I wrote a column when the BBC losing The Great British Bake Off to Channel 4, and my concerns for the future of the ‘feel good’ cooking show.
I was cynical about how the programme, which had become an institution for many families up and down the country, might survive moving to a commercial channel.
But I actually had started to eat my words (pardon the pun) as, despite trying to avoid its culinary pull, my youngest daughter and I once again became avid watchers. We particularly loved the last series with Kim-Joy becoming a firm favourite in our house.
I admit we did watch it on catch- up, fast forwarding through the annoying adverts. But there was something comforting about our weekly visits to the Bake Off tent. That is, until this series.
Maybe it is something to do with it being the youngest bunch of contestants yet so there isn’t the feeling of granny baking bread or passing on her family favourites of years gone by.
Or maybe it is the rather obscure themes weeks – The Roaring Twenties, for goodness sake. What’s wrong with cake week or good old chocolate week?
But more likely is the increasing meanness of the judges, Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood.
Okay, so week five’s technical challenge to make Beignet Soufflés was a disaster (although not surprisingly when no one had ever heard of them – not even Google)
But did two contestants really deserve to go ? And dessert week last week saw everyone improve I thought, but not so according to Prue and Paul who launched into the bakes with at best disdain, at worst horror. They need to remember that this is not MasterChef: The Professionals – these are home cooks who are brave enough to put themselves and their cooking skills up for scrutiny.
While Mary Berry was quite capable of letting bakers know when she wasn’t too keen on something (remember the bought fondant icing incident), she still managed to do it in an encouraging way and with a smile on her face.
We watch Bake Off primarily because it is feel good television. It is baking after all, what could be more comforting? The only fear factor in my mind should be whether there’s going to be a soggy bottom or not.
There feels to be a sinister change in the tone of this much-loved baking programme. I am hoping that last night’s episode was a kinder affair.
It is not The Apprentice although it would not surprise me if Noel Fielding or Sandi Toksvig shouted “you’re fired” at the end of next week’s episode.