Scone, but not forgotten: our GBBO heroes of the past five years

There's no denying it: Bake Off fans are fickle. We'll turn quicker than rough puff on a warm day, and our judgements are snappier than a well-baked biscotti. One week you're riding high on a wave of patisserie praise, the next you're being booted out of the tent and the nation's hearts quicker than you can say 'dough' (farewell, Marie).

 

But despite all this, there are some contestants who will never be forgotten. The ones we loved so much, we'd practically give up carbs to see them back on our screens. Here's our GBBO Hall of Fame, in no particular order.

 

(Except Norman is first, obviously.)

 

Norman 'The Norm' Calder

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Norman Calder

Via: The Great British Bake Off / Love Productions / BBC

Where do we start? Last year's Norman Conquest saw the nation fall more in love with the seafaring Scot and his no-frills baking every week. Forget plimsolls and polo-necks – this was the real Normcore.

 

Displaying a level of multicultural knowledge to make our Daily Express-reading grannies look practically cosmopolitan ("I've never made [Tiramisu] before, no. I couldn't even spell it."), Norm took us all back to a simpler time. A time when a good biscuit was made from flour, salt and lard. A time when the only decoration your tart needed was icing sugar and a knife.

 

After he finally bowed to peer pressure, went beyond his comfort zone and was promptly evicted from the tent, we all learned a vital lesson: humble pie is always best. And never put lavender in a meringue.

 

Best moment: "For me, this is very exotic you know. Pesto."

 

Cathryn 'in a tizz' Dresser

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Cathryn Dresser

Via: The Great British Bake Off / Love Productions / BBC

Series three's Cathryn quickly became one of our best-ever Bake Off contestants for her incredible repertoire of BBC-friendly swearwords. There was no disaster too big or too messy that Cathryn couldn't politely curse her way through it.

 

"Oh my giddy aunt!" she bleated as her steamed puddings fell to bits. "Oh lore!" she cried as her chocolate teacakes melted all over the shop. "For crying out loud!" she wept with laughter after slapping around her strudel dough so enthusiastically that it ended up on the floor, covered in hairy remnants. "I'm not serving Mary Berry green carpet."

 

Best moment: Making her tarte tatin a little foil hat to stop it burning. Aw.

 

Ali 'snazzy sweater' Imdad

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Outlandish knitwear is as quintessentially Bake Off as floor cake and soggy bottoms, so it was with open arms that we welcomed adorable Ali to our screens in series four.

 

First appearing wearing what looked like a Christmas jumper in the middle of May, he won our hearts with his creative flavour combos and endearingly innocent approach to baking. But the wide-eyed novice came a cropper in pie week by making something he didn't actually like, and hadn't tasted. It's fiiine, Ali – it's not like it was a competition or anything.

 


Best moment: "“I know what I’m doing, but not necessarily why I’m doing it,” Ali told Paul during bread week. We'd like THAT on a jumper please.

 

Howard 'little schnecken' Middleton

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Howard

Via: The Great British Bake Off / Love Productions / BBC

Delivering series four's second slice of 'n'awww' was Howard, a bespectacled northerner who won our hearts with his gentle stoicism as the victim of the Great Custard Robbery of 2013 – followed a week later by the lesser-publicised Sue's Elbow In My Muffin-Gate. Forgiveness, thy name is Howard.

 

He's also remembered as the man who introduced Mary Berry to hemp, and for being affectionately labelled a 'little schnecken' by Mel, after the snail-shaped German bun of the same name. If ever there was a man who mirrored all our warm feelings towards teatime buns, it's Howard.

 

Best moment: "When I've done this previously, people were quite impressed," sighed Howard over his forlorn green-tea biscuit pagoda.

 

"That was my mum and dad, though."

 

Nancy 'that'll do' Birtwhistle

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Nancy

Via: The Great British Bake Off / Love Productions / BBC

She was only on our screens a year ago, but already Nancy's been away too long. Non-nonsense Nance was a breath of fresh air in a world of twiddly, fiddly baking (we're looking at you, Luis, with your gold-leaf olives). From using a special teeny guillotine to slice her cakes to baking a full English breakfast into a stromboli, Nancy's approach was a brilliant blend of precision, skill, and 'meh – that'll do.'

 

When her praline went wrong, she blitzed it into crumbs and pretended it was on purpose. When a doom-filled Paul Hollywood told her proving her dough in the microwave was "a dangerous thing to do", she shrugged and did it anyway. And you know what? She won! Instant hope for slightly slapdash bakers everywhere.

 

Best moment: "The male judge." Nancy may have claimed that forgetting Paul's name was an accident, but we all know it was a sly intimidation technique. See also: icing his face on to a doughnut.

Which Great British Bake Off contestant did you love more than cake itself? Comment below, or tweet us @Homemade