The Great British Bake Off Is Soothing Our Souls – And We Need It More Than Ever

Immerse yourself in the utopia of the Bake Off tent

Bake Off presenters

by Jessica Barrett |
Published on

I’ve always had a take-it-or-leave-it attitude towards The Great British Bake Off. Since it started a decade ago, I've watched it sporadically but I certainly wasn’t one of the people taking to the streets when it moved from BBC to Channel 4, losing Mary Berry in the process. I’ve watched entire series, and I’ve missed out on entire series.

Explain to me, then, why watching the first episode of the new series of Bake Off this weekend felt like a religious experience? I cried when Sura knocked Dave’s upside down cakes on the floor, I lolled at Laura’s Freddie Mercury bust (which looked more like the Pringles man) and I fell for new presenter Matt Lucas, who forms a weird yet soothingly warm presenting duo alongside Noel Fielding. The theme tune, the tent, the Battenberg challenge, hell, even Paul Hollywood: I just couldn’t get enough of it, and if that makes me basic then smother me in pumpkin spice lattes because I’ve found my new calling in life.

I wasn’t alone in my new passion for Bake Off. It was reported that the first episode drew in a million more viewers than the first episode of series ten last year. Overnight reports suggested it was the most viewed premiere since the series moved to Channel 4 in 2017.

That we’re embracing the calm, fuzzy, simple joy of Bake Off this year is no surprise, when you think about it. Even if just for an hour, our souls need soothing, we need to forget the depressing news cycle for just an hour, and immerse ourselves in the innocent utopia of the Bake Off tent where the biggest problem is some spilled pineapple upside down cakes.

After a three month delay due to lockdown restrictions, the series was filmed this summer but there is little talk of Covid on screen. The 13 contestants agreed to isolate with the crew and presenters, and so the Bake Off tent became an unlikely bubble. With that explained to viewers at the start of episode one, we watched the action play out as normal (Paul Hollywood has even confirmed his infamous handshakes won’t be affected).

In a year when almost everything we love to do and watch has been affected by restrictions, it felt nice to watch something which wasn’t subject to any (although contestant Dave did leave his pregnant partner at home to take part which feels like a bold decision). It was refreshing to watch something new, that was filmed this year and didn't take place via Zoom. We’ve all been committing to old box sets in a bid to fill the cultural black hole, but having event television back, that we can all watch and tweet about at the same time, feels important in a year when we've been so disconnected. This year has caused many of us to come to terms with a lot of things, and so I’m embracing my new truth, which is: I’m a die hard Bake Off fan.


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