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The Great British Bake Off Letdown

Posted in Media Spotlight, Spotlight on Food, and Television Reviews

The final episode of The Great British Bake Off aired last night to an audience of nearly 15 million, before it moves to Channel 4, but it wasn’t that great. It was like a sunken cake. The fact that the bookies had stopped any bets on Candice to win told us all that she had won. Considering the show was filmed a few months ago, and that several hundred people knew the outcome (the other contestants and their family and friends, plus the camera crew), keeping the winner a secret was always mission impossible. However, people must remember this is a reality show first, and a baking contest second. If there are no personalities to follow, then the audience doesn’t bother watching. That’s where many acclaimed chefs who try their hand at television fail, when the public don’t warm to them or find them interesting.

This year the final was overshadowed by the move to Channel 4 and the loss of one judge and the hosts. If one had to rank the order of importance, it would have been Mary Berry first, Mel and Sue, and then Paul Hollywood on the show. The contestants seemed rather boring to say the least, even more so than the previous year. Only Selasi gave the viewers anything to talk about, and became the entertainment on the show.

Did the right person win? Candice was the better baker on the day; if only Andrew had got his sausage rolls done sooner and not tried to use muscovado sugar in his meringues, then maybe he would have fared better. It seemed Paul Hollywood had already decided before the final who the winner when asked by the hosts. Out of the three, Andrew was my choice, because he looked so dedicated, and he looked as if he genuinely enjoyed baking. Jane wasn’t a favorite of mine, as some of her baking was more of a slap dash homemade style (which was the idea of bake off in the first place), but she grew on me when I saw her family profile. Candice was one of my least favorite bakers, and while people say she flirted (she did) with Paul Hollywood, and pouted a lot with pretty dreadfully applied lipstick, it didn’t endear her to the public. Her baking at times was adventurous, but there was an arrogance in her voice, and a baker is supposed to be humble. Jane was down to earth, maybe too much so compared to Candice’s competitive edge, but her phrase If in doubt, throw glitter at it,” says it all, and that must have won her a few more fans. Andrew, I feel had the most potential.

The technical challenge showed how good a baker Andrew was, and won that challenge after admitting he hadn’t baked a Victoria Sponge in a long time, armed with only the ingredients. The other women had baked this classic cake numerous times, and theirs looked poor compared to his. Quite simply, if you can’t bake the classic then you shouldn’t have been in the final. Jane’s sponges were uneven and too big, and Candice’s jam was runny. Andrew had the foresight to put his jam in the freezer for a few minutes so it wouldn’t run or melt. He excelled at something he hadn’t baked, and the others failed to bake a simple classic sponge.

The final verdict is that Candice was the better baker on the day by pure chance, but she wasn’t the best baker in the contest. It was about who performed on the day, and she did better than the others. As for popularity, it seems the public were rooting for Andrew or Jane, and popularity can count for more than actual titles or prizes. A reality show needs an audience and if the show hadn’t been moving channels, would have as many people tuned in, knowing it was the last series on the BBC? I for one probably wouldn’t have bothered, and watched it for the hosts and to see what Mary Berry had baked that week. As soon as the winner was announced I switched off.

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