TV

The Great British Bake Off shows there's still hope for the country

Oven Ready! At last, a positive in this chaotic world – the new series of Great British Bake Off is an absolute joy, writes Lucy Sweet.

The Great British Bake Off. Matt Lucas has announced he is leaving - but who will replace him? Image: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

If this year was a cake, it’d be an uncooked sponge (no gas) decorated with gravel (our new currency) and discarded swabs from lateral flow tests (festive!). But somewhere in a tent in bucolic England, there is still hope for Britain.

This place – wherever it actually is – shows us what we’re still capable of being: an abundant and diverse land full of eccentrics, nerds and people with EU passports, where skill and creativity are welcome and everyone (well, almost everyone) knows how to make a gravity-defying cake in the shape of their childhood memories.

Isn’t this what we should be voting for?

Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding are properly settling into their roles as cosy middle-aged TV personalities in wacky jumpers

I don’t know whether this is just because EVERYTHING IS SO HARD at the moment, but the first episode of the new Great British Bake Off was an absolute joy. Like finding a pink Mr Kipling french fancy in a sea of crap chocolate ones.

The calibre of the cakes and the contestants this year is off the scale, and it seemed like they all really get on (I would argue that the Bake Off Covid bubble has vastly improved the atmosphere on the show). Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding are properly settling into their roles as cosy middle-aged TV personalities in wacky jumpers. And even Paul Hollywood didn’t curdle my crème pat quite so much as usual.

At the moment, my favourite to win is Jürgen, a small German man with eyebrows like two Tyrolean feathered hats, who plays the trombone with his wife and mortified-looking teenage son in his spare time. He is a force for good in this world and if you mess with Jürgen, you mess with ME.

He made a pistachio and rose cake in the shape of a book and a reading lamp. If you need me I will be on my sofa crying about this noble and sensitive achievement until the end of time.

We were also introduced to Prue Leith lookalike Maggie, a retired midwife so effervescent she could replace the UK’s stock of CO2 in about five minutes.

Then there was Frank Zappa-esque Giuseppe, an engineer whose extremely precise swiss rolls would have been disturbing, had we not already seen him at home making slapdash pizzas with his kids, who he affectionately called “amore”.

I also loved Freya, a 19-year-old vegan baker who is so staggeringly talented (and blasé about it) that it’s almost as if she’s a new kind of person.

Anyway, please allow me to bask in this short period of time when I truly believe that everyone and everything about Bake Off is lovely.

Soon I will start to hate them all, criticise their gingerbread chandeliers and scream when Paul says something sexist about a woman’s buns. But right now, as we enter a trying winter, the sunlit uplands of Bake Off are where I want to live.

The Great British Bake Off is on Channel 4 at 8pm on Tuesday and All 4

@lucytweet1

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