'Great British Baking Show' contestants reveal the worst parts about competing on the series

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Competing on the show can be uncomfortable and stressful at times.BBC; Channel 4; Marianne Ayala/Insider
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  • We spoke to past "Great British Baking Show" bakers about the worst parts of being on the series.

  • Shooting days take up to 12 hours, and some bakers compete while working their regular jobs.

  • For continuity, contestants have to wear the same "stinky" clothes the entire weekend of filming.

Watching "The Great British Baking Show" is a fun experience for viewers, but former competitors say baking delicious treats in the English countryside isn't always as glamorous as it seems.

The series, known as "The Great British Bake Off" in the UK, gives home bakers the chance to put their skills to the test, but the jump to international TV can be jarring.

Insider spoke with several former contestants from a variety of seasons about their least favorite parts of competing on "Bake Off."

The cameras are constantly in the bakers' faces, even during emotional moments

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Stacey Hart on season eight of "The Great British Baking Show."Channel 4

There isn't a lot of privacy when you're competing on one of the UK's most popular shows.

Season eight's Stacey Hart told Insider that she usually didn't mind the cameras, but there were some stressful and emotional moments when she wished she could shoo them away.

"When I made big mistakes they were right in my face. Like, really? Could you not give me some space? Show me a bit of compassion?" she said. "They're right in your face when you make a mistake like, 'How are you feeling right now?' Well, not good, actually."

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Ali Imdad on season four of "Bake Off."BBC Two

According to season-four baker Ali Imdad, it can take extreme measures to have a moment of privacy while filming the show.

The week he was sent home, he said he had to run out of the tent so the cameras couldn't record him crying.

"I was like, 'No I am not going to be on camera crying. You do not know the area that I'm from. You do not get caught crying on camera,'" he told Insider. "So I literally ran out the tent, and naturally they ran out the tent with me. But because Paul Hollywood was there smoking I stood next to him knowing that they wouldn't film him."

Contestants have become subject to online trolling and bullying when the show airs

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Being on national TV opens contestants up to online scrutiny.Channel 4

Anyone who's in the public eye will inevitably face internet criticism, but for Hart, her experience on "Bake Off" led to some traumatic online bullying.

"I had some horrible trolling after that really, really affected me and my family," she told Insider.

She explained that her experience has made it hard for her to watch the show.

"I had a lot of lovely, lovely fans, and I still do, but unfortunately you don't remember those," she continued. "You remember the ones who are nasty and call you a 's--- baker,' 'rubbish at this,' 'c--- at that,' 'wish she'd leave.'"

She continued, "There's always somebody who gets that, and my year there were two of us, and I got it the worst. It was horrible."

Season-seven baker Rav Bansal agreed that being vulnerable to the negative opinions of the public was the worst part of being on the show.

"The public scrutiny, online trolling, and press intrusion that comes along with being on the most-watched TV show in the country can be exceedingly difficult to navigate," he told Insider. "But luckily the production team were always there supporting us."

The application process is long and complicated

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Rav Bansal competed on season seven.BBC One

Getting on "The Great British Baking Show" is apparently no simple feat.

"The application process is rigorous, starting with the longest application form in the history of forms," Bansal told Insider. "Followed by several interviews, auditions, meetings, and finally receiving a phone call confirming your place on the show." 

Season nine's Antony Amourdoux explained that hopefuls must give extremely detailed responses about their knowledge of baking during the interviews and phone calls.

"They go through some real technical stuff. What is the difference between a normal sponge and a genoise sponge? Different kinds of meringues and the temperatures you use for them. It's quite hard," he said. "There are easily eight rounds of interviews in this entire process."

Amourdoux also explained that contestants who pass this round have an on-camera screen test that mimics the production style of the show followed by more interviews with the show's producers.

After all that, Imdad added, "They narrow it down to about 20 or 30 to see a psychologist to see if you could handle the fame that might come from it. From there they'll widdle it down to 12 or 13."

Actually competing on a show is often stressful and exhausting

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Antony Amourdoux competed on season nine of "Bake Off."Channel 4

Amourdoux told Insider that the shooting days are extremely long and strenuous.

"When you start you're there for a good 12 hours," he said. "You start early in the morning and it ends a little after six or seven in the evening."

In between shooting days, Amourdox said contestants often practice their bakes, leaving practically no days off.

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Tom Hetherington competed on season eight of "Bake Off."Channel 4

Unlike many baking competition shows, "The Great British Baking Show" is typically filmed on the weekends, allowing contestants to go home between episodes if they wish.

For contestants who choose to work their regular job during their season, this can get extremely tiring.

"I'd film on Sunday and go back to the hotel and wake up for the red-eye flight from London to Edinburgh on Monday morning and go straight to my job," season eight's Tom Hetherington told Insider.

He said it was even more challenging because contestants aren't allowed to tell anyone they're filming the show.

" ... I just had to go to work and pretend I was A-OK," Hetherington added."Then Friday I would get on a plane and do it all over again. It was one of the most exhausting periods of my life."

Even for those who aren't traveling to and from home or working, the experience can still be daunting.

"There are extreme time pressures, 14 cameramen and sound crew staring at you whilst you're trying to do it," Hetherington said. "My day job was very stressful, so I thought I could handle the stress of the situation a little better than I did in reality."

The contestants have to wear the same 'stinky' clothes for the whole weekend of filming

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The contestants had to get creative to clean their stinky clothes between shooting days.Channel 4

Each episode of "Bake Off" takes place over two days of filming, but fans have been quick to point out that the contestants are always wearing the same clothes and accessories the entire time.

"We do have to wear the same clothes, unfortunately," Amourdoux told Insider. "You are sweating in those clothes and you're proper stinky."

He explained that the bakers wear the same outfits for all of the weekend's challenges and interviews for continuity reasons, and that eventually, some fellow contestants started bringing duplicates of their outfits.

"If only they did provide a dry-cleaning service for us, things would be much easier," Bansal added. "Some of us had to resort to washing our clothes in the hotel bathtub, praying they will dry in time for the next day of filming."

The bakers are cut off from their families and the outside world while they're filming

Hart told Insider that the contestants on her season weren't allowed to have their phones at all during shooting days.

"In fact, my son broke his arm one day and I didn't know," she said. "I was really upset that I couldn't contact my family throughout the day. But that was only because it was the first time they did it on Channel 4, a different station, so they were really careful that no photos got leaked."

The baker also added that because of the nondisclosure agreement she signed, her kids couldn't even know she was leaving every weekend to film the show.

"I told them I was doing a course," she said. "They would tell the world, my kids, they couldn't keep that secret."

Read the original article on Insider