My Opinions On The Rise & Fall Of The Great British Bake Off

11 Oct 2019

The Great British Bake Off - arguably one of the nation's favourite TV shows, especially if you like pretending you know a butt ton about baking whilst also realising that you're an 80 year old person in a 20-something's body. Just me? Moving swiftly on... Bake Off is a programme that captured our hearts when it first aired in 2010 with its cringe-worthy baking innuendos, wholesome baking montages and cake creativity. But I have a few opinions on the current state of this TV fave...

Since Bake Off moved from BBC to Channel 4 in 2017, I just don't think that this sugar-coated show has been the same. I've felt the urge to write a post like this grow stronger and stronger with each season and episode, but now, I've hit boiling point and it's time to let off some steam.

If you haven't seen anything of Great British Bake Off before, let me fill you in. This is a competition show that centres around 12 (or in season 10's case, 13) amateur home bakers, following their competitive bakes across a number of weeks until there's one ultimate winner. As this is adorably cute and homely content, there isn't some grand money prize or guaranteed fame. No no, the prize is much better. It's a Bake Off glass cake stand. Money can't buy that kind of prize! Each week, the bakers take part in three challenges and are critiqued on all, with one baker being crowned as Star Baker for the week and one baker being eliminated.

Sounds great, right? But for me, while this format still exists, it's lost all the charm that I had previously fallen in love with. Let me explain.

Weird weekly themes

Each week, there's a different theme that the bakers need to adhere to. This could be anything from pie week to vegan week, and from chocolate week to patisserie week. When this show belonged to the BBC, these were the types of themes we came to expect and personally, I enjoyed them. They were broad enough that people could be creative and experiment, whilst giving the audience a bit of security in the content that they were viewing.

Since the move to Channel 4, it's almost like the producers have gone, 'right gang, how can we be super duper edgy and awesome to keep the kids interested? I know, let's have really random and obscure themes.' We've seen 'forgotten bakes' in season 7, right through to 'roaring 20s' and 'festivals' in season 9. It feels like a massive reach and it's not the kind of themes I signed up for.

Sure, we still get the crowd faves like biscuit week and bread week (we all remember that lion bread), but these weird weekly themes need to stop. During festival week, I got so uninterested and found the episode so dry that I actually can't remember any of the bakes from it. Whereas with the 'old' Bake Off, there were stand out, stellar bakes and we can all attach the weekly theme to it - the lion in bread week and the gingerbread pub in biscuit week.

The double-dumping plot twist

This is definitely more geared towards the current season (season 10), but like I mentioned in the intro, there was an extra contestant at the beginning of this season. It was explained that this was done to celebrate the tenth year of the show. Seems like an odd way to celebrate, but okay lads, why not? But instead of tweaking the format to have four contestants in the final instead of three, there was a shock double-dumping.

Now listen, I'm all for a shock twist and if I wasn't, I wouldn't be a huge fan of Love Island or The Circle, but Bake Off isn't designed to be like those shows. We don't watch Bake Off for drama and intrigue. We watch it because we want to see cute and lovely people bake delicious foods. It makes us feel cosy and comforted, and twists like this are not welcome in such a place.

There is no rhyme or reason to who is eliminated

I can't be the only one who has been left totally baffled by the eliminations, almost on a weekly basis. One minute, you'll think that one contestant is doing particularly well and has made some good progress, then the next minute, they're saying their goodbyes within the same episode.

For example, take Helena in the image above. She was one of my favourites from the start because she was a bit quirky and her bakes were totally unique. That sea creature bursting out from the top of a tart was my favourite. The week that she was eliminated (the double-dumping), she had won the technical challenge and did fairly well in the other two challenges. So why on earth was she eliminated? I was utterly furious and still am as I type this!

From my perspective, it looks like the show runners enjoy having this show talked about. Any press is good press, right? So if a high performer is eliminated, every single trending topic on Twitter is guaranteed to be about Bake Off. When Jamie was booted off, Twitter was booting off! Granted, he was a bit rubbish, but everyone loved his personality. It just makes me wonder whether baking talent and creativity is something that is still valued and judged on this show, or whether it's more about the audience attention.

The critiques are incredibly harsh

When you're a creative, it's important to be open to critiques and some would even argue that you should search for critiques to help you flourish. Like I mentioned before, each round of the episodes are judged by the piercing Paul Hollywood and the BTEC Mary Berry, Prue Leith. These used to be helpful critiques that had the right amount of positivity mixed with constructive criticism because this is how you would help people to grow and learn.

It has been more than noticeable that the critiques have become more and more harsh as the time has gone on, with Prue telling Priya that her blueberry buttercream was simply 'horrible'. In my opinion, this really isn't helpful to both the baker's self-esteem or their motivation to learn and do better. The language that is being used isn't appropriate and isn't something that you'd expect to find on a show like this. We're in a gingham covered tent, not Gordon Ramsay's kitchen, for goodness sake!

The bakers are deflated

This clearly links very closely to my last point, but it's obvious to see that the bakers that are still a part of season 10 are incredibly deflated, and I don't blame them! Gone is the joy and sparkle that is plastered across all of their faces in the first episode. Instead, we're seeing Michael crying during every challenge, Henry's 'oh god, what now?' face, and Alice finding it harder and harder to keep up that peppy demeanour.

This is definitely not about me wanting to only watch happy people baking because I get it - I've cried over cake way too many times to say - but I think something needs to be done to ensure that the mental health of future contestants isn't affected by taking part in the show. It really is awful to see everyone lose more and more excitement as the weeks draw on, which is something that I think can be helped by the judges being a little more mindful and cooking up challenges that aren't so impossible. Technical challenges that no one on the face of the earth has ever heard of that need to be completed in an hour? Pull the other one!

Well that turned into quite the rant, but a beautifully structured and sound rant. With all of this being said, I'm a die-hard fan of Bake Off and I don't see myself missing an episode any time soon. Of course, I'd love to see some changes to bring back that same magic that we loved from the original series, but I'm not going to stop watching any time soon.

I'm so interested to know what your opinion is on the Great British Bake Off, so drop me a comment below!

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