Tuesday nights in this house have been dominated for the past 5 weeks by the BBC 2 series: The Great British Bake Off, the phone doesn’t get answered, dishes go unwashed, it’s my hour in front of the tv. I don’t really go in for reality shows, have never watched “Strictly”, seen Britain’s Got Talent once and after a serious addiction to series 1 of BB, never again!
But, baking is different. I love to bake so I couldn’t resist watching and although I may not be the best or tidiest of cooks no-one has ever complained there’s too much cake in the tin or refused a second helping of my meat pie! Of course, being a reality show, the “GBBO” is meant to incite rants from the viewer, we’re meant to have favourites, enjoy the hot and bothered contestants sniping and failing or gradually getting more bitchy as the weeks progress and the final gets closer.
Only, somewhere along the line, the programme makers seem to have forgotten that most home bakers are genuinely nice people and so it’s no surprise to me that 1 week away from the final I can’t bear to see any of the last 3 bakers leave and will admit to shedding a tear yesterday when Jas was sent home. There’s Ruth, technically competent and as a fellow “Cheshire Wife” I should be rooting for her, her clear joy at producing food her family will eat makes it impossible to dislike her. (I’ll bet she was in management – probably retail in a previous life, she is scarily organised). Then we have Edd, obviously very at home in the kitchen and with a wicked grin and a baker of great cakes he has won me over and I’d love to see him carry home the prize. Finally there’s Miranda, the contestant with whom I have the most in common, so I do secretly have a soft spot for her – and not just because she shares my penchant for fancy iced biscuits and Cath Kidston accessories! She’s the one who bakes for love, I imagine her kitchen is a place full of laughter, she probably turns up at school fetes with icing on the tip of her nose and a tin full of immaculately decorated goodies. If I was going to indulge in stereotypes then Miranda’s baking is all about fun and good company, she’s the one I’d most like to share a cup of tea with. I bet we’d giggle and gossip and be late for the school run! Edd’s is about technical ability and Ruth is all about championing the cause of good, practical, well presented food people will want to eat. The judges are another story entirely, Paul Hollywood is a professional baker, he wouldn’t go down well at the WI because he slices his scones instead of tearing them (which spoils the texture – I’ve read the rule book), while Mary Berry is old school baking at it’s best – my very first recipe book was my Mum’s Mary Berry Cook Book circa 1970 complete with pictures of pineapple upside down cake and queen of puddings, which seemed very modern to me at the time! The thought of cooking for Mary would scare the living daylights out of me and when she said: “You’ve let me down, Miranda” I couldn’t help but fill up with tears.
I’m not sure I can bring myself to watch the final next week, or maybe I’ll let myself watch until the last minutes and then when Mel and Sue reveal the winner I’ll switch off quickly to avoid the pain. But then again, the programme makers aren’t daft, I’ll be there, glued to my seat, nails bitten, family ignored enjoying reality tv at it’s best. Tuesday nights have been a joy and I’ve loved it!