Look, I voted remain. But if Junior Bake Off represents the sort of cultural rebirth we might enjoy in the post-Brexit era then let me be the first to admit it: I was wrong. Farage was right.
Making children bake cakes competitively for our entertainment is exactly the sort of thing Brussels bureaucrats would have eventually banned on human rights grounds. Just another example of Euro red tape eroding good British fun.
Well, we’re probably well rid of them, all things considered. Make our kids bake on telly until their little hands bleed, I say. Yep, Junior Bake Off is my new favourite TV show of all time.
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Why is this show so great? Well, first there is Harry Hill and his brilliant catchphrase. “Nice to see ’em, it’s Rav and Liam!” is the best TV catchphrase there has been in several generations. Certainly since Brucie passed. And, to be fair, even he hadn’t come up with any real classics since conjuring “Nothing for a pair – not in this game” for the launch of Play Your Cards Right in 1980.
“Liam is funny, passionate and animated. Rav is hypnotically charming, warm and smart.”
Like David Bowie – his pop music equivalent – Brucie’s best work came in the Seventies. After that, his work was either commercial compromise (the high-octane but intellectually lacklustre You Bet! was his Let’s Dance), self-indulgent over-reach (the failed BBC One reverse gameshow concept Takeover Bid was his Earthling) or problematic forays into acting (the short-lived ITV sitcom Slinger’s Day was his Labyrinth).
Anyway, one of the many reasons this catchphrase is brilliant is that it signals the arrival each week of the two best judges on British television: Liam Charles and Rav Gill.
Liam is funny, passionate and animated. Rav is hypnotically charming, warm and smart.
Roll up, roll up! We're on the lookout for talented young bakers aged 9-15 to take part in the next series of Junior Bake Off! So if you or someone you know fits the bill, here's the drill:
Apply by 8.59pm on 28.03.21.
Good luck!#GBBO pic.twitter.com/uTRER8kTxi
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) February 16, 2021
But both have an extra quality too: sincerity. They preside over the child bakers with a natural enthusiasm. Their empathy for the young contestants is palpable. Their love of the business of baking is natural and authentic.
They aren’t contriving bullshit personalities and fake jocularity to further their own careers. They are the real deal. They are humans.
Being so entertaining and yet so human is such a unique quality in mainstream TV that it almost seems incongruous. Liam has been doing the show a while; Rav – a pastry chef and noted writer – was a new addition this year. She took to it with an aplomb that’s almost supernatural.
Either of them could walk into any other TV show – from Top Gear to Newsnight to Cash In The Attic – and immediately make it five times more watchable.
I had never watched any of the Bake Off shows until this series because I mistakenly thought it was for squares and Tories. I was wrong.
Junior Bake Off is simply a bullet-proof TV format with superb on screen talent.
Harry Hill, the funniest man in Britain – flanked by the greatest young TV judges of all time – ringmastering the pastry-based antics of some of the most talented and eccentric kids on the box since Why Don’t You?
Laugh? I baked a batch of fruit scones mate.
Junior Bake Off is on All 4