The Great British Bake Off Christmas special 2016: A final rise for our favourite foursome

The Great Christmas Bake Off airs Christmas Day at 4.45pm with Paul Hollywood, Sue Perkins, Mary Ber

The Great Christmas Bake Off airs Christmas Day at 4.45pm with Paul Hollywood, Sue Perkins, Mary Berry and Mel Giedroyc (Picture: Photographer: Mark Bourdillon) - Credit: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon

Forget soggy bottoms, it'll be soggy tissues as we prepare for the very last time that the quintessential quartet of baking are together on one television programme.

Our four Christmas Bakers: Howard, Chetna, James and Janet (Picture: BBC Photographer: Tom Graham)

Our four Christmas Bakers: Howard, Chetna, James and Janet (Picture: BBC Photographer: Tom Graham) - Credit: BBC/Love Productions/Tom Graham

Hang the flag at half-mast, slip into your most funereal attire (if it still fits after Christmas lunch) and get ready for the last Great British Bake Off on BBC1.

The show has been given a fittingly fabulous slot in the post-lunch slot when sitting on a sofa is the only option you have, other than exploding.

The first of two episodes will air on Christmas Day at 4.45pm followed by a second helping on Boxing Day at 7pm. The famous tent will then be packed away and sent to Channel 4 ready for Paul to stand in it alone. Sob.

Four former Bake Off contestants are back to bake – including Howard, Cathryn, Chetna, James, Ali, Norman and Janet - and will be competing in some Christmas-themed challenges which will then be judged by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

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Hosted by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, the contestants will make festive cakes, breads and biscuits in order to impress Mary and Paul all over again.

Although the hosts all promise to be wearing Christmas jumpers, it is uncertain whether or not festive knitwear is enough to compensate for the dissolution of the team that have brought us BBC1's top-rated show.

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Viewers' excitement at Bake Off being back will mingle with mourning as the Hollywood/Berry judging panel makes its last pronouncement after seven series and fans say farewell to GBBO as we know it.

The Great British Break Off was the biggest TV news of the year as it was announced that Mary Berry would step down as a judge and Mel and Sue would leave their roles after the production company behind the show sold it to rival Channel 4.

'My decision to stay with the BBC is out of loyalty to them as they have nurtured me and the show. I am just sad for the audience who may not be ready for change,' said Mary.

'I wish the programme, crew and future bakers every possible success and I am so very sad not to be part of it. Farewell to soggy bottoms.'

Paul, who originally trained as a sculptor until his baker father persuaded him to change careers, said that he felt unwilling to leave the show behind.

'It's been a huge part of my life in the past few years and I just couldn't turn my back on all that – the bakers themselves, the bakes, the teams that makes it and of cours the tent, the bunting and who could forget…the squirrels,' he said.

'So I am delighted that I will be continuing as a judge when Bake Off moves to Channel 4. I want to thank the BBC and Mel and Sue for making my time in the tent great fun and really rewarding.'

Fifteen million viewers tune in to Bake Off and more are expected to watch the BBC's swansong at Christmas. It remains to be seen whether the show can transplant to a rival channel or whether Mary, Mel and Sue's rumoured BBC cookery competition will hit the same sweet spot as GBBO.

In the meantime, let's carry the cake tin to the sofa and say goodbye in style.

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