TV Review: The Great British Bake Off, Channel 4

Reporter:

Jamie Bowman

“Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss” sang The Who on their 1971 hit Won’t Get Fooled Again and although it’s unlikely Pete Townsend was thinking of mini rolls and fruit cakes when he penned his anti-establishment classic, it was a line that kept running through my head as I immersed myself into the cosy world of the Great British Bake Off.

You’ll remember the huge controversy that greeted the news that one of UK television’s biggest success stories of recent years was moving to Channel 4 from the BBC.

The decision prompted the much-loved band of presenters to split with blue-eyed heart throb Paul Hollywood staying put while Mel, Sue and Mary Berry opted for a take out and jumped ship.

What would this mean for a show which delights in nostalgia, comfort and a sense that whatever horrors are going on in the world once we step inside that tent everything is going to be alright even if we are struggling with a soggy bottom and having problems with our yeast?

Well, thankfully Channel 4 have realised very quickly that you don’t mess with the formula.

New presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding are perfect replacements for Mel and Sue with both their mixture of empathy and warmth towards the contestants and ability to turn everything into an innuendo.

Fielding is straight in there with a raised eyebrow when pretty Siberian Julia Chernogorova complains about draining her courgettes and his eagerness to taste Stacey’s “damp clutch” is downright hilarious.

Replacing Berry is Prue Leith who does very little wrong in the role the 82-year-old made her own and as for Hollywood, he still does that intense, angry thing well but also seems to have toned down his swaggering manliness in favour of a warmer side, much in evidence when he meets fellow scouser Flo.

The real stars of Bake Off however, are the contestants and even at this early stage Channel 4 seemed to have picked a group with huge potential for laughs and emotional highs and lows.

Student Paul, 19, won hearts and minds with his stunning pancake creation in the ‘illusion’ round but for me the best moment was when Fielding - full marks for the raven-motif silk shirt - watched Steven create a Bonfire Night cake topped with miniature toffee apples. “I think I love you,” said Noel. “Already?” replied Steven.

Email:

jamie.bowman@nwn.co.uk

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