Why The Great British Bake Off will always go down a treat.
I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to reality TV. Most shows are formulaic money-spinners, relying on sob stories and pretty faces in order to give the contestants their five minutes of fame. I’m a little more forgiving of the ones that show some variety – Britain’s Got Talent has some incredible acts at times – but they still take themselves too seriously.
Bake Off is different. It’s humble. It doesn’t need a huge stage and a studio audience in order to please its viewers; it makes do with a tent in a field, a handful of mild-mannered contestants, and a quintessentially British commentary filled with innuendos and bad puns. It’s just so… charming.
It’s the kind of show that would be bullied by all the other shows for wearing hand-me-downs and liking classical music. It’s the type of programme to reward their winners with gold stars instead of cash prizes. Whilst the producers of The X Factor spend their weekends bathing in money and booking holidays to Dubai, I imagine the creators of GBBO just stay in with their knitting club.
And I’m hooked on it.
I never thought I’d find myself saying things like, “I’m so pumped to find out what type of bread Marjory’s going to crack out today”, or “Wow, Nigel’s sugar work is on point”. I just can’t help it. It’s addictive.
Every single element of the show is so well balanced. For me, the main selling point is that the contestants aren’t the usual fame-hungry types that you see on Come Dine With Me, or the desperate D-List celebrities of Strictly Come Dancing. They’re just average folks with a lot of passion for baking, who will happily help out their fellow competitors. On top of that, the judges have a very limited screen presence, and allow the focus to be on the actual purpose of the programme. And of course, no reality TV show would be complete without comedic presenters offering witty commentary – but even that is done well! Mel and Sue are cheesy without being annoying, but also genuinely supportive of the bakers. Plus, who doesn’t love a tongue-in-cheek remark about soggy bottoms or a suggestive comment on the size of somebody’s nuts?
Bake Off triumphs where so many others have failed. It appeals to all age groups, it’s funny and, above all else, it is educational. I wouldn’t have known a soufflé from a Swiss roll before I started watching this. Of course, I’m still useless at baking, and if Mary Berry ever got a taste of my attempts, she’d probably struggle to maintain her ever-so-polite demeanour whilst telling me it was “a little over-baked”, but that’s ok. The point is, GBBO encouraged me to do something different.
If you’re reading this as somebody who has never seen the show, please give it a chance. Maybe I am a tiny bit biased (my appreciation for sweet treats and Sue Perkins is admittedly a little stronger than the average person’s), but I’m not alone with my opinion. In fact, more than 10 million people tuned in to the last season. Surely it’s worth a chance?
It pretty much all boils down to this: I see all these other shows and I know that I will never be a singer or a dancer or a fire-breathing magician with a talking dog. But I can certainly try my hand at baking. And if that fails, well, at least I’m equipped with enough cake-based puns to last a lifetime.