Great British Bake Off’s Prue Leith, 80, pulls out of junior version over coronavirus fears

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PRUE Leith is as essential to The Great British Bake Off as butter is to a Victoria Sponge.

But while her involvement in the main series was in doubt because of Covid-19, I can now reveal she has had to pull out of the junior version instead.

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My sources say there were concerns about her health given the fact that at 80, she is in the vulnerable category — and that children were impossible to fully quarantine ahead of filming.

It begs the question as to who will replace her as a judge alongside former contestant Liam Charles.

The new series of Channel 4’s Junior Bake Off, which has already begun filming, will again be hosted by Harry Hill.

A source said: “Producers realised that under-16s were essentially impossible to quarantine in the same way you would adults, so to be on the safe side Prue is only going to do the main series.

“Production has already started up and cameras will begin rolling very soon.

“It’s not yet been confirmed who will join Liam as a judge, if anyone.”

A production source added: “With Covid-19 causing headaches for filming schedules Prue could only do either the main series or the junior version, so she had to make a choice.”

On GBBO, Prue will again team up with fellow judge Paul Hollywood, but host Noel Fielding has a new partner, with Matt Lucas replacing Sandi Toksvig.

Yesterday it was confirmed both Bake Off shows would go ahead — despite concerns over obtaining insurance because of Prue’s age.

Gary Davey, the CEO of Sky Studios — owner of Love Productions who make the show — said work on the upcoming series is “going very well”.

And the firm’s chief commercial officer Jane Millichip said: “It’s all happening in secret, somewhere in darkest, deepest Britain in the shires.”

That massive white tent can’t hide for much longer . . . 

I WOULD imagine being the child of a pop star brings with it great expectations if you go near a microphone.

But Kerry Katona’s daughter Heidi proved she has inherited her mum’s musical ability in this Saturday’s The Voice Kids.

Heidi, 13, who was 12 when she did the show, wowed judges Pixie Lott, Paloma Faith, Danny Jones and Will.i.am with her rendition of Macy Gray’s I Try – then revealed her mum is a former Atomic Kitten. 

She should’ve done Whole Again.

IF you rely on crowd participation for part of your game show, social distancing was always going to present a problem.

As I told you last month, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? bosses are doing away with the ask the audience lifeline and giving contestants two phone a friend options instead.

Host Jeremy Clarkson said: “I suggested a second ‘ask the host’ option.

“The producers decided that would be unwise, despite my vast knowledge of the Volkswagen Scirocco MK1 and MK2. 

“Everything else is exactly the same – 15 questions, £1million.”

The series, being shot now in Manchester, will also have partitions between contestants in the fastest finger first round.

PHOEBE Waller-Bridge is to be reunited with “hot priest” Andrew Scott in the upcoming new episodes of His Dark Materials.

The fantasy drama returns for a second series later this year, with Andrew playing Colonel John Parry and Phoebe providing a voice cameo as his soul daemon, an osprey called Sayan Kötör.

Before his new role in the BBC1 adaptation of Philip Pullman’s cult novels, Andrew was best known as the priestly object of Phoebe’s lust in her Beeb comedy Fleabag.

The pair are not the only big names joining the cast.

Stage and screen veteran Terence Stamp is the programme’s latest signing, playing Giacomo Paradisi, the bearer of the saga’s Subtle Knife.

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