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Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by Stefanie Hutson
Most of us are familiar with Mary Berry because she judged The Great British Baking Show alongside Paul Hollywood for six years. When The Great British Baking Show was being developed, Berry was the first choice to judge the competition – and for great reason.
In 2014, Mary Berry said: “It’s wonderful. I count my blessings every day. I love the whole team, because being ancient I get terribly well looked after” (The Guardian).
But after seven seasons, she decided to leave the show at its absolute peak. In 2015 and 2016, it was BBC One's most watched show, with over 16 million watching the finale of season 7 in October 2016. Mary Berry's final appearance as judge was the 2016 Christmas Specials.
Who is Mary Berry?
Dame Mary Berry was born in 1935 in Bath, England where her family “had a vegetable plot and kept a goat, pigs, and chickens” (Radio Times). Despite growing up during WWII and spending three months in hospital due to polio at age 13, she still enjoyed some privilege: Her father was the mayor of Bath in 1952 and she was privately educated at Royal High School Bath. She studied catering and shipping management at college and then when she was 22, Mary went to France to study at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school.
She became food editor of Housewife magazine in 1966 and then she was food editor of Ideal Home magazine from 1970 to 1973. Mary Berry's first cookbook came out in 1970 and she has since published more than 75 books, including an autobiography. Her most popular cookbook is Mary Berry's Baking Bible with over 250 recipes. So, she definitely has the perfect background to judge a national baking competition show.
Where Can I Watch Mary Berry?
Since she left The Great British Baking Show, there's been a bit of a void. Mary's footsteps are hard to fill. But luckily, in addition to more than 75 published books, she also has several shows you can stream and enjoy….
Britain's Best Home Cook
Britain's Best Home Cook is a bit like The Great British Baking Show but for overall cooking. It also stars Mary Berry as a judge. Berry is joined by Chris Bavin and Angela Hartnett. Claudia Winkleman hosts. Stream Britain's Best Home Cook on Hulu HERE.
Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking
If you want recipes that are quick, straightforward, and uncomplicated, this series is for you. Recipes include Thai chicken curry, fruit salad with whipped goat's cheese, salmon and herb coulibiac, and a gateau. Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking is streaming for free with ads on Tubi HERE.
Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites
In this series, Mary Berry shows you how to make her absolute favourite recipes. It features quaint, delicate music and great shots of food. Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites is streaming for free with ads on Tubi HERE.
Classic Mary Berry
Mary Berry puts her spin on classic recipes, highlighting her own style and skill. Recipes include Eggs Benedict Florentine, drop scones, beef burgers, onion soup, banoffee pie, and more. She even visits Port Isaac in episode five (the village where Doc Martin is filmed). Available for free with ads on IMDb TV HERE.
Mary Berry's Country House Secrets
Through the lens of food, Mary Berry explores the history of the UK's stately homes. Her first stop? Highclere Castle. You'll recognise it from Downton Abbey. Mary Berry's Country House Secrets is available on BritBox HERE.
Why Did Mary Berry Leave The Great British Baking Show?
Mary Berry left The Great British Baking Show out of loyalty to the BBC. When the show moved from the BBC to another network, Channel 4, she decided to stay with the BBC.
The hilarious hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins decided not to continue on, either. Rupert Penry-Jones, who voiced the relaxing narration, also did not make the move to Channel 4.
In an excellent interview with Radio Times (which you can read HERE), Mary said:
“I avoided being asked [to join Channel 4]. It was suggested what would happen if I did go to Channel 4; what I would get, the advantages. But I didn’t ever have a meeting with them. I’d made up my mind. To me it’s an honour to be on the BBC. I was brought up on it.”
The Great British Baking Show is produced by Love Productions. When the BBC offered Love Productions £15 million to recommission the show, they did not want to accept an offer below £25 million. After a year of talks, Love Productions decided to take an offer by rival network Channel 4 instead. In a statement, the BBC said:
“Working with Love Productions, we have grown and nurtured the programme over seven series and created the huge hit it is today. We made a very strong offer to keep the show but we are a considerable distance apart on the money. The BBC's resources are not infinite.”
Still, at least the show goes on and we are able to not only enjoy The Great British Baking Show, but also many new shows starring Mary Berry such as Britain's Best Home Cook which follows a similar competition format.
Dame Mary Berry's enduring legacy is larger than her stint on The Great British Baking Show and extends to over 75 books, over 60 credited TV appearances in 50 years, and of course the honour of Dame of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
So, if you're missing her on The Great British Bake Off (the British name for the series), be sure to check out her other shows and her books!