The line-up for the new series of The Great British Bake Off has been announced - and is comprised of 13 amateur bakers rather than the usual 12.

The baker's dozen of hopefuls includes seven people in their 20s while the oldest contestant is 56, with an average age of 31 in the tent.

In previous years there have been contestants in their 60s and 70s, and the majority of line-ups have had an average age closer to 40.

There are usually 12 amateurs in the Bake Off each year, with the exception of 2013 when 13 took part, and the first series in 2010 when there were just 10.

The aspiring bakers will be competing to impress judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood across a series of challenges where they will be tasked with baking cakes, biscuits and breads among other tasty creations in a bid to be named Bake Off champion.

The upcoming series, which kicks off next week, will be the third to air on Channel 4 after the show parted ways with the BBC.

The bakers includes two with links to Essex.


Basildon Standard:

Age: 28

Job: Geography teacher

Bio: Alice grew up in a riverside town in Essex. She started baking at the age of 15 when a back operation for scoliosis left her unable to do sport. She lived in New Zealand in her early 20s, where she studied art and also perfected the art of a pavlova, before returning to the UK to become a geography teacher. She now uses her cakes in her lessons, demonstrating natural events such as coastal erosion and volcanic activity with her edible creations.

Baking style: She is keen on intricate and delicate bakes, full of flavour and enthusiasm and aiming to impress.

She says: "I have wanted to be in Bake Off ever since the show has started, but I wasn't really good enough when I was 18. To be on such a big show doing something that you are passionate about is a huge thing. I also felt that to be accepted into the tent gave me the confidence to feel that I could bake. It was a dream come true!"


Basildon Standard:

Age: 56

Job: HGV driver

Lives: Essex

Bio: This year's oldest competitor, Phil took up baking seriously six years ago, but was always fond of baking bread in his home economics classes in his school days. Regularly baking four or five times a week, he focuses on breads such as focaccia, granary and brioche, but he also likes trying pastry and relishes the challenge of hot-water crust, puff and choux. Working early shifts as a driver means he is able to spend the rest of his day cooking for his wife and two daughters as well as baking treats for his motorcycle meetings with friends.

Baking style: A fan of breads in particular, he also spends time perfecting the art of decoration and piping, crafting delicately decorated cakes.

He says: "The most surprised (that I am in Bake Off) will be a couple who are long-term friends and they had been staying with us recently and said you make such wonderful cakes, but have never mentioned to me that I should go on Bake Off, so I think they haven't a clue that I would be in it."