Summer has officially come to an end. The few blissful “days” of Scottish sunshine and temperatures above fifteen degrees are behind us and the nights are getting longer once more. The start of this academic year is very different to before, but one thing is the same: on a Tuesday night I can still boil the kettle, make a big cup of tea, snuggle under the blanket, and watch Bake Off.
The tent is the invariable elegant white meringue, set amongst rolling green fields. The layout inside hasn’t changed either: warm wooden surfaces, pastel coloured kitchen aids, and gingham tablecloths. Prue and Paul welcome a new batch of contestants to the tent with wide smiles and icy blue stares, respectively.
However, there is one great change from previous years. Instead of filming every weekend for the course of the competition, this year the contestants and judges were all placed inside a bubble to ensure everyone’s safety on the show. Whilst this is a strain on the lives of those involved in its production, it does mean that the expressiveness and warmth of the contestants is not limited. They’re still able to huddle together and comfort each other when the biscuits begin to crumble.
This humanity and the kindness of the contestants is always what attracts viewers to The Great British Bake Off. This year’s contestants are no different, with the usual cross-section of British society as well as a few interesting career choices. In the mix this year includes a pantomime producer, a security guard, and a bronze sculpture. Edinburgh University’s own: Peter Sawkins, is the youngest contestant in the competition. Already capturing the nation’s heart in the first episode with his precision and his earnestness, the accounting and finance student is off to a racing start.
Of course, there are not just new contestants in the tent but a new host as well. Matt Lucas replaces Sandi Toksvig, who after three years on the show, needed time for other projects. Lucas seemed nervous in his first episode as host, but his comedy riffs much more easily off of Noel Fielding’s than Sandi’s ever did. The pair could be the cherry on the cake for Channel Four who have lacked the ingredients of Mel and Sue to spice up the show since its transfer from BBC One. If Lucas’ big gimmick that opened the show is anything to go by, he will keep the bakers and the nation cheerful throughout this season.
Bake Off is back, and its extra time in the oven this year didn’t do it any harm. Its production has been questioned but it is already cooking up a great competition. The first episode was full of cake related drama that was a pleasant distraction from everything else happening right now. In fact, Bake Off has never been more needed.
Image: Varintorn via Needpix.com