The Great British Bake Off: Why does it do so well?

Pop Idol was the first talent show I remember watching when I was younger. In fact, I was so involved with the programme that I actually got the Hearsay CD. After that, our televisions were bombarded with countless talent and reality TV shows; X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, I’m a Celebrity, Made In Chelsea and The Voice are just a few programmes that instantly come to mind. Simon Cowell revolutionised the way we perceive talent these days, but is it for the better? Personally, after the sixth series of the X-Factor I began to get fed-up of the programme cluttering up my TV at the weekend, and swore to never purchase songs by X-Factor finalists again. However, even with my bitter outlook on talent contests, one programme came along that stole my Wednesday nights away.

The Great British Bake Off is, in my opinion, everything a talent show should be. The pure innocence of polite, good old English manners, joint with the delight of baking yummy cakes, pies and tarts, has captured the heart of the nation. There is no pleading to the judges to be kept on the show, there are no tears of a broken heart when their dream of winning the contest are thwarted by the judges, there are no clips of the hard lives of the contestants to win over the hearts of the public voters, and there is no real rivalry between the contestants, as they all help each other out with their baking if something goes awry. Granted, there are the occasional bout of tears when a bake goes terribly wrong, or the one strop when a certain baked Alaska completely melted, but what makes the program stand out is the pure, graceful, British way of dealing with things; something somewhat lacking in our society these days.

I am in no way ashamed to admit I have The Great British Bake Off cookbook, and have not missed a single episode of the programme since the very first series. The programme just keeps getting stronger and stronger, and with its recent promotion to BBC One, it’s on track to continue to do well. It provides entertainment for the whole family to watch. The only downside of the program I can think of is the fact each episode has me craving a cake and cup of tea, hence the first episode of series five had the National Grid reporting a sudden surge in the demand for electricity of 450MW, equivalent to 260,000 kettles boiling!

A non-soggy bottom, a crumbly biscuit and a well-proved bread are baking tips many of the British public have now learnt. Getting the general public baking again is an achievement the show can be proud of. What makes the show for me is the double act, Sue and Mel, with their wide array of baking-related innuendos that have me chuckling every time, without fail. Their mischievous nature of munching on the left-overs from the bakers technical bakes, show-stoppers and signature challenges only adds to the kind-hearted nature of the show. Even the cold blue eyes of Paul Hollywood put the cherry on top of the Bakewell tart!

This year’s final saw Richard, who had been crowned Star Baker for a record five times and therefore was the favourite to win, come runner-up to Nancy. He scrambled the eggs in his tart au citron for the technical bake, showing how the show is never predictable and really does boil down to the taste of the bakes on the day! The final saw a record average of 12.3 million viewers tuning in to watch the finalists beat their eggs into the final (sorry, I’ve been influenced by the show’s presenters too much). I also like how the show does not allow the public to vote for their favourite, and instead trusts the knowledgeable and wise Mary Berry and the intimidating (and slightly scary) Paul Hollywood to select who leaves and who stays.

Personally, I am sad to see the show end, only to be left with the X-factor live shows on my TV. I cannot wait until next year to see new bakers struggling away in the bakers’ tent, and wait with anticipation each time Mary and Paul eat the bakers’ food and criticise or congratulate their talent for baking. I am a bit of an amateur baker myself, so maybe next year I will feel brave enough to make my own show-stopper of a 3 tiered cake, with decoration consisting of biscuits, macaroons, caramel, icing, tempered chocolate, meringue, spun sugar, profiteroles, nuts…

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