How Bake Off encapsulates what it really means to be British

Yes, it's trivial – but The Great British Bake Off also shows us just how beautifully diverse modern Britain can be says Ellie Harrison

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There’s a lot of uncertainty in post-Brexit Britain. Important questions need answering, such as: Are we going to have access to the single market? What will border controls be like? Will Sainsbury’s keep selling croissants? 

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But there are some things we can always be sure of. One: British people take real joy in the seemingly trivial.

When it comes to news coverage of political events, we might listen to Dave Cam’s retirement speech, but what we hone in on is his awkward sing-song at the end.

And while we are painfully aware of the recent schisms in our government, we distract ourselves from this with a video of actual cats fighting on Downing Street.

The Great British Bake Off gets this. The need for the trivial. It’s a show about cake for god’s sake. And people are so into it that they cry when a sponge has a soggy bottom (guilty), and feel their hearts thud in fear when Paul Hollywood tastes a Venetian biscuit.

It’s completely ridiculous, but Bake Off’s whopping 13 million viewers are totally wrapped up in it, totally hooked, because the trivial stuff really matters

Another indisputable truth is that the British countryside is bloody lovely. Again, Bake Off celebrates this. The famous kitchen marquee was first pitched up at Valentines Mansion in Redbridge, before moving to Harptree Court in Somerset. This year, once again, we’re off to Welford Park in Berkshire.

But most importantly, Bake Off reflects our diversity. This year, the show welcomes its first Sikh (and vegan) contestant, Rav. Also in the kitchen will be Selasi, born in Ghana, and Michael, who has Cypriot heritage.

Bake Off could have been a distasteful, inward-looking Middle England show, but it isn’t and never has been. It’s properly British. It reflects the fact that these days, less than half of British people identify as Christian, and that almost 13% of the UK population isn’t white.

Last week, Bake Off 2015 winner Nadiya Hussain spoke out about the racial abuse she had experienced throughout her life.

And in the weeks immediately before and after the Brexit vote, reported incidents of hate crime in the UK increased by 42 per cent.

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Bake Off, for all its twee, cake-and-bunting-triviality, stands against all of this. The only prejudice in that tent is against anyone with a soggy bottom.

Meet The Great British Bake Off Class of 2016

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Andrew
Smyth

115207

Jane
Beedle

115211

Louise
Williams

 

115206

Selasi
Gbormittah

 

115203

Michael
Georgiou

 

115200

Benjamina
Ebuehi

 

115198

Candice
Brown

 

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Val
Stones

 

115807

Lee
Blanfield

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Kate
Barmby

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Tom
Gillford
 

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Rav
Bansal