Not Liking Great British Bake Off Makes Me Feel Weirdly Guilty

It might be all pastry, puns, pudding and patriotism but it's just not for me

Not Liking Great British Bake Off Makes Me Feel Weirdly Guilty

by Vicky Spratt |

There has always been something lullaby-esque about TV cookery shows. They’re soporifically satisfying in a way that actual cooking rarely is. You don’t actually have to do the cooking yourself, you don’t have to go out and buy the ingredients, you don’t have to do any measuring, fret about timings or get frustrated because you’ve eaten so many snacks by the time your epic dish is finished that you’re no longer hungry.

From the classics like Delia Smith or Rick Stein to the raucous early days of 90s Jamie Oliver the Naked Chef or the salty suggestiveness of Nigella sneaking down to her fridge in a nightie after hours, there’s a TV chef for every mood. Even Man versus Food is oddly hypnotic.

As a child I ate more than my fair share of ready meals. And, you might argue, that what Jamie and Nigella in particular did to reposition cooking culturally and make it once more an act of pleasure as well as necessity, bringing the era of the microwave era to a close was nothing short of Nobel-worthy. I am also a big fan of watching TV chefs work their magic in immaculate kitchens placed perfectly within sprawling houses. There’s also no doubt that Rachel Khoo’s tiny Parisian kitchen got me through a particularly gruesome breakup.

In recent years Great British Bake Off has become one of the most talked about and undoubtedly most beloved TV cookery shows. Kinder than other reality TV shows where contestants are only ‘in it to win it’ in dog eat dog style fashion and more wholesome than other competitions, Bake Off has won a place in the hearts of many.

Seven series, 57 episodes and 28 specials of Great British Bake Off have now graced our screens. Apparently the current series draws to a close this evening and it’s the last ever episode of the show that will air on the BBC. I wouldn’t know because I don’t watch it. For years I’ve been tuning out of conversations, muting group chats and staying silent when GBBO comes up. I don’t like admitting it to anyone – not friends, not colleagues, not relatives – but I really, really don’t like watching Bake Off.

What’s not to love about Bake Off? It’s all about cakes and bread and pies and tarts, there’s bunting, Mel & Sue, oo err double entendre by the bucket load and exquisite, crease-free table cloths. They say it’s ‘the very best of British’; the Great British Bake Off is patriotism neatly packaged up as pastry, puns and pudding. In these dark times Bake Off as it has existed on the BBC is cast by those who watch it and write about it as The Shire to Channel 4's Modor, a TV metaphor for all that is good in our society.

At times I’ve felt almost ashamed to admit that I don’t like it and I can’t make it through a single episode. It’s not that I hate Bake Off, I don’t find it particularly affronting, it’s more that I am completely indifferent to it. I hear my friends speak about it in raptures and I feel empty and hollow.

Being unable to relate to Great British Bake Off has made me question myself. I’ve found myself wondering whether I’m missing a wholesome chip. Does not liking Bake Off mean I have no soul? Am I unable to appreciate the very essence of what it means to be British because I don’t laugh at the ‘soggy bottom’ jokes?

When Ruby Tandoh’s book ‘Eat What You Love’ came out I thought I’d try again. Now was my chance to prove myself, to join in on conversations by the office microwaves and avoid the feeling of being let out by my friends when our group WhatsApp gets enveloped by a technical bake. Ruby’s book is excellent, I flicked through it and it ignited my love of food, both the cooking and eating of it. I tried to use it as a spring board to get into the show, I feel flat on my face. I found the it tedious and difficult to watch, watching it did not inspire me made me not want to cook. The ecstasy and the agony of the contestant’s flour-based trials and tribulations did not make me fall warm and fuzzy it left me numb. Not being able to emote or relate brought out the misanthropist in me. The battle for my soul began all over again.

Maybe it's me? Maybe it's the bunting? Maybe it's my historic organised problem with organised fun? I will always love cookery shows. I will always revel in the gluttonous ones and gorge on as much stainless steel kitchen porn as I can lay my eyes on. One day I’ll have a kitchen aid all of my own and I’ll pretend I’m Nigella when I use it but, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t learn to love Bake Off.

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Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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