On his Radio 2 show at just before 7:30 on Wednesday morning, Chris Evans was doing his segment featuring what things the kids of the UK were doing for the first time. During that segment, Evans took a call from Isabella, from Brigg in Lincolnshire, who then said what she was doing tonight.
“I’m watching my granny on the final on Great British Bake Off!” she exclaimed.
Isabella was the granddaughter of Nancy Birtwhistle, one of the finalists on the Bake Off, and later that night, millions across the UK would watch the final on BBC One, wondering who would win.
Would it be Nancy? Would it be Richard Burr, or would it be Luis Troyano?
It would be Nancy, as more than 12 million people (according to a report from The Guardian) found out that night. The win had been unexpected as many thought Richard would win the Bake Off, the first one airing on BBC One since its switch from BBC Two last year.
Isabella returned to Evans’ show the next morning, excited with glee.
“What was your favourite bit on the show last night?” Evans asked.
“She made the Windmill,” Isabella replied.
“The Windmill was great, wasn’t it?” Evans said, adding later of the Drainpipe cake, made with the help of Nancy’s husband.
“Yeah,” Isabella said, also approving of the nickname Fancy Nancy that her grandmother had been given.
An unexpected success
Reaction had also spread on social media, with many a tweet being written. Views had been mixed.
— Gemma Hirst (@GemmHirst) October 8, 2014
— Jo-Anne Rowney (@JoAnneRowney) October 8, 2014
The Bake Off, or GBBO has its commonly known, was an instant hit when it debuted on BBC Two in 2010, and since then, it has become different compared to The X Factor or other reality shows.
“I don’t think anyone expected it to take off in the way it did,” said Nickie Latham, Director of Hand in Glove Digital, a London based social media consultancy, in a telephone interview. “It’s kind of unexpected – it doesn’t fit with other reality shows. It’s made with love.”
Latham added that GBBO is organic as it belongs to the fans, and this organic rule also applies to social media.
“With some programmes, the hashtag goes up [with] the expectations of tweeting,” Latham said. “With the Bake Off, it’s organic. You want to tweet about it. People tweet about it for the love of it. You do feel it’s coming from the heart.”
Something for the fans
Latham says it has always been a hit on social media, but the incident of bingate, where sabotage had been suspected by Diana on Iain’s recipe, saw GBBO took off on social media even more.
“There was rarely controversy on Bake Off, and that moment was the one where they flooded on,” Latham said.
But while fans must wait another year for another round of the Bake Off to appear on television, one thing has been made clear—the connection is strong, and in the words of Latham, its appointment viewing.
“It’s appointment viewing – it happens rarely,” Latham said. “It’s something you share with friends. It’s a national moment.”
What do you think? What makes GBBO a success? Have your say in the comments section below.