The Great British Bake Off stars today told of their sadness as Sandi Toksvig announced she is leaving the Channel 4 programme after three years as a presenter.
The 61-year-old, who hosts the baking programme alongside Noel Fielding, said today that she wants to leave the Bake Off tent to focus on other work projects.
Her co-stars lamented her departure, with Noel Fielding saying he ‘feels like Tom without Jerry’, Paul Hollywood telling how she ‘will always be part of the Bake Off family’ and Prue Leith insisting they would be ‘lifelong friends way beyond the tent’.
Copenhagen-born Toksvig will appear in the forthcoming charity series of Bake Off, The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off, before departing the show for good.
The presenter, also known for hosting quiz shows QI and Fifteen To One, will host a new Channel 4 series called The Write Offs, which looks at the issue of adult literacy.
Toksvig is thought to have received £200,000 per series for Bake Off, and claimed in January 2018 that she was the highest paid star on the programme.
Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding star on Channel 4 programme The Great British Bake Off
Toksvig (rear left) with fellow Bake Off stars Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding and Prue Leith
Co-star Noel Fielding said: ‘I feel like Tom without Jerry ! Mick without a Keef 🙁 gonna miss yooooooooooooooooo and the wonderful times we got to play together in the tent ! Double acts are rare and magical beast and working with you was a pleasure x x x all my love Mr Noel x’
Toksvig said: ‘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.
‘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.
Sandi Toksvig with her wife Debbie at The Royal Academy Of Arts Summer Exhibition preview party in London on June 4, 2019
‘Spending time with Prue, Paul and Noel has been one of the great pleasures of my life. These are friendships which I know will continue beyond the confines of television.
‘Bake Off is a wonderful programme which has already proved it can happily withstand a change of hosting personnel.
‘The reason for that, of course, is that the true stars of the show are the bakers themselves. I wish everyone well.’
Toksvig has fronted the programme alongside Fielding and judges Hollywood and Leith since 2017 after it moved to Channel 4 from BBC One.
Toksvig, Fielding and Leith joined the show when previous presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, and judge Mary Berry, quit following the channel move.
Hollywood is the only original star of Bake Off, which started on BBC Two in 2010.
Toksvig said in a statement that ‘spending time with Prue, Paul and Noel has been one of the great pleasures of my life’
Bake Off judge Prue Leith tweeted: ‘I have absolutely loved working with Sandi, she’s been a brilliant host and enormous fun and I am in awe of how hard she works juggling so many different projects. We shall be lifelong friends’ way beyond the tent. #GBBO #sanditoksvig’
Paul Hollywood paid tribute to Toksvig in an Instagram post, with a picture of the four stars
Fielding tweeted today: ‘I feel like Tom without Jerry ! Mick without a Keef 🙁 gonna miss yooooooooooooooooo and the wonderful times we got to play together in the tent!
Who is the favourite to replace Sandi Toksvig?
Nadiya Hussain wins Bake Off in 2015
- Nadiya Hussain 2-1
- Susan Calman 3-1
- Davina McCall 4-1
- Rachel Riley 6-1
- Jo Brand 6-1
- Noel Edmonds 8-1
- Rylan Clarke-Neal 10-1
- Clare Balding 12-1
‘Double acts are rare and magical beast and working with you was a pleasure x x x all my love Mr Noel x’
Leith tweeted: ‘I have absolutely loved working with Sandi, she’s been a brilliant host and enormous fun and I am in awe of how hard she works juggling so many different projects.
‘We shall be lifelong friends way beyond the tent. #GBBO #sanditoksvig.’
Hollywood also paid tribute to Toksvig. He said: ‘It’s been great fun working with Sandi. We will miss her but I hope that she will get time to visit us in the tent when we film later this year. She will always be part of the Bake Off family.’
Bookmaker Coral said 2015 Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain is the 2-1 favourite to replace Toksvig, followed by Scottish comedian Susan Calman at 3-1.
Also said to be in the running are Davina McCall at 4-1, Rachel Riley and Jo Brand both at 6-1, Noel Edmonds at 8-1, Rylan Clarke-Neal at 10-1 and Clare Balding 12-1.
Channel 4 reportedly paid £75million to take Bake Off from the BBC in 2017.
How Sandi Toksvig was one of the first women on British TV to come out publicly as gay
Toksvig in London at an event on Monday
Sandi Toksvig was born in Copenhagen in 1958 and spent much of her childhood in New York where her father Claus worked as a foreign correspondent for Danish television.
She gained first-class honours in law, archaeology and anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge, where she took part in the Footlights revue with Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson.
In 1994 she became one of the first women on British TV to come out publicly as gay, prompting her bosses to say she would ‘never work again’.
She had three children with her ex-partner Peta Stewart, who carried the babies using sperm from a donor, before they split in 1997.
She was then with fellow broadcaster Alice Arnold, who is now married to her fellow TV presenter Clare Balding, before starting a relationship with psychotherapist Debbie.
They joined in a civil partnership in 2007 before marrying in December 2014, and live together on a houseboat in Wandsworth, South London.
Before taking on the role on Bake Off, Sandi was probably best known for replacing Stephen Fry as the host of the comedy quiz show QI.
However, she had already been a contestant on the show and appearing on Call My Bluff, Mock The Week and Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
She also spent nine years at the helm of The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4, before handing the reins over to comedian Miles Jupp in 2015.
In 2018, Toksvig revealed she was paid less than half of Fry’s fee for hosting QI – despite asking for equal pay when she took over the job. Fry was estimated to earn about £245,000.
Toksvig, who was awarded an OBE for services to broadcasting in 2014, has written more than 20 books for children and adults, and a series of plays which have run in the West End.
She has previously admitted that losing four stone, which saw her drop from dress size 22 to 12 – gave her the confidence to move from radio to TV.
Toksvig is thought to have received £200,000 per series for Bake Off, and claimed she was the highest paid star on the programme in January 2018.
Viewing figures are down from the 13million people who watched the show on BBC One, but a healthy average of 6.9million tuned in for the most recent final last October whch saw David Atherton crowned the winner.
Channel 4 had previously said it wanted between five to seven million viewers, and needed to attract at least three million viewers per episode to break even.
Ian Katz, Channel 4’s director of programmes, said: ‘Sandi is a huge part of why Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 has been such a success and we are immensely grateful for her contribution to the show.
‘We will miss her warmth and wit, not to mention her endless willingness to be the butt of jokes about being the least tall person in the Bake Off tent.
‘Fortunately, her unique voice will continue to have an important presence on the channel with new shows in development – none of which involve cake.’
A post from the official Bake Off Instagram account confirmed that Toksvig will appear in the upcoming series of The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off before her departure from the show.
‘All pud things come to an end,’ the post said. ‘The upcoming series of The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off will mark the end of Sandi’s magnificent stint as a presenter on the show.
‘We would like to thank her for all the wonderful memories and wish her the very best for the future. #GBBO.’
Miss Toksvig, whose wife Debbie is a psychotherapist, became one of the first women on British TV to come out publicly as gay in 1994, prompting her bosses to say that she would ‘never work again’.
She had three children with her ex-partner Peta Stewart, using sperm from a donor, before they split in 1997.
She has often discussed her love of food, but radically changed her eating habits in 2014 when she lost four stone to shrunk from a size 22 to a size 10.
Richard McKerrow, chief creative officer and executive producer for Bake Off’s production company Love Productions, said: ‘We’ll always be incredibly grateful to Sandi for becoming one of the hosts of Bake Off when we moved to Channel 4, along with Noel, Paul and Prue.
‘She has contributed hugely to Bake Off over the last three years, with her sharp witty sense of humour and her passionate commitment to the dozens of bakers during her time in the tent.
‘We wish her all the very best on the exciting projects she is currently working on and beyond.’
‘I’ve heard Meghan is free!’ Bake Off fans speculate over Sandi Toksvig’s Bake Off replacement as bookies make Nadiya Hussain favourite while others call for Dawn French or Richard Ayoade
Channel 4 has begun the search for Sandi Toksvig’s replacement after she said she is leaving The Great British Bake Off after three years as a presenter.
Nadiya Hussain, Jo Brand and Richard Ayoade are among the favourites after Toksvig said she wants to leave the show to focus on other work projects.
Channel 4 has said candidates ‘must have experience of mopping up spills and the occasional tear, making tea and keeping the amateur bakers to time’.
Other potential hosts include Joe Lycett, Jenny Ryan, Liam Charles, Davina McCall, Noel Edmonds, Rylan Clarke-Neal and Rachel Riley.
Also put forward for the position are Clare Balding, French and Saunders, Miriam Margolyes and even Fielding’s Mighty Boosh co-star Julian Barratt.
Here are some of the celebrities who could be in line for a role on the show:
– Nadiya Hussain
After winning the show in 2015, Hussain has gone on to carve out a successful broadcasting and food-writing career.
She landed her own TV series, including The Chronicles Of Nadiya and Nadiya’s British Food Adventure, and has become a household name.
Hussain was also awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours for services to broadcasting and to the culinary arts.
– Jo Brand
Brand, who has fronted the baking show’s spin-off Extra Slice, could be in line for a role on the main programme.
When Bake Off moved from the BBC to Channel 4, Brand was the odds-on favourite to front the series, according to William Hill.
Back in 2013, Brand also appeared on the Comic Relief version of the show.
– Richard Ayoade
Comedian and filmmaker Ayoade has a history of hosting Channel 4 programmes – having presented Crystal Maze, Travel Man and Gadget Man.
He has also racked up a number of TV appearances alongside existing Bake Off host Noel Fielding on the Big Fat Quiz Of The Year and Gadget Man.
– Joe Lycett
A former contestant on the Great Celebrity Bake Off, comedian Lycett may also be considered for the role.
He also has experience of working with Channel 4 after being named as Ayoade’s replacement on Travel Man after appearing as a guest on the show.
– Jenny Ryan
The Chase star has thrown her hat into the ring to succeed Toksvig on Bake Off.
Following the announcement that a vacancy has appeared on the show, she tweeted: ‘I like cakes. I like biscuits. I like bread. I like tents. Just putting that out there.’
– Liam Charles
Former Bake Off contestant Charles, who has also been a judge on the programme’s junior spin-off, could be considered as a replacement for Toksvig.
While he did not win the competition, Charles proved a hit with fans of the show and was subsequently handed his own six-part series titled Liam Bakes.
– Davina McCall
Big Brother presenter Davina McCall, currently working as a judge on The Masked Singer, could also be considered for the role.
She has hosted various TV shows from The Million Pound Drop to The Jump and Five Minutes to a Fortune to Long Lost Family.
When linked with the role in 2016, she claimed she couldn’t take it on, saying: ‘No! I’m sugar free! I can’t do it, can you imagine me when someone says ‘try this cake’, oh it’s got sugar in it. Do something sugar free!’
– Rachel Riley
Mathematician Rachel Riley is among the favourites for the role, having worked on Channel 4’s Countdown for more than a decade.
The Strictly Come Dancing contestant has also co-presented 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and The Gadget Show.
She went on maternity leave from television ahead of the birth of her daughter Maven last month.
– Noel Edmonds
Deal Or No Deal presenter Noel Edmonds, who rose to fame with Mr Blobby on BBC variety show Noel’s House Party, might also be considered for the role.
He has hosted a wide range of programmes over a career which began with him hosting Top of the Pops in 1970 after working as a DJ for BBC Radio 1.
– Rylan Clarke-Neal
Rylan Clark-Neal, who found fame on The X Factor and later won Celebrity Big Brother, will present the rebooted Ready Steady Cook on the BBC this year.
He has also hosted Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, This Morning and The Xtra Factor – and the revived version of Supermarket Sweep.
Clark-Neal took part in a Bake Off show in aid of Stand Up To Cancer in March 2019 when he presented the judges with a cake that resembled dog excrement.
– Clare Balding
Sports presenter Clare Balding has previously quashed rumours over her being considered for the Bake Off role, but could now be considered again.
The 48-year-old has worked for Channel 4 as a horse racing and Paralympics presenter, and also presented on BBC Sport and BT Sport.
In September 2016, she said, saying: ‘It’s absolutely hysterical and of course I’m flattered, but it’s funny. I wouldn’t be interested in presenting it. I like watching it – why would I want to be presenting it? I can’t cook.’
– French and Saunders
The French & Saunders sketch comedy double act of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have also been put forward for the role.
French is also known for starring in BBC comedy The Vicar of Dibley, while Saunders was in the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.
Saunders took part in a Comic Relief special of Bake Off in 2015 in which she won Star Baker with a tiered chocolate cake.
In March 2017 it was claimed that the double act turned down a £2.5million offer to host Bake Off.
– Miriam Margolyes
Actress Miriam Margolyes, who played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, has also been put forward for the Bake Off role.
Among the other movies she is known for is Romeo + Juliet in 1996, while she was also a voice artist in the 2001 film Cats and Dogs.
– Julian Barratt
Some social media users have suggested Julian Barratt should be involved in Bake Off, after working with Noel Fielding in surreal comedy show The Mighty Boosh.
Barratt has also been involved in various TV series over the last few years including Flowers, Killing Eve and Sally4Ever.
And here is what people on social media are saying about the replacement today: