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The Great British Baking Show Is Back On PBS, Where Americans Can Still See Paul And Mary Together

The Great British Baking Show is back on PBS. And Americans will get to see at least two more seasons of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.


Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are back on PBS for another season of The Great British Baking Show. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

In England, fans are still in disbelief at the break of the team that many feel put the "great" in Great British Bake Off. But in America, the great British breakup has yet to happen -- and according to PBS, it will take even longer for reality to sink in on this side of the Atlantic.

Friday night, the nation's 350 PBS stations begin airing their fourth season of The Great British Baking Show, as it is called here (Pillsbury has rights to the "bakeoff" term).

And, there will be more, PBS spokesperson Michae Godwin tells FORBES. "PBS has already announced it has committed to a fifth season of the series that has previously aired on the BBC," Godwin says. "We have not determined plans beyond this."

There actually have been seven seasons of Bake Off from the BBC, where the show began airing in 2010, so that means Americans may be seeing an older season that ran before the one that kicked off the PBS run in 2014.

Therefore, in at least 2017 and presumably 2018, the Baking Show team on PBS stations will continue to consist of the stars that made it famous -- judges Mary Berry, the Julia Child of British television, and swarthy baker Paul Hollywood, plus comedic co-hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc.

All but Hollywood have left the new incarnation of British Bake Off that is in production by Channel 4, the British commercial network, after the Bake Off production company accepted a higher offer to leave the BBC.

The decision has caused distress among Bake Off fans, especially after the first publicity pictures of the new team circulated in April. Hollywood is now joined by co-hostsNoel Fielding and Sandy Toksvig, as well as new judge Prue Leith, a veteran of 50 years in the culinary world.

Nobody back in the States need worry about them for now, and PBS would rather put off that kerfuffle for a while. The Baking Show has become a summer mainstay for PBS, drawing viewers to TVs and mobile devices at a notable rate.

According to Godwin, the average television audience for the first three seasons combined is 1.8 million viewers. The program is provided for streaming on PBS.org the following day after its initial broadcast. Last summer, Baking Show was the most streamed program on PBS.org, Godwin says.

To be sure, that's a tenth of the audience that tuned in for the Downton Abbey at its peak. But those are respectable numbers for a specialty show that airs at a time of year when many Americans are out grilling or running under sprinklers to stay cool.

Baking Show is also available on Netflix, where viewers can also see a spinoff series, Master Class, which some PBS stations also air. In Master Class, Mary and Paul demonstrate expert versions of the concoctions that the show's amateur bakers try to attempt, with varying degrees of success.

The season coming up on PBS has already aired on TV in England, and proves to be one of its most controversial. I've already seen it (and you can find plenty of stories about the season on the Web and clips of the season on YouTube.)

This season's winner, whose name can easily be discovered through a Google search, has not become quite as prominent as previous star bakers like Nadiya Hussein, who won in 2015.

She was the hijab-wearing contestant who has since become a judge of a Bake Off series for children, and who baked a cake for Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday.

But this series also features one of the show's most beloved contestants, the elderly Val Stones, whose warm friendship with another smiling contestant, Selasi Gbormittah, has become one of the show's happiest byproducts.

And, there's a phenomenal baker named Andrew Smyth, who designs jet engines for Rolls Royce, and whose fans include Prince William.

You can expect PBS to fan the interest in the Baking Show all summer. (That's a baking joke.) And, if you're anything like me, your kitchen counters will be covered with pastry flour and icing sugar for the next few months.

Micheline Maynard watches trends in the food world. Follow on Twitter @culinarywoman and on Instagram @michelinemaynard.

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