A SMALL programme about baking has its last spell in the BBC oven this evening, a valedictory bake before being transferred to Channel 4. The ingredients for the new version of the Great British Bake Off remain unknown, apart from bags of flour and bags of Paul Hollywood, the celebrity baker.
Many things upset me about this – not least that I should be upset by it at all. Part of me wants to say: “It’s a show about baking – get over yourself.” But the thing is, Bake Off is both that and more, a floury hymn to Britishness if you like, or to icing sugar-speckled version of England that fits the way we like to see ourselves.
It also irks me that Hollywood is the only survivor, after Mary Berry, that sainted queen of the sugar bowl, refused to jump ship, along with Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, who declined to take their squishy cream-bun puns over to Channel 4.
Basically, Hollywood irks me, so the thought of watching him doing his baking bully act without Mel and Sue to take the mick out of him is dispiriting
Part of the pleasure in watching Bake Off lies in the way this show has slowly risen to doughy dominance, from being a smallish BBC2 show to the biggest programme on British television, a monument to the art of baking, a good art.
And another part lies in that horrible old TV term of ‘chemistry’. Who’d have thought that an elderly cook, a cocky baker and two relatively low-flying comedians would have been ingredients to react so well to each other. But they did.
It was the BBC that encouraged this show, gave it space to grow in the airing cupboard, only to see the independent producers behind the show flog it off to Channel 4 (all those millions for a format, a tent and one up-himself baker).
The way a show can be kidnapped from one channel by another still seems strange, one of those ‘modern life is rubbish’ things. Netflix regrets not bidding for the show, reports the Guardian, while ITV rather wisely noticed that their millions might not secure any of the presenters, so stepped away from the cake-laden table
The thought of Bake Off on Netflix is frankly bizarre, and yet saying that does dust me with hypocrisy: we have Netflix, thanks to our son signing us up, and watch dramas often. Sometimes you can disapprove of modern life while slyly taking advantage of it.
Anyway, three bakers will assemble tonight for the last BBC edition of Bake Off. Jane Beedle, Candice Brown and Andrew Smyth will square off against each other, butter cream gladiators with a chance to be the last proper winner. No guesses from me, although I have favoured Candice all the way through – at least in part thanks to her baking skills.