TV Editor Matt Dawson reports on last month's MCM Comic Con as Primeval's Andrew Lee Potts took centre stage in BirminghamWritten by Matt Dawson on 13th December 2017
A Show Stopping Start for Bake Off
After a contentious channel move, TV Critic Rebecca Cutler reviews Channel 4's Great British Bake Off
If anything came close to breaking my heart in 2016, it was undeniably the slim majority of the victorious Leave campaign. This was not aided in the following weeks and months as The Great British Bake Off derailing in a seemingly comparable manner. With hosts Mel Gideroyc and Sue Perkins and judge Mary Berry staying loyal to the BBC, thus removing themselves as the faces that made the show famous, there remained a single set of piercing blue eyes in which the (weakened) pound signs could roll. Paul Hollywood, in a time when jumping ship was the nation's activity of choice, bravely stayed on board.
The important thing to remember with Bake Off is that both the BBC and Channel 4 are merely the platform from which they are viewed. It has always been, and still is, produced by Love Productions. Armed with this information, it would be foolish to expect Dramatic Changes to have occurred in 'new' Bake Off. Even to call it new seems unnecessary - Bake Off has simply moved into a new house. A new house in a slightly cooler area, with noisy neighbours and fewer law enforcement officials. Without the guiding presence of Mary Berry, things could go downhill very easily.
“Bake Off has simply moved into a new house - one in a slightly cooler area, with noisy neighbours and fewer law enforcement officials
“Prue Leith has superseded Hollywood... Her subtle interjections shame Hollywood into being a better judge, a better baker, and a better part of the show
The Great British Bake Off is also attracting a higher level of baking talent; whilst each baker certainly has less successful rounds, they have all being displaying a high level of talent since the earliest stages of the competition. This improvement has been necessary to keep up with the increasing difficulty of each of the rounds. The technical challenges are increasingly obscure and testing for the bakers, forcing them to prove their worth. The introduction of Caramel Week harnessed the bakers' skill sets, forcing them to demonstrate skill beyond the combination of eggs and flour. The diversity of the current series' contestants is also more natural. Where the BBC presented a wide range of contestants, it frequently used the social/cultural/racial identities of contestants as a way of differentiating between them. On Channel 4, which has championed diversity and difference louder and for much longer, this is no longer used as a crutch.Nothing that should hinder The Great British Bake Off during its first series on Channel 4 is proving to be catastrophic. Even the introduction of advertisements, and the consequential extension of the programme's length to a run-time of over an hour can only be a good thing - a time to make a drink or visit the bathroom is a much needed way to diffuse the tension of a difficult or delicate Showstopper Challenge. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, The Bake Off on Channel 4 takes the best of what made it brilliant on the BBC (and also Paul Hollywood), and changes it just enough to bring new life to the old format.