Just over a year ago, the nation was rocked by some devastating news. The BBC had lost one of their flagship shows, The Great British Bake Off, to Channel 4 after they refused to pay the £25-million-a-year to hold on to the show. To be honest, the immediate story wasn’t that devastating, it was the news to come that broke the hearts of the nation. In previous interviews over the years, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, and hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins had expressed a desire to stay with the BBC. Three out of four of them kept this promise.
Mel & Sue first announced that they were not “going with the dough”, and we all guessed what was coming in response; Queen Mary Berry also decided to leave the show out of loyalty to the BBC. Tears were shed, but they soon dried in anger when it was discovered Paul was staying with the show, and had signed on for another three years. Everyone started accusing him of staying for the money, and even Anna Kendrick, when interviewed on The Graham Norton Show, expressed her displeasure: ‘‘of course Paul stayed,’’ she exclaimed sarcastically. Seeing celebrities discuss our guilty pleasure on international platforms showed the effect the brilliant formatting of GBBO had, leaving many to question whether it would ever work again.
Moving to present day, we are halfway through the first series on Channel 4 and it feels like we had nothing to worry about all along. Do not get me wrong, I miss Mel & Sue as much as the next person; do not even get me started on missing Mary Berry. But, watching the episodes now, from episode two in, you cannot help but be drawn into the comforting hug it continues to provide, and laugh or cry along with everyone else. Episode one threw some people off; Noel and Sandi are both great respectively but their relationship took some time to understand. Their nerves were very clearly present. One Twitter user got it so spot on when he described the usually controversial Noel Fielding as a man meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. What they were doing was trying to find where they fitted in, within the recycled format and all those despised adverts. They wanted to impress yet not be too different, to amuse but not overshadow contestants or the baking, which Mel & Sue always achieved. However, from episode two onwards, their relationship clicked, and now it feels like it was once before.
As for the judges, Paul is Paul, although handing out too many handshakes. Are they not meant to be special? Only reserved for finals? Despite not being a fan of Prue Leith on The Great British Menu where she came across as fairly annoying, the show has somehow softened her. The warm embrace the show provides draws us in and we still truly care for the contestants. I have tried to keep spoilers to a minimum in this article, but it is worth acknowledging the fact that Flo left too early. I still think about that watermelon cake to this day…
GBBO 2.0 may not have the same magic that the BBC version sparked all those years ago, but Channel 4 has NOT destroyed the show. It has stuck with the roots that make the show work: slight naughtiness mixed with awe and a genuine hunger that makes you want to eat every single cake we watch being baked. I think we will always yearn for Mary Berry back beside Paul, but I will see out this series, cheering on Liam to win, and no doubt continue to watch for years to come, because who doesn’t love baking on the telly? It just makes you smile.