Who Were All Those Busts of on the Great British Bake-Off?

published Sep 30, 2020
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Great British Bake Off
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Spoiler alert: If you plan to watch this episode and don’t want to know what happens, don’t read!

As the days get shorter and the looming prospect of a long, cold season of more social isolation gives us little to look forward to, we are grateful for the return of one of the most heartwarming shows on television. The Great British Bake-Off came back to Netflix on Friday, and brought a little tart-shaped beacon of hope, brightness, and joy with it. We are once again reminded of the world that lives under the tent, where the biggest problems are soggy bottoms. 

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

This season’s premiere featured a moment emblematic of the show’s supportive, kind spirit: One of the contestants accidentally destroyed most of another bakers’ entry and — gasp — nothing happened. The judges simply judged around the mess. David, whose cakes were destroyed, told Sura, who knocked them over, that it was fine. The most painful part for the viewers was watching how little Sura was able to enjoy her own win in the challenge, knowing what she’d done. We do not deserve such lovely people.

The last segment of the show — the showstopper challenge — provided equally heartwarming moments, along with lots of laughs. But also, maybe, a little confusion. Each contestant was tasked with creating a cake shaped like a bust of a favorite celebrity or hero. Many of the people chosen were internationally recognized music stars or figures from history, but others were a little more obscure to American watchers. So to help you out we wanted to run through who exactly we saw in all of the beautiful cake tributes, slumping suave stars, and nebbish not-quite-nobodies.

Tom DeLonge: David, of the destroyed pineapple upside-down cakes, decided to create out of cake his musical hero, the lead singer of the band Blink-182.

Lupita Nyong’o: Hermine, whose skill at cake decoration shone in the signature challenge Battenburg cake, didn’t exactly rise to showstopper level in recreating the award-winning Kenyan actress from Us and Black Panther.

Freddie Mercury: Even after Laura’s version of the Queen lead singer sunk into himself because of soft cake, the mustache and jacket made it clear who he was.

Bob Marley: Linda’s Bob Marley, however, was the opposite. There are so many people, mythical creatures, or children’s play-doh creations you could have assumed this was. However, if she says it’s the Jamaican musician, then I guess that’s who it is?

Miss Lou: Although her poor cake creation got Loriea kicked off in this first episode, I’m still glad that she made her bust of Louise Bennett-Coverley, known as Miss Lou, because — even if for just a brief second — it brought attention to this wonderful Jamaican poet.

Louis Theroux: Lottie brought out the first of folks that might be completely mystifying to American audiences, making a cake tribute to a British filmmaker. While he is the son of American writer Paul Theroux, he’s best known for his work on BBC documentaries.

Bill Bryson: Makbul’s cake was a tribute to an American who just might be more famous in Britain, although his work as a travel writer crosses both sides of the pond. As a columnist in a British paper and having written extensively about Britain, Bryson’s work, like Notes from a Small Island, is much more widely known there than in his native country.

David Bowie: One might have thought that Bowie’s iconic painted face might be impossible to make unrecognizable, but Marc decided to press on and check just how far he could contort the British musician’s famous visage into a pudgy, lumpy, blob before it got confusing.

Charles Darwin: Perhaps the most impressive thing about Mark’s Darwin cake is that it allowed him to evolve beyond the first episode. The subtle, understated cake seemed to think that less was going to be more in communicating the famous naturalist’s image. 

Sir Chris Hoy: When Peter mentions who he plans to create his cake of and everyone just nods and plays along like it’s the most normal choice in the world, it feels a little odd. How can I be so dumb not to have ever heard of him? Well, his cake, while fine, was not quite detailed enough to give me the full picture of the world champion and Olympic medalist cyclist from Scotland, but thankfully there’s always Wikipedia to fill in the details.

Marie Antoinette: We are not here to question Rowan’s choice of celebrity hero, beyond nodding politely and laughing at the timing, given the state of the world and of course her famous (although potentially not quite accurate) quote of “Let them eat cake.”

David Attenborough: Sura’s choice of David Attenborough meant that while both Brits and Americans have likely heard of the man — and heard his voice — he wasn’t someone whose image would be immediately recognizable to Americans. The English naturalist and broadcaster’s famous voice comforts and amazes in the Planet Earth series, but his shows that have made it to the U.S. haven’t involved him being on camera. Not that it mattered what he actually looked like, once a little tent karma came back to Sura and the cake likeness took a tumble of its own.