I had a love/hate relationship with Noel Fielding for a long time on The great British pastry fair. Now, let’s be clear: I’ve been a huge Noel Fielding fan for years. I loved it in The Mighty Booshobsessed with his version of Kate Bush The Wuthering Heights, and always welcome him on a panel show. But since Noel became one of the two hosts of The great British pastry fair in 2017, I struggled with his approach to the concert. He is known for standing in front of bakers’ ovens and distracting competitors with his antics. Worse, sometimes he seems completely bored to be there.
So I’m honestly thrilled to say that Noel Fielding has never been better on Netflix The great British pastry fair than it is now. I first noticed a slight shift in energy when Collection 10 premiered last week, but Noel really knocked it out of the park in this week’s episode, “Biscuit Week.” The Christmas jokes were sweet, but stupid. His friendly and supportive jokes. Heck, he came to Carole’s side when she started crying and helped calm her down! Noel Fielding has finally become The great British pastry fair the host I always wanted him to be.
When The great British pastry fair eventually immigrating to American shores in the mid-2010s, it felt like a welcome antidote to the ferocious, unforgiving reality shows we’ve grown accustomed to. The stakes were benignly low: who can cook the best, for a cash prize of zero dollars, uh, pounds. The competitors did not sabotage each other; instead they hugged and helped each other. The tent itself transported you from your living room to a tranquil garden on a sprawling English estate. It was the epitome of visual comfort.
Part of the show’s initial success was due to the chemistry of original judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry and longtime co-hosts/besties Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. Sue and Mel were wild, silly, and completely into the baker’s corner. When a production chord change has been moved The Great British Bake Off from its original British home, the BBC, to Channel 4, three of its four stars refused to exodus to the rival station. (Thanks to the Channel 4 agreement, The great British pastry fair also found a new US streaming home on Netflix.)
Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig were assigned to take over from Mel and Sue, and well, let’s just say that while Noel and Sandi had their moments, they couldn’t replicate the chemistry of two longtime friends. Toksvig left the show after a few seasons to be replaced by Matt Lucas. Together, Matt and Noel brought a wacky energy to the tent. They often looked less like dumb adults maintaining a positive mental health environment and more like two crazy court jesters bringing chaos to an already stressful situation.
However, something seems to have changed in Noel’s approach. In the last episode alone, he pitied Maxy for missing your kids even when you’re “knocked out,” told Janusz and Sandro he’d hook them up with some original artwork for their apartments, and congratulated Sybira, who takes risks, for being “bonkers”. in the best possible way. This – this — is the energy I always wanted Noel to bring to the tent. That of an actor for once putting empathy before punchlines. (I also loved it when he could recognize the London building Will made for the premiere! Noel connects with the bakers as people!)
But Christmas’s final blow this week was when Carole started crying over her broken cookie mask. “Is she okay?” Noel asked someone off camera, before walking over to the baker. “Carole, don’t panic… But it’s still beautiful and it still looks amazing. What you don’t want to do is panic. Have a minute to just… calm down. Is this the same man who stood in front of a baker’s oven joking?!? Noel, I could give you a hug. You have come this far!!
Noel Fielding seems plugged into his gig as Britain’s Greatest Baking Fair host like never before. He listens to the moods of the bakers, quick to help and invested in the competition itself. He’s still silly, but he knows when to hold back and be a person first, comedian second. Noel Fielding, please keep it up! I believe in you!!!