I Wanna Watch Bake-Off!

(see? After yesterday, actual writing!)

I greatly enjoyed the last season of The Great British Bake-Off, a program on the BBC in which twelve amateur bakers create dazzling arrays of mouth-watering cakes, buns, and pastries, to be judged by acclaimed pun-makers Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, and acclaimed cake-eaters Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, in scenes that may resemble an average North Korean home economics class, except with marginally fewer fatalities.

The series, at least in my mind, functions as a sort of ‘happy MasterChef’, the other well-known BBC cookery program where acclaimed syllable-shouter Gregg Wallace and acclaimed Gregg Wallace-keeper John Torode judge food that isn’t necessarily a cake, bun, or pastry. While MasterChef has a serious, clean look to its set – that looks like it consists entirely of IKEA furniture put up by Cylon Centurions – Bake-Off takes place in a tent in a field somewhere near The Shire; and those themes continue into the shows – MasterChef is all about ‘reaching another level’ and striving to be the sole survivor of sixty on-screen candidates, who are culled like main characters in Game Of Thrones, while Bake-Off has twelve contestants, who bake alongside each other and are only eliminated one at a time, making the show seem more like a televised family bakery event, in which the penalty for defeat is to have to sit in the corner and watch your brothers and sisters continue baking, unable to go for second helpings of all of the dishes.

And all that is why I look forward to Bake-Off in a way that I don’t for MasterChef; the former is more relaxed – a fact helped by the fact that all the recipes appear to be concocted by a combination of elves, pixies, and Heston Blumethal – while the latter is more tense, and the stakes seem to be higher.

This difference is manifested in my responses to the elimination parts of the shows: when a contestant is kicked out of MasterChef, I feel excited that my chosen cook is closer to overall victory, or am crestfallen at their defeat; regardless of whoever goes from Bake-Off, I’m sad because I feel like I’ve lost someone I know personally, because they are instructed to make their dishes personal to them, while the chiefs behind MasterChef only throw in fifteen minutes of child-filming and fake cookery for each chef in a desperate attempt to build up tension at the start of the final episode by making us care about the cooks as people, which ultimately feels like panderous filler.

For instance, I wasn’t too upset with the winner of last season’s Bake-Off, as I liked them all as people, but the outcome of last season’s MasterChef made me overjoyed that who I considered to be the best technical cook won in the end.

And this is why that title claims I ‘wanna’ watch Bake-Off, while I would be ‘excited’ to watch MasterChef; I’m looking forward to the series with the same dizzy excitement that a child looks forward to the final of a sporting event, in which the child’s favourite team aren’t playing: the final outcome is irrelevant, because both sides are perfect and likeable and bedroom poster-worthy in their own way, it’s the event itself that brings joy. MasterChef is like continually watching England play Germany in the World Cup – it’s tense, involves a bit of cheeky betting with your friends on the outcome, and will end up pissing off at least half of the audience either way.

Of course, the juvenile anger I tried to convey in the title is because I can’t watch Bake-Off‘s new season tonight, because my sister – and fellow appreciator of Mel’s puns – is away, so we’ll have to get it on iPlayer tomorrow. Let the dizzy anticipation continue!


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