MY ONLY excuse for what I’ve done on the past few Tuesday nights, each time an hour that will not come again, is that I haven’t been alone. Not just at home where Liz and I have watched every oven setting, ingredient mix and cake rise intently, but joined by about six million other viewers of the Great British Bake Off.
Sad, but true, there it is. After finding other things to do in the early stages, I finally got sucked into the travails of amateur bakers trying to make chocolate indulgence petits fours, a gingerbread barn, Fraisier cake, Key lime pie, bonfire night brioche and much else unknown in the real world.
I have tried to analyse my reasons. Presenters Sue and Mel have a good line in dry humour, Mary Berry is a genuinely nice lady and Paul Hollywood, although bearded, gelled and jeans-challenged, has the supreme advantage of not being Gregg Wallace.
That’s the Gregg of Masterchef, bawling and steaming up his glasses while irritating the hell out of those of us who used to warm to Lloyd Grossman’s laidback, approach before he was judged too gentle for competitive cooking. Got it – Masterchef is now one of many programmes I don’t watch because of aggressive presenters and ridiculously emotional contestants and I watch the Great British Bake Off because it is the opposite.
GBBO contestants, with the possible exception of Brendan, the pernickety former management consultant, are people I could chat with. They treat those two imposters of triumph and disaster just the same, a few tears if and when eliminated the only emotion. No screaming, shouting, rolling on the floor, biting the carpet, knee-slides or hysterics as seen on many a show near you. More the traditional British stiff upper lip Ian Hislop has been examining in another series that ended last week.
I started watching that three-part story of how we got, then lost, our stiff upper lip because it followed GBBO and found that Hislop – in other roles as irritating as Gregg Wallace – was, as usual, an interesting and entertaining presenter. His programme was illuminating and if it stops even one X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing contestant from coming all over emotional it will also have been useful.
Contrary to how it might seem from the above I don’t watch much TV and usually only programmes that make me laugh or that I can learn something from. So where knowing the theory of making tarte au citron will take me is anyone’s guess – not our kitchen, that’s a certainty. But Tuesday nights won’t seem the same without the GBBO.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West