Daisy Buchanan puts her îles flottantes on the line to explain why GBBO takes the cake when it comes to cracking TV
I’m going to put my îles flottantes on the line and say that not only do I love Great British Bake Off, but I think that not loving it is like hating Christmas, or puppies, or the sun. Looking at cake is so pleasurable that I’ve stood outside various bakeries gawping at glistening éclairs, rubbing my thighs and making Homer Simpson drool-like noises until I was told that I had to move on or the owners would call the police. GBBO allows me to gaze at cake for a whole hour, from the comfort of my sofa, with no legal repercussions.
But I’m not just in it for the hot buns. I love GBBO because it’s the one time of the television year when my soul brothers and sisters get a go. We’re the people overlooked by all the other reality contests and genres. We’re not sporty, we’re not ANTM glam, (America's Next Top Model, FYI, do keep up!) we’re not desperate X-Factor show-offs – we’re not even clever or clued up enough for Only Connect. But we're quietly confident in our ability to bake a cake. GBBO gives us a home, and stops us feeling as though we’re stuck in a nerdy niche – for the last part of the summer, our pâtisserie passions occupy the minds of the nation! If you need any further convincing, here are the pieces that make up the delicious GBBO pie.
Mary Berry is Queen of Everything. Paul Hollywood is a fine presenter, knows his cake and is very good at his job. But Mary ... she's always kind, encouraging and curious, she’s open-minded enough to embrace everything from breadstick sculptures to hemp. (“Is it a kind of grass?”, she asked, baffled, when it turned up in Howard Middleton’s flour.) How many other 80-year-olds can say that their outfit almost caused riots in Zara? Mary is our adopted Nan. If you say you don’t like Bake Off, you’re basically saying you don’t like our nan. We’ll see you outside.
Mel and Sue
The thing I love the most about presenters Mel and Sue is that they are completely, visibly lit up with joy and love for the competition. They know they have, figuratively and literally, the jammiest jobs in the world. They’re also incredibly kind to the contestants, giving them confidence-boosting chat and cheering them up at points when they look like they might just want to set their biscuits on fire. Also, they love innuendo more than a person with an Instagram account loves avocado on toast, and will never tire of warning us of the perils of the “soggy bottom”. Frankly, the very thought of the delicious duo makes me want to ganache my buns. If you don’t like GBBO, it’s probably because it’s all too sexy for you, and you’d be better off watching something tame like 50 Shades of Grey.
The customary controversy
The other day someone offered me baked Alaska for dessert and I instantly felt a bit tense. I still ate it, obviously – but the pud caused so much drama on the last series that it’s still the top baked Alaska story on Google News, a whole year later. Contestant Iain Watts binned his ice-cream-based creation after it started to melt, which led to his elimination – but there were stories that competitor Diana Beard accidentally got it out of the freezer. Basically, a pudding that went a bit wrong generated two weeks’ worth of newspaper columns, millions of frenzied debates over tea, hours of pub chat and at least one viewer swapping her Viennetta for a Wall’s ice-cream sponge roll. And if we go back even further, some people are still sore about the time that Deborah accidentally pinched Howard’s custard. GBBO makes headline news out of delicious food. You can’t possibly claim that it’s tame and twee – there’s more tension and suspense than you get in Breaking Bad.
Making pre-watershed history, the viewing world stopped and chuckled when a clever cameraman caught a glimpse of the most … generously endowed woodland creature in the history of family viewing. We can only assume that it was hoping to distract everyone for long enough so that it could sneak off with a bit of gingerbread. If you were struggling with your dough balls, that’s the sort of sight that might spur you on. It also acted as a helpful reminder to contestants who were worried about forgetting to add nuts. And ultimately, the only remotely reasonable excuse you can have for not liking GBBO is a nut allergy.