The Great British Bake Off will not allow senior citizen contestants, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The decision comes as the British competition series, which is produced by Channel 4 in the U.K. and streams on Netflix in the U.S. as The Great British Baking Show, is struggling to get new episodes into production — and seniors are still considered the most at-risk group for the virus.
"There's a real sense of urgency to get the next series of Bake Off in the can, considering it's one of Channel 4's biggest draws," a source told The Sun back in June. "That means the nation's baking grans and grandads have been deemed too high risk. Bake Off's wizened contestants are often the heart of the show. Val, who would 'listen' to cakes to work out if they were done, and rapping septuagenarian Flo became favorites. WI member Diane Beard was responsible for the show's most iconic moment: Baked Alaska-gate. It's a shame characters are rejected on account of age."
In addition to the contestant ban, the Bake Off cast and crew will have to quarantine together after 80-year-old judge Prue Leith was refused insurance. The show's aiming to have new episodes ready by the time its usual late August slot opens up in the U.K. The new edition of will feature Little Britain comedian Matt Lucas making his debut as a host alongside Noel Fielding with series regulars Prue and Paul Hollywood.
Back in January, co-host Sandi Toksvig announced that she would be leaving the reality series to focus on other work opportunities after three seasons judging contestants' baking skills. "When stepping down from a job it is quite common for people to say they are doing so in order to spend more time with their family," Toksvig wrote on Twitter. "Unusually I am departing from the Great British Bake Off so I can spend more time with my other work. As my waistline will testify, Bake Off is an all-consuming show."
The decision to limit the show's contestants is one of the numerous attempts productions have made to get production rolling again, following widespread shutdowns back in March to help slow the spread of coronavirus. On Monday, it was reported that ABC was scrapping three new shows before their premiere. The trio of shows, Thirtysomething(else), The Brides and Valley Trash, were pulled from the production slate in part due to the strain that the pandemic has placed on the industry.