The 14th series of the Great British Bake Off kicked off this week, featuring a talented line-up of amateur bakers.
One contestant catching everyone’s eye is Saku Chandrasekara, a 50-year-old intelligence analyst understood to work for Herefordshire Council. Originally from Sri Lanka, Saku incorporates traditional flavours of her heritage into her bakes, like curry spices and cinnamon.
Despite not having an oven until she was 18 in Sri Lanka, Saku took up baking in earnest after moving to the UK with her husband in 2003. “The most wonderful memory is about meeting fellow bakers, coming from all stages of life with a common passion for baking,” Saku said. “The big white tent, which was only a dream until then and meeting the crew, their love, support and encouraging words will never leave my memory.”
The first episode of the series already had its share of highs and lows. While some bakers were seen crouched by the ovens, obsessively watching their cakes, others like Saku managed to keep their cool.
Preply, a language learning platform, analysed the emotions expressed by contestants using Vokaturi software. Saku scored a low stress level of 76.2 out of 100, ranking her among the calmest in the group. Cristy, a mum and PA from East London, had the highest stress level at 98.5 out of 100.
Notably, Saku also scored third in happiness, earning a rare hug from judge Paul Hollywood. “Thank you very much for my special hug!” she exclaimed.
On the other hand, Nicky was the happiest contestant, scoring 32.2 out of 100.
Judges also had their emotions analysed. Alison Hammond, the new presenter replacing Matt Lucas, was lauded for her joyous debut and had the highest happiness score among the judges.
Paul Hollywood, known for his stern demeanour, showed a range of emotions, including anger and sadness, but scored the lowest in happiness.
Saku had more to say about her experience: “Another very special thing, I am not going to tell, which will stay in my heart forever.” She also mentioned her excitement in meeting the show’s hosts and judges in person.
“It felt crazy meeting them in person, making TikTok with Alison was even crazier,” she said.
The series, airing every Tuesday on Channel 4, will continue to feature judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.
One baker will be eliminated each week until a winner is crowned. With her calm composure and unique flavour profiles, Saku Chandrasekara is definitely one to watch this season.
Beyond the bakes, the emotional rollercoaster of the show is an aspect that has intrigued fans for years. This year, the emotional spectrum of contestants and judges alike has been put under the microscope, thanks to technological advances in emotion recognition software.
Such analyses not only provide a new layer of insight into the competition but could also potentially be used as predictors for the performance of contestants in future episodes.