TLDR: For all seasons of The Great British Baking Show bakers have used the Wusthof Ikon Classic Knives (Amazon Link). In the 2019 and 2020 seasons I spotted a 8-inch Zwilling Professional "S" Chef's Knife (Amazon Link).
Wusthof Classic IKON Knife Block, 7 Piece, Black, Stainless (Amazon Link)
The bakers on The Great British Baking Show have always had a set of Wusthof Ikon Classic knives on their counters. It appears that they have a pre-made set of knives in the block and then augment them with some specialty knives. The base set looks to be the 7 piece set which you can watch the bakers maim their pans with.
The base set includes:
The keen observer will notice that Wusthof seems to be going to the redesign of their Classic Ikon stamping on the blades. The older ones have the information and a red logo - while the newer ones seem to have just black text (you can see this in the Classic Ikon Catalogue on their site). Personally, I really like the older look.
In the most recent 2 seasons (2019 and 2020) I've also seen an 8-inch Zwilling Professional "S" Chef's Knife (Amazon Link)floating around. I'm not sure why they would have 1 off chefs knives, but with the way they treat them - it could have been a quick and easy replacement for the Wusthof.
This knife appears very similar to the 8-Inch J.A. Henckels International CLASSIC Chef's Knife (Amazon Link). However, the International Classic at 1/3 the price, lacks nearly all the finish the Professional "S" has! I'm happy to say I'm positive they have the Professional S.which include Wusthof is a fantastic knife manufacturer in Germany, founded in 1814. They produce some of the best chef's knives available and have lines from mid-priced to very expensive!
Wusthof makes knives! Period.
Since 1814 Wusthof has focused on making good knives. They're a German manufacturer and always targeted a mid to high grade audience making some of the best chef's knives that exist.
I imagine that buying a set of Wusthof knives for each counter was an upfront investment and assumed that the knives would last quite a few seasons and prove quite durable. Having seen them stick around for roughly 10 years of quite a bit of rough handling it seems like they were correct.
The appearance of the Zwilling knives in the last 2 seasons - and just the chef's knives makes me believe that the years of abuse finally caught up to the Wusthof Chef's knives. The replacement is with a comparable knife - as Zwilling makes some good knives as well.
But beware, while you're not going to find low grade Wusthof knives you will find some really low grade Zwilling JA Henckles knives (IMO). You can find these labeled under Henckles International Brand floating around at Target, Walmart, Ross's and what not. They look and feel cheap. They also go dull very quickly. If you're looking for a decent knife stay away from these.
WÜSTHOF Classic Ikon 8 Inch Chef’s Knife (Amazon Link)
Shun Premier 8 Inch Chefs Knife (Amazon Link)
So before you run out and throw down some serious cash for a set of knives lets hold up for one second!
Think about it - how many of your knives do you currently use? I bet you have 1 or 2 favorites / go-to's some other auxillary knives that get use every once and a while. While there is probably a pile of useless knives in the same drawer. They're taking up real estate in your kitchen doing nothing.
So before you upgrade think about what you need!
Personally I use my Shun 8" chef's knife daily. I also have a Calphalon santoku knife that gets quite a bit of use on chunkier things, a Shun paring knife that sees use quite frequently, and a Shun bread knife that is wonderful for bread! Beyond that I have a wonderful set of Wusthof steak knives my wife and I received as a wedding gift and that's it.
Everything is in constant use, nothing is just sitting around. (If you're wondering yes - I really do like the Japanese knives!)
So what if - instead of buying a big old set of knives - you start off slow and patient? Obviously you have a decent budget and probably a set of priorities about your knives. Tackle them in order.
I'd advocate for spending half your budget on the knife you're going to love using every day! Yes, it is an investment in enjoying your time in the kitchen. Every. Single. Day. Then find the other knives you feel you need and augment your set later.
How do you go about finding your dream knives? Go straight for the Wusthof Ikon Classic like they have on The Great British Baking Show? I'd advocate not. What about the Zwilling? Again no. What about -fill in the blank-. Again no.
I'd suggest finding a nice knife shop and go there. Hold the knives, look at them, feel the weight of them, feel out what is nicest in your hand! Have an affinity for that beautiful damascus knife? What about the one with the amazing handle? You'll only get the feel in person.
Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table (Though Covid closed a lot of Sur La Table's locations :( ) are both great for finding good quality knives and getting to see them in person. Various other specialty knife shops have sprung up in most major cities and are a wonderful resource, and a fun couple hours well spent, as well.
My A La Carte Collection
Wusthof WU5558 Kitchen Shears, 8 Inch, Black (Amazon Link)
The keen observer probably noticed the 'come apart kitchen shears' in the 7 piece set and every so now often used on the show.
The bakers on the Great British Baking Show's 'scissors' are the Wusthof kitchen shears (Amazon Link). I purchased a pair of these in 2014 and they are still AMAZING. For roughly $20 you're not going to find better shears.
The best things about these is they come apart! That means that when you cut food and it gets into the hinge, you can just take them apart and wash them! In fact they replaced a pair of my scissors I was cutting open Otter pops with that got into the hinge, gummed up, and then rusted SOLID.
I hope I've convinced you to go knife shopping. Find some knives that you love and build out a set you're going to use every day. Take your time and have fun! I will also implore you to get the Wusthof kitchen shears (Amazon)!