The cast has changed, but the new “Great British Bake Off” doesn’t mess with the formula. The demanding host Paul Hollywood — who has made the transition to Channel 4 — still judges the bakes, which are divided into the familiar “signature challenge,” the difficult “technical,” and the more artistic “showstopper.” Mr. Fielding and Mrs. Toksvig ape their predecessors by saying, “On your marks, get set, bake!” in unison.
So far, critics have been open to the evolution. In The Daily Telegraph, Michael Hogan gave the Channel 4 version five of five stars, calling it “the same flavorsome confection” and saying “dough devotees can rest easy.” The Guardian’s Lucy Managan agreed, writing, “The whole thing was a glorious return to — or rather, retention of — form,” adding, “This is where I want to be when the bombs start falling.”
In a blog during the broadcast for The Guardian, Rhik Samadder offered a more muted reaction: “It’s long, and adverts are… wearing,” Mr. Samadder concluded, referring to the fact that the BBC, which is publicly funded, does not have commercials. “But Sandi and Noel could work well if they relax, and the bakers themselves impressed.”
Some critics were less gung-ho. The New Statesman’s Anna Leszkiewicz used terms like “stilted” and “self-conscious,” insisting, “Every single change to the show has been for the worse.”
On Twitter, meanwhile, viewers expressed irritation with the commercials, and didn’t quite know what to make of Mr. Fielding’s soft voice and spacey demeanor.
Ms. Leith though won high marks among fans for her tough judging style, which is more openly critical and less cushioned than Ms. Berry’s. “She is just the right mixture of disapproving mum and authoritative school headmistress,” Dianne Bourne wrote in The Manchester Evening News.
Even the harsher critics seem to second Mr. Samadder’s assessment that the bakers are the real stars. They also wowed fans and skeptics alike with their “showstoppers,” which included cakes sculpted to resemble a Russian nesting doll, a watermelon, and a loaf of bread.
In The Daily Mail, Sarah Rainey echoed the voices of so many people who need…