Great Britain

Great British Bake Off set turned into a fortress to keep fans away from the tent

THE stars of the Great British Bake Off were thrilled when they found themselves isolating and working at a luxury hotel – but it’s starting to sound more like a prison.

I understand that the makers of the Channel 4 show have turned the site in the grounds of the Down Hall Hotel in Hertfordshire into a veritable fortress.

They’ve doubled their security staff in a bid to maintain a Covid-safe “biosphere” which could be contaminated by someone wandering in from outside.

Filming is now starting with judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood, plus hosts Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding.

A TV insider said: “The last thing the producers want is anything that could risk filming being held up or cancelled completely.

“So they’re not taking any chances when it comes to protecting the show, even arranging all the tents, huts and other temporary structures to help create a perimeter that is almost impossible to breach.

“If a spanner was thrown in the works it would be particularly galling for Channel 4 as Bake Off is their most watched show. And as well as filming the main show at Down Hall, they also make the Christmas Special, the celebrity specials and Junior Bake Off in one batch.

“So there’s a lot at stake, and the message is: Please keep away or face being turned away.”

The hope is that the show, which is now in its 12th series, will still air later this summer.

Show bosses also want to ensure everyone can taste one another’s bakes in safety and Paul has the confidence to deliver one of his legendary Hollywood handshakes.  

But that depends on them ensuring nobody gets access to the Bake Off site other than the stars, the crew and the contestants.

Last month I revealed how they would be returning to the luxurious rural retreat that offers spas and elegant suites set among landscaped gardens. So self-isolating for days on end would hardly be a hardship.


STRICTLY Come Dancing star Ore Oduba has swapped sequins for fishnet stockings and high heels as he kits up as Brad Majors for the Rocky Horror Show tour.

Speaking about his starring role in the production, which tours the UK from July 19 until next June, Ore said: “It’s definitely different to anything I’ve worn on stage before, though I can’t claim it’s my first time in stockings and heels!”

Tickets can be bought at


DAVINA McCALL has revealed how hard she tried to fit the job of presenting Channel 4’s reboot of Changing Rooms into her busy schedule.

She had to accept defeat and Anna Richardson is now taking the job on. But it wasn’t through a lack of trying on the part of Davina. It was all down to constantly changing Covid restrictions.

Masked Singer and Masked Dancer judge Davina said: “Changing Rooms changed times when they were filming, sadly, because of Covid as they were going into people’s houses. They had to change it three times.

“And I could do the first two times that they changed it, but I had stuff on this third time so that was really depressing. I was so frustrated and annoyed about that.

“I wasn’t annoyed as in angry, I was just sad about it because I bloody love that show. But I have to let go of that now.”

Davina would have been a brilliant match for Changing Rooms – they’re both classics who blossomed in the Nineties that we need on our screens again today.

Jen's Morning Show

THE second series of Apple TV+ drama The Morning Show will air from September 17.

Friends star Jennifer Aniston was executive producer and also starred in it opposite Reese Witherspoon.

Both leading ladies, as well as Steve Carell, will return for the new ten-part series.


SHE’S back in black – but Countdown’s new host Anne Robinson has at least tweaked the look she made famous on The Weakest Link.

Anne’s outfits on the BBC1 quiz matched her forbidding style, which involved humiliating contestants over their appearance and (lack of) intelligence.

But Anne, who takes over from host of nine years Nick Hewer on June 28, seems to have lightened up after realising she’s making history on the show.

For the first time in 39 years, she’s one of a trio of ladies fronting the daytime favourite, alongside Rachel Riley and Susie Dent.

Anne said: “Three Girls Do Countdown – who wouldn’t want to watch?”

Susie said: “I’m so pleased to be able to work with Anne again. With her flair and wit, she’s going to be a wonderful addition to the Countdown team.”

Rachel added: “It’s been really fun watching Anne very quickly find her feet in the Countdown studio and seeing the contestants in the new groove with her.

“She’s not shy of asking them funny questions and the responses have ranged from going into their own comedy routines to not looking directly at her and hoping she doesn’t see them. It’s been very lively.”


TELLY comic Katherine Ryan has given birth to her second child – just a fortnight after confirming she was pregnant.

Katherine revealed that she was expecting during her Telling Everybody Everything podcast, and after having her baby this week she posted on social media: “I have a really good reason why yesterday’s podcast is late.”

Katherine, who stars in Netflix comedy The Duchess, and partner Bobby Kootstra have yet to reveal the name or gender of the child – their first together.

The couple have been in a civil partnership since 2019 and live in Hertfordshire with Katherine’s daughter from a previous relationship.

Bake Off's Paul Hollywood asks Prue Leith to 'try his horn'

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