Translating Mary and Paul: what the Great British Bake Off judges say - and what they really mean

Jack Seale analyses the master bakers' reactions, and the tell-tale signs that they're not impressed...

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Translating Mary and Paul: what the Great British Bake Off judges say - and what they really mean
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Jack Seale

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood might be the nicest talent-show judges on TV, but there's steel behind the politeness. As you watch tonight's final, keep an eye out for these classic Paul- and Mary-isms...  

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR REALLY STUPID IDEA!
“Good luck,” said Paul to Victoria in week three. Sounds nice. But she’d just announced that she was putting peppercorns in her tarte tatin pastry. Victoria was eliminated in week three. “I hope you can pull if off, mate,” said Paul to Stuart in week four as he tried to make a torte from several separate sponges. Stuart went out in week four. You don't want Paul wishing you luck.

IT'S INEDIBLE! OTHERWISE, V GOOD
Mary Berry is the epitome of good old-fashioned British politeness. She is always as positive as can be. The flipside of this is that very mild criticism from Mary actually means your bake is a write-off. “A little bit dry, and a little bit lacking in flavour,” she told the doomed Sarah-Jane in week seven. Translation: this tastes like carpet.

ME, PAUL. YOU, CONTESTANT
Not for nothing does Sue Perkins refer to Paul as “Silverback”. While Mary confines herself to judicious comments, the King Gorilla likes to get physical: sniffing James’s yeast (week two), drawing himself up to his full height to shake Ryan's hand (week six) and, memorably, grabbing Sarah Jane’s strudel dough and slamming it onto the worktop, in GBBO’s most erotically charged scene ever (week five). 

MY GOD! YOU'VE DONE SOMETHING RIGHT!
Paul Hollywood is so hard to please that when a baker does earn his admiration, it's quite a moment. Less soppy viewers than me might even have welled up as Paul looked Ryan in the eye in week five, and said, "You've... absolutely nailed that." And in week two, Cathryn's flatbread earned the ultimate accolade: Paul laughing in pleased disbelief that her crazy scheme had worked. "Spiced mango?! Yee-heh-ees! Get in there!"

The final of The Great British Bake Off is tonight at 8pm on BBC2

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