Ranking My Favorite The Great British Baking Show Winners
A refreshing change to the usual cutthroat competition show dynamics, the Great British Baking Show pits Britain’s amateur bakers against each other in a friendly competition to see who is the best amateur baker while also building camaraderie and friendships among the contestants that lasts well past the show’s ending. While the bakers are labeled as amateur, I think some of their skill levels may be considered more advanced to the average viewer. Each week there is a theme to test the different skills and techniques of the bakers who must compete in three challenges: the signature, the technical, and the showstopper. If you have not seen the show, I highly recommend it, and with that being said, I also recommend not reading the rest of the article seeing how there will be obvious spoilers ahead. For those interested, seasons 1-7 are on the Roku channel, and seasons 8-14 are on Netflix.
Before I get into the ranking portion, I wanted to preface it by saying I personally liked all the winners. There was no winner I particularly disliked but rather some I just enjoyed watching more than others. When creating this list, I considered overall performance, final performance, and general likeability. Once again, these are my opinions, and people are welcome to have different ones. Additionally, I was unable to view seasons 1-3 before they were removed from Netflix, so I am only ranking winners from season 4 and onward.
11. David Atherton (Season 10)
David had a solid consistent performance throughout the majority of the season including receiving one of Paul’s famous handshakes. He struggled a bit in the semifinals, but he pulled through during the finals to win it. However, I felt his performance throughout the season was a bit overshadowed by Steph’s dominance until the very end. Steph’s downfall and lackluster performance during the finals was painful to watch, and I can’t help but wonder if the results might have been different had she been at the top of her game. David is also the only winner on this list who did not earn Star Baker at least once. That being said, David was still an amazing baker during his season and came close to Star Baker several times.
10. Frances Quinn (Season 4)
Frances was one of the earlier contestants to embrace the creative and aesthetic aspect of baking, frequently making imaginative and cute presentations. Since her season, more and more contestants seem to have superb designing and decorating skills, but she felt like the first to demonstrate them. While her designs were pleasing to the eye, her flavors did not always meet standards. The judges might have to remind her not to prioritize style over substance. Nonetheless, she still gave the judges some fantastic bakes that earned her one handshake and one Star Baker. I will admit I was rooting for Kimberley during the finals, but Frances’ win was very well deserved. When it counted, she was able to provide style and substance.
9. Sophie Faldo (Season 8)
During her season, Sophie never truly had a bad week, which is a feat several of the winners are unable to claim. Sophie shined as a talented all-around baker who was calm and collected throughout all of her bakes. Her organized and put together nature allowed her to receive 2 Star Bakers and one handshake. I personally thought some of the other bakers from her season were a bit more entertaining to watch, an example being Liam. However, Sophie produced one of the best final showstoppers in my opinion. Her “Ode to the Honey Bee” Entremet was executed perfectly both inside and out. The mirror glaze and intricate flower on top were stunning, and the judges had nothing but praise for her flavors. Overall, Sophie had a solid season.
8. Syabira Yusoff (Season 13)
Syabira had quite an impressive season with a total of 3 Star Bakers and 1 handshake. She excelled in making innovative bakes, but she might occasionally struggle with the neatness of them. She was also willing to take risks and think more out of the box when it came to flavors which I appreciated. Although her unusual flavors did not always go over well, they certainly made her stand out from the rest, especially when they worked. I wanted to rank Syabira higher due to her accomplishments during the season, however, I felt the contestants on her season lacked the same level of skill seen in previous seasons. So while some other winners on this list may have fewer Star Bakers, their competition was a lot tougher, which gives more weight to their wins in my opinion.
7. Candice Brown (Season 7)
Candice was a little inconsistent in the beginning episodes having gone from being at the bottom to Star Baker to back at the bottom. However, around episode five, she seemed to find her stride earning two more Star Bakers before winning the finals. Candice is currently tied with Syabira and Nadiya for the most Star Bakers out of the winners. She was also able to receive one of Paul Hollywood’s prized handshakes. Her finals performance was strong which was evident by the high remarks she received on her bakes. Her competitors did quite well, but they both fell a little short during the showstopper while Candice did not falter. I think she had the potential to place higher on my list, but some of the winners surpassed her in skill and impact on me as a viewer.
6. Peter Sawkins (Season 11)
At just 20 years of age, Peter is the youngest winner in the history of the show so far. It is crazy to think someone the same age as me was able to achieve the coveted title of top amateur baker all while in school. Age is certainly not the end all be all, but those extra years of experience can definitely be an advantage in The Great British Baking Show. As a result, I think it is all the more impressive that Peter was able to obtain 2 Star Bakers and a handshake on top of winning the finals. Peter also had a charismatic air to him being well assured but also not overly confident. Additionally, he showed a level of maturity while on the show and through his bakes that you might expect from someone much older.
5. Matty Edgell (Season 14)
Before entering the finals, Matty was definitely the underdog having even said it himself. It was great fun watching him progress throughout the season. You can see him take what the judges had to say into account and then improve upon his bakes. If there was a most improved award for the series, Matty might be a top contender. By the end, he managed to get 2 Star Bakers and a handshake. Additionally, he had one of the more memorable personalities throughout the series. He always seemed to be in good spirits and might frequently be having a cheeky laugh with the hosts or fellow contestants. While I was a little disappointed for Josh, I can not help but be very happy for Matty after he won the finals. Paul’s glowing praise, claiming it to be “one of the best chocolate cakes” he’s had in a long time and Prue’s raving reviews over Matty’s final showstopper cemented him as an excellent baker.
4. Giuseppe Dell’Anno (Season 12)
Giuseppe’s extreme precision and splendid Italian flavors made him stand out to me when I think back on past winners. I absolutely loved watching Giuseppe bake, and it was a real shame we did not get to see a Giuseppe and Jurgen showdown in the finals. Other than Jurgen, no one can seem to match Giuseppe’s level of expertise and consistency that season. He delivered brilliant bake after brilliant bake during the entirety of the season, leaving him with two Star Bakers and two handshakes before the final. I found Giuseppe to be a very personable winner who seemed genuine in everything he did. Despite his high quality work and heaping praise in almost each episode, he remained humble and encouraging to his competitors. When it came down to the final, Giuseppe did what he does best and created immaculate Italian flavors that left the judges wanting more.
3. Nancy Bristwhistle (Season 5)
While Nancy may have received only one Star Baker her season, she was frequently at the top. Additionally, her season was particularly stacked in terms of skills, especially with her fellow contestant Richard’s whopping five Star Baker wins. Despite this, she managed to produce some stellar bakes during the finals to cinch the victory. So far, she is the oldest winner of the Great British Baking Show, and I felt it really showed through her experience and classic bakes. She was often towards the top of the technical challenges, evidence of her considerable knowledge and sharp instincts when it comes to baking. There was also just something comforting and likable about Nancy that made me want to root for her from the beginning. Lastly, Nancy proved Paul Hollywood’s intimidation techniques and strong opinions were no match for her, and she remained confident under his scrutiny, even creating the humbling “male judge” nickname for him
2. Rahul Mandal (Season 9)
Likely the most self-deprecating winner on this list, Rahul proved time and time again that he was anything but a bad baker. He managed to receive the most handshakes out of all the winners, including the first handshake ever given for a showstopper. He also achieved Star Baker twice before winning the final. Rahul was often overly ambitious in his bakes, but he is one of the few people who can actually follow through. He did face some stiff competition with Kim Joy giving him a run for his money during the finals. And, it was his final performance, or lack thereof that kept me from giving him the top spot. Now, he obviously did not do too poorly or else he might not have won, but he did not have quite the finesse he usually demonstrates which made it very close between him and Kim Joy. There was also the controversial decision to give him extra time during the final showstopper after his glass storage jar exploded due to the extreme heat that day, although I do agree with the judges’ call. However, his phenomenal bakes earlier in the season simply cannot be ignored. I found his timid nature and lack of self confidence amusing to watch, and it made it all the more ironic when he continued to show his worth. He even further proved his competent baking skills when he slightly edged out Nancy to win one of the Great British Baking Show Holiday episodes. I was so happy to see Rahul win and hopefully give him that confidence boost he needed.
1. Nadiya Hussain (Season 6)
Nadiya was truly a force to be reckoned with during her season. She was quick witted and funny and boy did she know how to bake. She may have struggled with the technical challenges in the beginning, but she grew from her mistakes pulling off four technical wins by the end of the season. Nadiya understood the importance of flavors, and she did not shy away from bold combinations and spices. The judges repeatedly sang her praises which led to her earning 3 Star Bakers and a handshake. In addition to her outstanding bakes leading up to the last episode, Nadiya arguably had the most dominant final performance in the show so far. While only the technical is ranked, it was evident from the judges’ commentary that she was number one for all three challenges. It was the only finals I can remember where without a doubt I knew who might win and with enough confidence to bet a large sum of money on it. My mom and I to this day will still talk about how she was in a league of her own that finals weekend. Her finals performance was truly a triumph and the perfect conclusion to her amazing season. Nadiya’s winning speech really says it all.
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