The Great British Bake Off rises to BBC1. What makes it so tasty? It’s not everyday you awake to hear good news.
The Great British Bake Off rises to BBC1. What makes it so tasty? It’s not everyday you awake to hear good news. I’m not talking about England qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil – although obviously that is good news – I’m talking about The Great British Bake Off (T.G.B.B.O) being transferred to BBC 1 when it returns for it’s fifth series next year. The move follows its rise from 2.8 million viewers on its first airing in 2010, to 7.2 million watching last year’s final. The show has been supported by Charlotte Moore, the new BBC1 controller, since its commissioning in 2009. She has been quoted in The Guardian as saying, “It is absolutely right to bring the show to an even broader audience on BBC1…I can assure viewers I will continue to cherish it.”
For those who have never watched the programme a quick explanation: each week contestants bake three challenges over a weekend. They are judged by professional bakers, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, on taste, presentation and technical elements. The accolade of star baker is awarded each week as well as a participant being eliminated. All this is delicately sandwiched, (see what I did there?) together with the cream and jam that are Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins. What makes this programme such a hit with the viewers? I know it is enjoyed by all ages with many companies having a GBBO sweepstake going on in their offices. So I asked a cross section of the public what their views were. The resounding message was that it’s the variety of people that appear on the programme that make it of interest to different age groups.
“It reflects our patriotic society,” said a year 13 pupil from Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School. Another added, “We just like food – and of course, Mary.”
Standing out as a show stopper
As one of many reality shows it definitely stands out from the others… and I’m not even a baker anymore. I used to make elaborate ‘show stopper’ cakes for my children on their birthdays – I did them all from Thomas the Tank engine through to all the characters from Tots TV to fairy castles… until they discovered the Caterpillar cake at a friend’s party…Yes, thank you Marks and Spencer, you have a lot to answer for. (I will just pause while students of a certain age go misty eyed and mutter, “Ah, the Caterpillar cake, I loved it.”) Yet I still find myself setting aside an hour of ‘Do Not Disturb TV’ during the week, to catch Mel and Sue making dreadfully funny puns, and all the characters baking things I can only dream of making. Why? Well I believe it is because these contestants all have knowledge of baking and a desire to achieve and produce. I’m not saying contestants on programmes such as the X Factor aren’t talented but one does get the impression that they don’t necessarily come on the show to improve their talent. There seems to be another motive – or the TV Company want to show some car crash television to increase viewing figures. At least with T.G.B.B.O we watch people who have a love of baking, not celebrity status, and knowledge of what they are hoping to achieve.
Hollywood does the BBC
There is no doubting that the presenters, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry must take some credit for the popularity. Michelle, from East London told me, “I started watching it as my husband and daughter watched it. It is a great way to get the young interested in baking – and I’ve become hooked. I love learning about the different techniques – it has definitely increased my knowledge. I have all their books now and I think they give honest remarks which make for good television. I have to say Paul Hollywood is rather easy on the eye.”
It’s not just the contestants and judges that help with the programmes popularity. There is amusing banter between Mel and Sue and the way they are there to support the contestants. “Do you want me to slap you around the face?” Mel asked as she went into a mild panic. “Just a get a grip!” she has been heard to say. It’s rather like watching a large family each week go through emotional highs and lows with the added extra of some amazing creative results to feast our eyes upon. Oh and of course, we can enjoy the biscuits and cakes, the ganache icing and pastry without having to worry about the calories. That is unless of course we endeavour to try and replicate their challenges. That wont be happening in my house – there would be too many lows and tears and I’d have to slap myself around the face…followed by a trip to M&S for a caterpillar cake.