The trailer for the upcoming series of The Great British Bake Off has been released by its new host, Channel 4, and it’s an all-singing, all-dancing, all-baked stop frame animation, filmed in-camera. Made by agency 4Creative, directed by animation studio Parabella and produced by Blinkink, the joyous musical ad is entirely dedicated to the TV show’s delicious subject.
“We knew we wanted to ‘bake’ an animation and take people to a warm and comforting place while blowing their eyeballs off their faces,” Mikey Please, co-founder of Parabella, tells It’s Nice That. “It’s a challenging dichotomy. The show’s about wholesome, ordinary moments and we wanted to conjure that feeling, but also bring something new and fun and Channel 4-ish.”
A team of bakers and animators worked together to create a cast of 335 baked characters, featuring everything from biscuits and cakes to loaves and profiteroles, given little faces to sing along to Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus’ We all stand together. “Once we settled on the Frog song, a lot of ideas fell into place, celebrating Britain and togetherness, and the unifying force of baking.”
The 60-second animation charts the baking process, starting with the ingredients: a pile of flour with a craggy face is smacked with an egg, and the bubbles in a bowl of mixture surface to create a face. Then, dollops and twists of dough join in, and start to rise. A choir of croissants sing hand-in-hand, a group of individual cake slices roll to gather into a full wheel, and a vol-au-vent gets overexcited and leaks/vomits. 500 eggs, 50kg of flour and 28kg of sugar was used in the making of the advert, which Blinkink has coined a “bake-mation”.
“Pretty much everything you see on camera is edible. That we used real cake, icing and bread, lent the film a crusty authenticity. It also meant that stuff crumbled, sunk in the oven, went too soggy, went too hard. Turns out bake-mation is similar to stop motion animation in that it’s riddled with little hiccups that become central to the final piece.”
“It was all about experimenting with material and seeing what they naturally wanted to do,” Mikey continues. “Thumb prints in marzipan, crumbs on the worktop, burnt edges of pasties, it all stayed in the film. Eventually, we decided to go the whole hog and even leave the animators hands in. Why not. It’s always the best bit of a ‘making of’.”
Of all the characters, the pretzel is Mikey’s favourite. “He was based on a design by Bryony May Smith, who worked with us on the pitch. We’ve gone through so many characters, but this little guy made it all the way from start to end and we were expecting him to die at any moment. But he kept hanging in there. Just like us. Though you’ll have to squint to spot him. Right before we enter the bread crowd you’ll see him waddling along, with a one-legged mate. Hero.”
The final outcome, in Mikey’s own words, is “an homage to all things great and British and baked. A celebration of broken, imperfect things. Of togetherness despite differences. Of weirdos. Of home. The over the top efforts that people go to in order to make a really fancy pants cake”.
The film launches today 3 August on Channel 4, during half time of the Women’s Euros 2017 semi-final.