We Recommend: The Great British Bake Off
If this isn’t one of the most ridiculous but most brilliant shows on TV, I’ll eat my apron.
Imagine The Apprentice, but instead of scary Alan Sugar you have a sweet old lady with a smile like sunshine and a man with slicked salt-and-pepper hair who looks like he should sell boats in Spain. Imagine X Factor, but instead of boys with painfully intense expressions and girls with feathers stuck to their eyelashes trying to fit the most vocal warbles into three minutes as they can, you have middle aged women in flowery blouses trying to make the perfect bakewell tart.
The Great British Bake Off is, in a word, excellent. It’s like every other reality TV show, but with cake. With cake. Absolutely everything is better with cake.
It’s fairly formulaic. Each week is a different round for the contestants. Each round has two parts: a “make what you want” part and a set challenge. So, the first round this series is cake. The contestants make whatever cupcakes they like for the first half, and then a coffee and walnut Battenberg cake for the second half.
Whilst the majority of the episode is focused on them making their baked goods of choice, the presenters (Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins being as charming and as non-annoying as I’ve ever seen them) travel around the UK and visit baking experts, who tell us the history of whatever is the theme for this round — in this case, cake.
The Great British Bake Off is genuinely delightful viewing. The whole show is just so nice. You get the occasional tears, but it’s not because the judges, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, have torn into them and called them useless, but because it’s stressful making 24 totally-identical totally-perfect cupcakes only to be told the bottoms are a bit soggy (Shut up, it is. You can’t say until you’ve tried it) People don’t bang on about how they’ve wanted this their entire lives, or how it means everything to them, or dedicating their creations to their dead fathers (I’m looking at you, Masterchef). You just get a bunch of people making biscuits and trying to win a competition.
I dare you to watch it, just once. You’ll settle in front of BBC2 at 8pm on Tuesdays, ready to sneer and say it’s rubbish. In fact, you possibly will sneer and say it’s rubbish. But I bet you that you’ll find yourself putting it on next week too. And the week after that. And the week after that. The Great British Bake Off has charmed everyone I know that has watched it. It’s an entire hour dedicated to competitive making of cakes and bread; how can you not love it?
Just a tip, though — make sure you’re well stocked on eggs, butter, sugar and flour before you start watching. I put on half a stone after watching last year’s series because I kept being inspired to bake things. There is some seriously yummy looking food in the PR photos for this year. Just check the trailer below.