SO David Cameron is buggering off – sorry, stepping down as an MP to avoid being a ‘distraction’ to Theresa May – and the Great British Bake Off is jumping ship to Channel 4. Perhaps a parallel or two can be found here.
To rub the fat of Bake Off with the flour of politics, all political careers end in a soggy bottom.
Enoch Powell said that, by the way, and not Mary Berry, although what he actually said was “end in failure”. And for David Cameron that was exactly the trajectory he followed, propelled upwards by his own personality, and the yeast of privilege, only to collapse in soggy ignominy. Cameron is the perfect example of this unkind rule as he engineered his own failure, toppling himself by gambling everything on the EU referendum. He was certain that he would win, as he was the sort of ‘contestant’ who always won.
But not this time and his career sank like a suicidal sponge cake. And then his successor threw all of his recipes in the bin marked ‘history’. So now Cameron is going to spend more time with his family – “if he can remember which pub he left them”, as the cartoonist Matt puts it in the Telegraph.
So here we have two topics of weight, but we should recognise that one is far more important than the other. So that’s enough about David Cameron. What’s happening with Bake Off?
Television used to be simple: there were a few channels and they showed programmes they’d made earlier themselves; and if they hadn’t made the programmes, they had invested the capital of hope by buying them in and screening them.
It was all easy to understand; and easy to spot the dividing lines between channels. But that old world crumbled for at least two reasons: one, the Thatcher government introduced rules to free-up the production of programmes on the BBC, allowing independent producers to grow; and two, the rise of Sky and then other satellite services disrupted what were once the traditional broadcasters.
Nowadays almost anything goes, as shown by the Great British Bake Off Bunk Off. The series is produced by Love Productions who are reported to have made financial demands the BBC felt it could not afford. So now Channel 4 has got its floury fingers on a three-series deal.
Now I like some Channel 4 programmes, and Channel 4 News is the best current-affairs watch around. But the Bake Off seems such a BBC programme to me, the spirit of what the Beeb should be about (along with many other things, naturally). The BBC might not have made the programme itself, but it nurtured the show, let it rise in the BBC2 warming cupboard, before putting it on BBC1. Yet all that effort, creativity and attention counts for nothing in the grab-all bun fight of modern television, which is a great shame.
Bake Off isn’t a Channel 4 show, but at least ITV didn’t manage to steal this pie from the BBC shelf. Will I still watch? Not at all sure, because I think the adverts will spoil everything. And Channel 4 will put the show on a desert island or something; or tell the contestants they have to be naked beneath their pinnies; or some such ratings-grabbing nonsense.
Okay, that won’t happen, but this great big warm fruitcake of a show just won’t be the same on Channel 4.