The Great British Bake Off is returning to TV this autumn, but, in case you’ve been living in a cave, its eighth series will air on Channel 4 rather than the Beeb. The source of a huge amount of upset, the controversy around the move has rumbled on this week as new presenter Noel Fielding (only one of the original hosts, Paul Hollywood, has made the move to 4, but you know that already, right?) mentioned that for weight reasons he’s trying not to eat sugar. Cue Twitter meltdown.
So it’s safe to say that there are many people who care deeply that Channel 4 gets the show right. In amongst Fielding’s recent sugargate though, a good sign that all will in fact be well came last Friday when 4 released its first trail for the show, a charming animation of croissants, cakes and a showstopper all singing along to a version of Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus’s We All Stand Together. We talk to 4Creative’s Jack Croft and Stacey Bird about how the spot was made.
CR: What was the brief for the trailer?
Jack Croft & Stacey Bird: We were asked to come up with something that would showcase the British public’s great love affair with baking. With the move to Channel 4 dividing opinions, we wanted to illustrate how a love of cakes and bakes is something we all have in common. We hope what we’ve created is something that celebrates the joy and fun of baking, with a pinch of a unifying message under the crust.
CR: After all the press coverage of the channel move was there more pressure than usual on this film? Was there a need to make the show distinctive to Channel 4?
JC & SB: We wanted to make an ad that announced the return of The Great British Bake Off in a way that only Channel 4 can but at the same time reassure fans that this is still the show they love. Channel 4 is committed to bringing back Bake Off with all the love and warmth of the original and we’ve tried to create this in the ad.
CR: The show has new presenters on 4 – why did you decide not to use them in the trail?
JC & SB: They don’t appear in this for the simple reason that we wanted to focus on what’s at the heart of the show; the baking.
CR: What are the most challenging aspects of working with baked products?
JC & SB: The most challenging aspect for us as the creatives was figuring out how we could create quirky, lovable characters out of piles of dough! We wanted to take viewers on a journey from flour right through to a massive showstopper finale so had to think about how to get authentic characters into quite simple things such as bubbling liquid and piles of flour. We also wanted to use the baked products to reflect the ‘togetherness’ message of the song so in a lot of the shots you’ll see that characters physically join together, like the plaited ones, the croissants and the rainbow rolling cake.
Together with the directors Parabella we worked out how to create these ‘found faces’ and their team of baking and animation wizards then figured out how to bring them to life.
Once Parabella and their team got into the testing phase, we had to adapt to what was actually possible. Things were proving, quite literally, to bake and grow in a totally different way to how we’d imagined. It was great as we found completely different ways of doing things in the weeks and days leading up to the first shoot day.
CR: Did the shoot go smoothly? What went wrong/right – and were there any big surprises?
JC & SB: It was our first stop frame animation shoot and it was completely alien to have so little control! Things bake how they bake, animation takes flipping ages and baking your lead characters on the day is a risky business. The only real thing we could say went wrong was the bubbling singers in the bowl. They were meant to be faces that appeared when the mixture was swirled but they just couldn’t get it to work. On set we banged our heads together and changed these to the bubbling mouths instead. And we think it’s better for it!
CR: How long did it take to shoot?
JC & SB: It took 8 days to shoot and about 2/3 weeks of testing.
CR: How did you choose the music?
JC & SB: We knew we wanted a song that talked about unity in a non-cheesy way. And there are A LOT of cheesy unity songs out there. Enter our CD, Dan Watts. He’s been a mega fan of Paul McCartney since he was a kid. And unlike many Paul McCartney fans, he felt that the song We All Stand Together was McCartney’s finest piece of work. We paired it with our baked character ideas and hey presto!
CR: And what happened to all the cakes in it…?
JC & SB: We’d love to say that we sat down and enjoyed a massive banquet of cakes, but once all those bakes had been handled by numerous animators and sat under studio lights, sadly they weren’t edible. Most of them are distributed between the freezers of Blink and 4creative. Stacey has the bread Britannia sat on her fireplace.
GBBO Trailer credits:
ECDs: John Allison, Chris Bovill
Creative director: Dan Watts
Creatives: Jack Croft, Stacey Bird
Production company: Blinkink
Directors: Parabella (Michael Please, Dan Ojari)