Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Great British Bake Off - pure, golden-raised pleasure

I don’t watch much television, but it's that time of year again when at 8pm each Tuesday I am glued to the box.

Yesterday I even set myself a reminder on my mobile to avoid making the mistake I did last week and forgetting to tune in.

My trusty phone beeped at 7.55pm, and  I was there, ready to settle down with a cup of tea for an hour of bliss.

A full 60 minutes of whipped, beaten, perfectly risen and golden-baked televisiual joy.

I am talking about the wonder of entertainment that is The Great British Bake Off – one of the true highlights of my summer.

For anyone who has not had the pleasure, this is the weekly show where contestants pit their baking wits against each other under the scrutinous eyes of master bakers Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

A scrumptious pair in themselves, but still a mere fragment of decadent delight in this wonderful programme.

What is so good about it is that although it is a reality show, i.e., people being filmed doing something and then booted off week by week if they don’t make the mark, it is unjaded by the wannabe, “I will do anything to be famous” aura that pollutes alomst all other reality shows.

I used to love Come Dine With Me, in the days when housewives, bankers and shop keepers would lay on extravagant dinners before being filmed in a taxi home judging each other’s efforts.

But the show has  become increasingly full of wacky, attention-seeking, budding model/ television presenter types who have caught on that this is just another reality platform from which to launch their careers.

“Here’s starter everyone, and by the way did you know I’ve written a book?”

And yes, we have the celebrity version too, where wacky, attention-seeking, washed-up ex-model/ television presenter types try to re-launch their careers.

Either way, it has become contrived and desperate, and watching people shamelessly showing off to get spotted on TV leaves me cold.

Bake Off is so different.

It is genuinely interesting, and the hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins inject just the right amount of scorn and humour without making it look scripted.

Unlike the X Factor, there are no sob stories, no death bed promises to dying grandfathers that “I’ll be somebody gramps”, and contestants are not made over and splattered all over the tabloids the day after they are evicted.

Because the bakers are all so genuine, they are immediately likeable. That is another reason I love following their journeys.

I was hooked last year when I first watched it, it also tempted me to get my mixing bowl and wooden spoon out for the first time in years.

There is even a half-eaten Mary Berry lemon drizzle cake on the kitchen work top.

I really hope it doesn’t change. Please - no tantrums, hysterics,fights or half-dead relatives, The Great British Bake Off is sheer joy just the way it is.


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