When it was announced that The Great British Bake Off was leaving its home on BBC2 and being promoted to the BBC’s flagship channel, ardent fans were worried that a move to BBC1 could mean a move away from the homespun, low-key charm of the Bake Off tent.
After last night’s launch show, it seems those fears were unfounded.
The Bake Off wasn’t a bit shinier or glossier or tougher. They might have moved to the grounds of another stately home, but the tent was the same. Mary was still gliding around queen-like under canvas while silvery-haired Hollywood was still all growly when he wasn’t impressed. Mel and Sue were still pushing the boundaries of socially acceptable innuendo. The contestants were still delightful and nice. They didn’t come complete with sob-stories. And they weren’t voted out by the audience on premium rate phone lines.
Though while we are on the subject, there was something a little different about this year’s contestants. We are sure it’s got nothing to do with moving to BBC1, but 2014’s bakers were a bit fancier than before.
The standard already feels incredibly high this year. Week one and there were no disasters, meltdowns or huge mistakes. No cakes fell dramatically to the floor. No one confused for salt for sugar. It was a far cry from last year’s blood bath. Sure Iain’s swiss roll was more of a swiss fold and Claire’s chocolates cakes were a bit of a mess, but right from the get go this lot were pulling out all the stops. And by stops I mean a floral printed sponge, ganache and pipettes of lemon grizzle. Pipettes. In the first episode.
And I haven’t even got to the gadgets. This year’s bakers have come prepared. Nancy bought with her a tiny handmade guillotine for perfectly chopping mini cakes in half, while Norman utilised an odd-looking implement to pry cakes from their cases in one time-saving swoop.
As we munch our way into series five (you’re a fool if you don’t snack during the Bake Off), it’s clearly no longer enough to be able to whip up an all-in-one sponge without getting the edges burnt.
I used to watch the Bake Off and think if I found the inclination to dust off my recipe books that I could create a cake almost as good. But not now. These amateur bakers are in a whole different league.
The Great British Bake Off continues on Wednesday at 8:00pm on BBC1
Ellie is an entertainment, TV and film journalist writing news and (hopefully incredibly witty) comment for RadioTimes.com. She loves light-hearted dramas and glossy US series - and is more than a little bit obsessed with Downton Abbey. Foodie, sun-seeker and aspiring novelist in her own time. Likes the fact that her name rhymes with telly.