Q: What makes the Great British Bake Off so irresistible?
Interest in TV show in Ireland - if chatter on social media is an indicator - is quite intense
Great British Bake Off contestants (left to right) Alvin, Ugne, Paul, Dorret, Marie, Ian, Nadiya, Stu, Tamal, Flora, Mat and Sandy for this year’s BBC1’s cookery contest, Photograph: Mark Bourdillon/PA Wire
It is a truth universally acknowledged that you’d want to be some class of monster not to love the Great British Bake Off. Even people who don’t watch the programme about amateur bakers trying to put smiles on the faces of Paul Hollywood and a re-invented, 21st century Mary Berry have a soft spot for this quintessentially British piece of television.
Rejoice, then, for the Great British Bake Off has risen and television viewers here and across the water have shown no sign they are losing their appetite for its sweet triumphs, sour catastrophes and all those cheesy double-entendres liberally stirred into the mix by presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.
The first episode of the sixth series last Wednesday featured a female bodybuilder, a trainee anaesthetist and heavily tattooed musician among others. It was watched by almost 10 million people in the UK.
Interest in the Republic – if the cake-related chatter on social media was anything to go by – was almost as intense. As soon as it started, Twitter’s Irish timeline was swamped with #GBBO comments as people rushed to judge the contestants even before the cherries needed for a beetroot-infused Black Forest gateaux had been picked.
Stu Henshall, the man behind the beetroot concoction, paid dearly for his inventiveness. Almost as soon as it assaulted Berry and Hollywood’s tastebuds he was told to pack up his kitchen utensils.
KitchenAid or Kenwood?
And, speaking of kitchen utensils, the new series was barely a minute old when a furious debate started about the BBC’s decision to ditch KitchenAid food mixers in favour of cheaper, less retro ones produced by Kenwood.
The uniform response from outside the box was that the Beeb had made a stupid error shedding the hipster chic mixers which had been so central to the show from the very start. The Baking Set really care about such matters and so loud was the chorus of disapproval that the station had to issue an official response.
“The team regularly reviews and refreshes equipment depending on what is needed for the tasks that year,” it said tersely. “Equipment and brands are changed around where possible, whenever editorially appropriate, to avoid any perception of prominence over time.”
Or, to put it another way, product placement is verboten.
The bookies are also getting involved and there were dark whispers of a Great British betting coup in Ipswich. The series has already been recorded and “a run of bets” on one contestant in multiple Ladbrokes shops rang alarm bells that the winner had been leaked. But a cheery spokesman said betting would resume shortly, suggesting the scandal might have been much a-dough about muffin. Sorry.