Why I love The Great British Bake Off

In no other show would you witness someone elbowing a muffin. It warms your heart like a pre-heated oven, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

The Great British Bake Off is back this Wednesday. And thank the lord it is. 


Not that I don’t have a sense of national pride or the desire for our country to win shiny sporting trophies, but seriously, it feels as though there’s been nothing on the telly but footballs, tennis balls and shuttlecocks lately. And absolutely nobody has been producing puns about any of them. 

That, though, is all about to change when Mel and Sue triumphantly return to the schedules in two days time to welcome the fifth series of the Bake Off. 

Yep, that’s right, the tent and its eager, amateur bakers have been on our TV screens for four years now. And with Mary and Paul gearing up for yet another stint under canvas, our appetites aren’t waning.

In fact, so many of us eschewed our summer social lives to spend our Wednesday nights in front of the telly in 2013 that this year the Bake Off is moving channels to BBC1. (It also managed to get #soggybottom trending on Twitter, which is no less monumental a feat.)

So why do we love this simple show?  

Anything – in the world of TV or otherwise – that revolves around cake has got to be a good thing. Mel and Sue’s clever quips probably have something to do with it too. As do crinkly-eyed, jazzy-jacketed Mary and her meaner sidekick, silver-haired Hollywood.  

But the Bake Off has many more strings to its buttery bow. GBBO brings us drama and comedy, danger and jeopardy. In no other show would you witness someone elbowing a muffin. In no other show do people say things like “massive horns”, “lovely sausage” and “custard sabotage”. It warms your heart like a pre-heated oven.

And it’s not just about soggy bottoms. Bake Off is inspirational. I feel if I ever wanted to create a tower of button shaped biscuits or craft a Dalek out of edible goods that I totally could. And I know Mary Berry would be holding my hand as I did it (metaphorically, of course – she might be keen on getting the nation baking, but I’m not sure she offers that kind of personal service).

Ultimately, the Bake Off is a golden-hearted, good-natured show. Each of the contestants really care. There are genuine tears when they say their goodbyes – even if the departed stole their custard earlier in the week.

In a world of sob stories, backstabbing and increasingly ridiculous reality competitions, the Bake Off has confidently remained sunny and simple. 

And, oh the cake. The batter, the crumbs, the delectable delights balanced on top of thick, sweet icing. The crème patissieres, the beautifully crafted petit fours. I practically dribble for an entire hour. Which upsets my housemates and really doesn’t do me any favours socially if I watch it on iPlayer on the train. But I don’t care. An hour in the warm glow of Bake Off is worth the disgusted looks. 

The Great British Bake Off starts on Wednesday at 8:00pm on BBC1

Main image shot exclusively for Radio Times by Nicky Johnston

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