive now we're here.

Bonny: But we've only seen these four walls, so that's probably going to go completely out of the window tomorrow when we actually get outside.

Billy: Yeah, we've come up with all these elaborate plans and then we're going to end up in the complete wrong direction to what we think we will and what we've planned will be completely useless!

Do either of you speak any other languages?

Billy: No…

Bonny: Well, we've just discovered Billy can speak a little bit of French!

Billy: I did GCSE French at school and I was alright but I've not used the language since, so it's just completely gone from my memory. But now we're actually out here and we're thinking in that sort of way, I've remembered a couple of phrases that could be useful. So, there might be a tiny, tiny bit of broken French!

Bonny: We were just trying to work out how to say 'sister', but he can only say 'dad', so he's just going to be saying 'my name is Billy, and this is my dad,' so that's probably going to get us some funny looks!

What other skills to you think you'll be able to bring to the race?

Billy: Well, when I was going through the bits of broken French that I may or may not know, Bonny started doing her charades, and what she's going to try and do to visually explain to people what we're trying to say. And I think it's a hidden talent, so I'm looking forward to seeing that action!

Bonny: I don't really know what strengths we bring to the table, but we're both hard workers! So, when it gets to the point where we get to do some work, we'll take that in our stride and have a bit of fun with it and try and make the most out of it.

How do you feel about travelling without a mobile phone or credit cards?

Billy: It's going to be really weird. Even just today, leaving the UK and flying across, me and Bon kept tapping our pockets thinking we'd lost our phones, completely forgetting that they're now gone completely. I feel like it's worse when we're in our hotel room before the start of it, because we're sat here and we haven't got much to do, so you'd normally just go on your phone, but maybe when we get going, and we're busy thinking about getting across the world...

Bonny: I think we'll soon forget about phones, but it is hard because you rely on them so much, and just to get out your card and tap it for a bottle of water or something, whereas you actually have to think.

How do you think you'll do with the budgeting?

Billy: I don't know to be honest... I might struggle with the budgeting; I do think I'm going to have to look after the purse strings a little bit!

Bonny: Earlier Billy said, 'maybe we should get a taxi as soon as we start and get on our way' and I said, 'no, that's going to be too expensive,' and I think that's the only time I've ever said that! Because if I'm in London, I'd just say let's get in a taxi and not even think about it, or just jump on a bus, so I do think maybe it's starting to sink in.

Billy: I think because we're competitive, we will just naturally realise that we have to be good with that, so I think it will help us out a bit that we're a bit competitive.

What do the rest of your family make of you two doing this trip together?

Billy: Most of them are laughing at us and saying, 'are you sure?' I don't think we've instilled a lot of confidence in our friends and family that this is something we're going to excel at. But I'm hoping we're going to surprise people!

Do you think you'll be able to sustain your close relationship during the race?

Bonny: Well, we've been locked in this room together for three hours now and we haven't had an argument yet, so we're off to a good start!

Billy: So far so good! It's getting on potentially 10-hour long buses and stuff, and being in high-pressure situations as well, as I think there's going to be a few of them along the way isn't there, maybe where Bonny wants to get a bus and I want to get a train, decisions like that that we've got to make along the way. I'm hoping we don't fall out at any point! There might just be a bit of back and forth.

Bonny: A bit of snapping at each other maybe if we're both tired and hungry.

Billy: So far, I think we're in a good starting position – we're not angry at each other from the get-go!

What do you think your biggest challenges might be along the way?

Bonny: I think finding the modes of transport, I don't know whether there's a train network or a rail network here or what the buses are like, so it's going to be figuring all that out and getting to grips with what the travel is like here – what the most popular modes of transport are, and what's the cheapest. As soon as we get our head around that I think we'll be able to get on with it a bit more, but it's going be the slow start, I think.

Have you packed anything for this trip that you just can't live without?

Billy: This one is for you, Bon… You know what you've got.

Bonny: I'm a bit of a fake tan queen because I'm so pale. I'm translucent! I can't do with being pale! But I think I'm doing okay, bearing in mind that last time I went on holiday I went for 10 days, and my suitcase was 36 kilograms! This time round my rucksack is only 16 kilograms, so I think I'm doing really well!

Billy: Funnily enough when I thought about the things I needed for travelling fake tan wasn't in the top 10!

Celebrity Race Across the World - Who is in it, and what it is about

TV presenter Alex Beresford and his father, Noel; singer Mel Blatt and her mother, Helene; McFly drummer Harry Judd and his mother, Emma; and British Racing Driver and pundit Billy Monger with his sister, Bonny, are embarking on an exciting adventure in the highly awaited Celebrity Race Across the World.

The journey kicks off in Marrakech, Morocco, the most northwestern country in Africa, and concludes in Tromsø, Norway, known as the Arctic capital. This epic expedition will cover 24 countries and traverse over 10,000 km. Their route will take them through a diverse array of landscapes and cultures in this part of the world: starting from the vibrant North African city of Marrakech, across seaside ports and beaches of the Mediterranean, through historical and cosmopolitan cities, the towering Alps, uncharted territories of Central Europe, enchanting Baltic States, and the snowy landscapes of Scandinavia.

This six-part celebrity edition of the beloved series will follow the four celebrities and their racing partners as they strive to reach a finish line thousands of miles away, all without relying on air travel or modern-day conveniences. Stripped of modern luxuries and technology, they will need to depend on their skills, wit, creativity, and hard work to succeed. With no credit cards, smartphones, or internet access and armed only with the cash equivalent of a flight to their final destination, they will have to earn extra funds along the way and seek assistance from kind-hearted strangers to progress. This remarkable journey will provide a unique glimpse into the celebrities' dynamics and relationships with their fellow travel companions.

Guy Mowbray to call the action on BBC One’s Gladiators

Prominent sports commentator Guy Mowbray, renowned for his distinct voice in top-tier football, will be narrating the exhilarating action on the much-anticipated Gladiators sports entertainment gameshow, soon to grace BBC One and iPlayer.

With a rich history of commentary for major events like the Africa Cup of Nations, European Championship, FA Cup, and Premier League, Guy held millions of viewers spellbound during the 2021 Euros final, where he vividly described Italy's triumph over England on live BBC Television. Additionally, his unique voice can be heard in the EA Sports FC 24 game.

Now, Guy is set to lend his commentary expertise to the show, offering a captivating account of the courageous contenders as they face formidable challenges and the mighty Gladiators.

Reflecting on his role, Guy Mowbray expressed, "Being the voice of this iconic show is a true delight. For many, it will evoke Saturday night memories, and I'm excited for a new generation to discover a revamped, even more formidable group of Gladiators. They are exceptional athletes, as are all the contenders who boldly challenge them. What excites me the most is that the format remains true to its roots, only enhanced!"

Dan Baldwin added, "We're thrilled to welcome the legendary voice of Guy Mowbray to the team. Guy brings a unique style to his commentary, unmatched in his field. His narrative will undoubtedly add an electrifying dimension to Gladiators."

Gladiators, spanning 11 episodes of 60 minutes each, is a production by Hungry Bear and MGM Alternative UK for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. The show was commissioned by Kate Phillips, Director of Unscripted, with Dan Baldwin and Lou Brown serving as Executive Producers for Hungry Bear, and Dom Bird for MGM Alternative UK. Overseeing entertainment commissioning for the BBC is Kalpna Patel-Knight, with Clodagh O'Donoghue as the Commissioning Editor for the BBC.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

The Great British Bake Off Series 14 - Contestant Bios

Abbi, 27
Veg grower & delivery driver
Yorkshire-born Abbi first learned to bake alongside her mum, honing those early skills during her teens, when she became enthralled by the Victorian era and especially the traditional bakes of the time – steamed puddings, fruit cakes and more. Now she takes her inspiration from her environment and the beautiful English countryside around her home. A lover of the great outdoors, she forages for seasonal ingredients – the bigger and bolder, the better – and puts her homegrown veg to good use. Abbi's bakes aim to combine comfort and familiarity with a strong nod towards nature, and a feeling of creating something magical – bakes with a touch of fairytale!

AMOS, 43
North London
Deli & grocery manager
Film and theatre enthusiast, theme-park lover and hospitality professional, Amos grew up in Nottingham with his mum and sister, but now lives and works in North London. As a child, Amos was always amazed by his mum's ability to whip up delicious bakes at a moment's notice – making her both the inspiration and the role model for his own commitment to some serious baking. Amos describes his bakes as a labour of love – his style is colourful and chic with keen attention to detail, and he loves exploring different flavour profiles. He compares his baking style to the converted church that he now lives in, calling both his style and home 'traditional with a modern twist'.

East London
Mum & PA
Life with four children means that, for Cristy, there always seems to be a birthday to bake for and an exciting party to plan. She describes her baking style as enchanted and pretty – bakes that conjure up a sense of childhood. Cakes are her speciality, and she draws flavour inspiration from her own Israeli heritage and from her husband's Jamaican roots. She is a dab hand with decoration and gets a thrill out of making sure the results look perfect. When she's not organising a celebration, you can find her having an outdoor adventure, letting her hair down with her friends, or solving a Rubik's cube – in under 4 minutes!

DAN, 42
Civil engineering resource planner
Dan's interest in cooking began when he went travelling in South America in 2007. His particular loves are pies and puddings: before he and his wife bought their first home, they lived with his in-laws, during which time his mother-in-law taught him how to make perfect shortcrust pastry. Subsequently, his passion for pies has evolved into a penchant for patisserie! Perfectionist Dan loves a baking challenge and will often find the hardest bake in one of his many (more than 300!) cook books and start there, throwing everything he's got at creating a masterpiece. When he's not baking, he loves to play football with his two young sons, work out in the gym, or forage for edible treats in the countryside around his home.

DANA, 25
Database administrator
Dana's passion for baking started at the age of 16 when she identified a gap in her family's traditionally Indian culinary repertoire. As a self-professed untidy baker, Dana would avoid stepping on her mum's toes in the kitchen by catching the bus to her dad's house to indulge her need to experiment with her bakes. Now she has a kitchen of her own (and a cockapoo, Gracie, to clean up after her), Dana has become the family's go-to celebration cake-maker. Her style is rustic and homely, but always pleasing to the eye. She loves a semi-naked cake with neat lines, pretty piping and minimalist decoration; and although she likes to keep her flavours safe, Dana will often incorporate a twist or two, adding in familiar spices associated with her Indian heritage.

JOSH, 27
Post-doctoral research associate
Josh is a chemist by trade and brings his scientist's precision and keenness to experiment into the kitchen, taking careful notes on each part of the baking process and perfecting all his techniques for gorgeous results. He likes to take his inspiration from old baking books, reinventing classics to give them a modern twist, often by introducing alternative flavours and including the seasonal fruit and vegetables from his kitchen garden. Josh has been playing rugby for his local team for more than 15 years, and once a month he bakes lots of treats to reward his teammates after a rigorous training session. He dreams of having his own artisan bakery one day.

Chartered accountant
Apple pies and fairy cakes – which he learned to bake with his mum – form the baking backdrop to Keith's childhood, along with his mum's love for traditional dishes from her home in Malta. Since those formative years, Keith has never stopped baking. Recently, though, he has returned to the baking books of the early 1970s to attempt recipes that were once 'beyond' him. He loves the challenge of taking on more complex bakes and has grown in confidence with bread. His partner, Sue, has got very used to waking up to the smell of a freshly baked loaf! They live with their poodle, Maisie, just a few steps from the sea.

PE & science teacher
Matty is the type of baker who swats up on online patisserie videos before bed. No matter how good he gets, though, he strives to equal the impressiveness of the bake that first caught his imagination: a teddy-bear cake that his late nan made him for his fourth birthday. Now the family's designated baker, he always has a list of cake requests for upcoming celebrations. He describes his style as rustic but neat, and his flavour preferences as quite traditional – he particularly loves chocolate, citrus and nuts. Once his days in the tent are over, his next – and even bigger – challenge will be to make his own wedding cake, a special commission from his fiancée, Lara.

West Midlands
Retired cabin crew & volunteer
Nicky describes her baking as 'like a pair of comfy old slippers; little traditional bakes that evoke fond memories'. For Nicky herself, those memories are of her Gran's kitchen table where, as a little girl, she would roll out pastries and decorate cakes – which she says was as much fun then as all her baking is to her now. Her favourite bakes are still pastries, but she also loves making breads, and fun birthday cakes for her niece and grandchildren. When she's not baking, Nicky volunteers for a pet-therapy charity (along with her dog, Bracken) and loves to ski, which she has been doing since she was only three years old.

West Yorkshire
'Go big, or go home' is Rowan's motto, and one that he has always applied to his bakes. His earliest baking memories are of scones, pork pies, shortbread and traditional jam tarts (which he claims as a Northern delicacy). A student of English literature, when he's not writing up a storm, Rowan is also a keen host, applying his creative eye to his cooking – he aims for clean lines and interesting decoration in his finished bakes. Just like his much-admired, knock-out cocktail-making skills, Rowan expresses his grand, opulent side in his bakes, wowing his uni friends with his creations. He made his own 21st birthday cake – a three-tier, 12-layer extravaganza.

SAKU, 50
Intelligence analyst
Sri Lankan-born Saku places the traditional flavours of her heritage at the heart of her baking – particularly the curry spices, which she claims make for the best pie fillings, while liberal sprinklings of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg find their way into her sweeter bakes. At her family home in Sri Lanka, Saku didn't have an oven until she was 18, so she turned to baking only when she moved with her husband to the UK, in 2003, and particularly when she became a mum – rustling up treats for her children's lunchboxes by replicating the snacks she saw in the supermarket. Self-taught, she is now a dab hand with a whisk and relishes using her homegrown ingredients from her pride and joy – her vegetable patch.

Participation officer
The best thing Tasha remembers about baking as a child was licking the sugar icing from the tops of the fairy cakes she, her mum and her grandma used to make. At secondary school, she made cakes for her friends and was soon encouraged by her Food Technology teacher to develop her skills as a hobby. Much like her attitude to life, Tasha's baking is fearless. She uses it as a way to express herself creatively, often embarking upon near-impossible designs – with impressive results! When she's not baking, Tasha loves going to the theatre to see a West End show and she has a passion for travelling the world.