It’s officially the Christmas season, which means it’s time for the best season of TV — the holiday special season. And what show could better encapsulate the wholesome festivity of a holiday special than “The Great British Baking Show”? Fans of the show were blessed with season 3 of “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays,” an uplifting holiday special featuring two new entertaining episodes.
While season 3 was actually released in the UK last year, it’s the first time American viewers get to see Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith sport ugly sweaters and eat Christmas themed cake pops. The special features two hour-long episodes, with the first episode being Christmas themed, and the second being a sort of ambiguous holiday episode — but rest assured, the festive vibes are present throughout.
The first episode features four contestants from previous seasons — Tom, Yan, Terry and Briony — who are all looking to redeem themselves from their previous performances. As always, the show does a great job of creating a competitive atmosphere without stress, making for an entertaining yet relaxing experience. Since the episode features four contestants rather than starting with 12 like regular seasons do, the show feels even more intimate and familial. The Christmas themed challenges and Christmas decorations around the baking tent make the regular formula of the show feel more special, resulting in an episode that’s pretty much the same as the others, just with sprinkles on top. This is to be expected though, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
On top of this, the second episode is particularly special. For the first time, rather than inviting previous contestants of the show back, “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays” features the stars of “Derry Girls,” a popular Netflix show about girls growing up in Northern Ireland during the ’90s. “Derry Girls” commonly features the characters cursing each other out and having notoriously sassy attitudes, so it was amusing to watch the actors be very sweet to each other during the challenges. It was interesting to see famous people take on the show’s baking challenges, and the group’s history of working together made the atmosphere feel immediately familiar, even to an outside viewer. I personally haven’t seen more than a few episodes of “Derry Girls” but I loved watching the cast interact, and their chemistry was palpable. Rather than being explicitly Christmas-themed, the episode feels like watching a group of friends prepare for a holiday party.
You don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this season, and honestly if you’ve never watched any of “The Great British Baking Show” before, this special is a great opportunity to give it a taste. In this season of appreciating loved ones, warmth, good food and baked goods, there’s no better show to watch to get into the spirit. Be careful though, because you might find yourself entering a season-long binge.
Daily Arts Writer Sarah Rahman can be reached at email@example.com.