GBBO‘s curious appeal lies in its predictability. As fans of the Bake Off (of whom I am among the most fervent) all know, the final three contestants always fit into three categories: (1) The clinically accurate and fiercely competitiveone (Brendan this year). This contestant has been waiting their entire life for this moment, and spent the six months prior to the contest locked in their kitchen frantically turning out batch after batch of macaroons.They put on a friendly face for but you can tell they’re dying to ram their sugar thermometer down the other bakers’ throats. Their cakes and pies, though technically flawless,always seem to lack that je ne sais quoi which marks out a real winner.
(2) The brilliant but erratic one (James).This is usually a student or young professional who filled out the entry form as a bet when paralytically drunk but turns out to be brilliant. Rather than prepare for each round they just throw together as unlikely a combination of ingredients as they can think of, chuck the whole lot in the oven, and then look gormlessly surprised when Paul and Mary fawn over their veal, passionfruit and engine oil flavoured quiche.Unlike (1) this contestant is hideously unreliable and is usually the one standing sheepishly behind the table after the “technical challenge”with a pool of curdled sick where their Crème Caramel is supposed to be.
(3) The clumsy one who comes through at the end (John). This contestant goes unnoticed for the first two-thirds of the competition; indeed, the only reason anyone remembered John was for the hilarious moment where he managed to cut half his finger off during pastry week and had to abandon his blood-soaked strudel and go to hospital. But as the contest progresses this contestant goes on a ‘journey’ and ends up winning. Sure enough, this week, Brendan’s hideously cutesie heart-shaped monstrosity was deemed good but not great by the judges, James was having an offday and baked five bulbous sponges the texture of playdough, and John sneakily carried off the prize with his sinister Heaven vs Hell cake.
Despite its predictability, l will miss sitting hungrily in front of the TV on a Tuesday night, watching Mary and Paul’s good-cop/bad-cop routine. I’ll even miss Mel and Sue wandering round the tent shovelling the spare cupcakes into their mouths, not to mention the curious history lesson that accompanies each episode, where an aged ‘food historian’ (perhaps my dream job) takes the viewer through the invention of Eccles Cakes or Cornish Pasties. I’m not looking forward to the long and tortuous (or torte-uous…) wait till next series.