The Bake Off freakout: a plea for sanity

Naomi Firsht

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Dough deflated, soufflés sank and hearts were broken across the nation last week at the news that The Great British Bake Off would be moving from its rightful place on BBC One to its trashier cousin Channel 4, home of shows about weird body parts and nudity.

News of the move – due to the BBC’s refusal to pay £25million per series – made headlines across the mainstream media, and the Twittersphere exploded with sadness and bad baking puns (Breadxit, anyone?). This was closely followed by the announcement that anodyne presenting pair Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins would not be making the transfer – and now news today that Bake Off judge Mary Berry is also sticking by the Beeb. Honestly, it’s a wonder suicide rates haven’t spiked.

Even the politicians got involved. At a rally in Birmingham, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, reacting to a supporter’s placard that read ‘Nationalise Bake Off’, said, ‘The public lost ownership of Bake Off. Shall we get it back? Are we all going to bake?’ (Although Corbyn’s enthusiasm should be taken with a pinch of salt, seeing as, earlier this week, when asked to name his favourite biscuit, he replied: ‘I’m totally anti-sugar on health grounds, so eat very few biscuits, but if forced to accept one, it’s always a pleasure to have a shortbread.’)

Meanwhile, other unlikely public figures weighed in. John Prescott tweeted that the show should have ‘stayed with the Beeb’. And Prince William told volunteer bakers at a youth centre ‘you must be distraught it’s moving’.

In her Sunday Times column, India Knight hit back at the those who said the Bake Off move shouldn’t be classed as news, and penned a staunch defence of the show: ‘I love it because it is so completely, contagiously good-hearted and warm, but not mimsy or naff. This is entirely due to the brilliance of Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, who are whipsmart, hilarious, engaging and entirely without malice.’

One wonders if Knight has actually seen Bake Off. It is the baking equivalent of watching paint dry. Contestants are filmed watching their cakes rise in the oven. Dramatic music accompanies every challenge, in the hope of creating suspense around whether or not someone’s gingerbread house will fall down. Meanwhile, Mel and Sue prance about spouting dreadful puns and extremely mild sexual innuendo – their humour level set somewhere around the seven-year-old mark.

Kudos to Love Productions – the company behind the show – for making so much money out of such a mundane hobby. But how sad it is that a show about cake can commandeer the news in this way – even find its way into a political rally. Isn’t it about time we got our priorities straight? Baking is not breaking news.

Naomi Firsht is staff writer at spiked and co-author of The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

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