Spoiler alert! After providing much-needed escapism, the Great British Bake Off has made Peter Sawkins, 20, its youngest winner to date.
Peter beat fellow finalists Laura Adlington and Dave Friday in Tuesday’s finale, which included custard slices, a walnut whirl and dessert towers.
Peter, from Edinburgh, said he felt like “an excited giddy kid”.
An average of 9.2 million people watched the final live on Channel 4, according to overnight ratings.
That was 2.3 million more than tuned in to last year’s final live, and was the show’s biggest audience since it moved from BBC One in 2017, Channel 4 said.
Finance student Peter said: “This is going to be a huge chapter in my life,” but added he would still finish his degree while continuing to bake.
He was nicknamed the “baby-faced assassin” by host Noel Fielding, and is the first Scottish winner. “I hope I have made Scotland proud,” he said. “I enjoyed using Scottish flavours and themes when I could throughout the competition.”
Peter won star baker twice and impressed right from the beginning with his accuracy and polished creations.
He went slightly off the boil mid-series, only to come back with a vengeance in the semi-final with his second star baker win, prompting judge Paul Hollywood to exclaim: “Welcome back!”
Talking about the final challenges set by Paul and fellow judge Prue Leith, Peter said: “Honestly it was never in my mind that I thought I could win this.
“But I was pleased with my first challenge of a Cranachan custard slice – Prue said it was lovely flaky pastry with good custard and that I had ticked every box.”
The ganache for his walnut whirl in the technical was described as “good” by Paul.
Peter went all out for the showstopper challenge with his Bonkers Bake Off bubble cake, which was praised for its flavours.
“Dave, Laura and I were so happy to be in the final together, we were so close and really supported each other,” said Peter.
“This year particularly all the bakers helped support each other through the journey, from day one. It’s a shame we can’t all win.”
He added that hosts Noel and Matt Lucas “were great to be with in the tent” .
It was Lucas’s first series after taking over from Sandi Toksvig
“When Noel called me the baby-faced assassin and said Paul knows that the apprentice takes over from the master – it was quite a funny nickname to be given but I wouldn’t expect anything less wacky from Noel. And I promise you I didn’t kill the master at the end of the series.”
He revealed that after his win, which happened in August, he had to smuggle his trophy on the plane back to Edinburgh.
Once home, it stayed on the family worktop in the kitchen hidden in a box.
Judges Prue and Paul said it was the closest final they have had to judge and the hardest decision to make, but it was to be Peter’s year.
“Peter should be exceptionally proud,” said Paul. “He is the youngest winner we have ever had and the first Scottish winner.”
Prue added: “Do you know I am terribly proud of Peter and I feel as if he is my grandson. He is such a nice guy and he is so eager to learn, you can’t not like him.”
Runners-up Dave and Laura congratulated Peter on his success with Dave saying: “I gave Peter a good run for his money, but he really deserves it.
“I am not at all disappointed, if someone had told me at the beginning that I would be a runner-up, I would take that, all day long.”
Having to adapt
This series the bakers have made everything from battenbergs to biscuits and rainbow bagels to brownies. They faced caged tarts in pastry week, steamed buns in Japanese week, and in 80s week, faced making quiches and ice cream cake in the middle of a heatwave.
And like almost everything else, the show’s production was shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the changes was a shortened production period, reduced to about half the usual time.
“Bake Off is normally filmed across 12 or 13 weeks, predominantly at weekends, and that’s what the bakers were told would happen at the start,” producer Kieran Smith said earlier this year.
“But within a month we asked, ‘Can you take six weeks off work and come and live in a biosphere?’ Everything was complicated, everything was different, but everybody wanted to do it.”
The show moved location from Welford Park in Berkshire to a hotel in Essex.
Before entering the hotel, everyone involved with the production – including contestants, judges, hosts, crew, staff, and cleaners – were required to self-isolate for nine days and take three Covid-19 tests.
Upon arrival, they quarantined at the hotel for 14 days before production began and stayed together in the bubble until filming ended.